“Why I Won’t Write about Bin Laden”

– by Ibn Larry

“I’m a member of the 9/11 generation. Like all Americans, we can remember exactly where we watched the Towers fall… But unlike all Americans, my generation was uniquely shaped by the horrors that day. We were old enough to comprehend the gravity of the attacks, but young enough that 9/11 would serve as the foundational moment of our lives.

… Like many of my generation, we channeled those emotions into a desire to enter a life of public service. Some like myself focused specifically on the Middle East. We began to study Arabic, read about Islam and travel abroad in the Arab world. We did so for instrumental reasons. We wanted to learn what caused people like Osama bin Laden to murder so many innocent lives. More importantly, we wanted to help bring him to justice.

That’s why, as an undergraduate, I hoped to one day become a counter-terrorism intelligence analyst. I wanted to use my knowledge of the Middle East to protect the homeland. And as such, I viewed the Arab world largely as a security problem to be solved. But something unexpected happened: my interest in terrorism and Bin Laden faded.

I instead became fascinated for the Middle East for what it is: an immensely complex and diverse conglomeration of peoples, histories, religions and cultures…

Two years ago, I remember walking through a Muslim slum in Cairo when I spotted a faded picture of Bin Laden sticking out from a heap of garbage. Arabs have long ago thrown Al Qaeda into the refuse pile of history. They have shunned his murderous ideology for an entirely different narrative of hope, of pride, and of freedom… In the words of Rachid Ghannouchi, a leading Islamist in Tunisia, on Al Jazeera today: “Bin Laden died in Tunisia before dying in Pakistan.”

… I cannot think of a better way to honor those lost on September 11th than by helping Arabs realize their inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Such an achievement will ensure that Bin Laden’s photograph will forever remain rotting in that Cairo trash heap where it belongs.”


Comments are closed.