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Is Osama Bin Laden the Devil?

Updated on December 16, 2017
CJStone profile image

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests.

J. William Fulbright


Nothing is what it seems.

So Osama Bin Laden is now dead. Except that, according to Benazir Bhutto, in an interview she gave to David Frost about 3 months before she herself was assassinated, Bin Laden had already been murdered many years ago. She even named the killer, a man closely involved with the Pakistani security services.

The latest news is that al-Qaeda have acknowledged bin Laden’s death and sworn revenge. That's assuming we know who al-Qaeda might be, that is. So on the one hand we are assured that Bin Laden’s death has made the world a safer place, on the other, that we should expect more violence as a consequence.


Who was Osama Bin Laden?

On the morning of September 11th 2001, within hours of the announcement of the attack upon the twin towers, Bin Laden’s name and face was already being flashed up upon the screen as the perpetrator of the atrocity.

Bin Laden himself denied it, then appeared to accept it, then denied it again, in a series of tapes and videos, some of which were widely believed to be faked.

Now here is a surprising fact: on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist webpage, Osama bin Laden is not accused of the September 11th attacks. You can check this out if you like.

When asked why, in 2006 Rex Tomb, then the FBI's chief of investigative publicity, said: "The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama Bin Laden's Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."

Meanwhile, in a contradictory set of statements following the announcement of his death, it was first of all said that he had died in a fire-fight, then that he had used one of his wives as a human shield, and finally that he had been unarmed.

The Navy Seals who were responsible for his death have since been praised for their bravery: for the killing of an unarmed man in front of his children.

How brave is that?

Laws of War

If Osama Bin Laden was a criminal he should have been captured alive and brought to trial. If he was an enemy combatant, he should have been captured alive at the moment of surrender and treated as a prisoner of war. He could then have been tried as a war criminal. If he had died in combat, his body should have been returned to his family for burial.

Those are the laws of war.

As it is he was shot in the head in what appears to be an extra-judicial killing tantamount to an execution, after which his body was buried at sea: “according to Islamic practice”, as a government spokesperson said. And yet, according to Islamic scholars, burial at sea is in direct violation of Islamic law.

Meanwhile the photographs of his dead body are not being released as they are too gruesome to be shown, while they might also provide a rallying point for Islamic militants, according to President Obama, fuelling suspicion in some quarters that his death too might have been faked.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme after the announcement of his death, I heard several commentators describe Bin Laden as “the devil.”

This is interesting terminology. Who exactly is the devil?

You could say that the concept of the devil is a useful fiction designed to keep human beings in a state of fear.

Might not that description also apply to Osama Bin Laden?


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