How Bin Laden Was Right (And Where He Was Wrong)

The TikTok kids are all right

History, when it is rewritten, will date the fall of the American Empire to September 11th, 2001. The hegemon lashed around for a while, but at that point, it was mortally wounded. Historically, the fall was quite quick, actually. After decades of occupying, bombing, and destroying the world, after centuries of genocide and slavery, America was finally hit back on September 11th, and once was all it took. America has been falling ever since, and the signal is just now reaching the brain.

I know that sounds crazy, so feel free to smash the unsubscribe button, I don’t mind. If you’re still here, understand that the TikTok generation — who has grown up with nothing but the ultra-violent reaction to 9/11 — has been re-reading bin Laden’s “Letter To The Americans,” and finding much to agree with. Because there is. Bin Laden actually denied the attacks, but the letter writes as if he definitely wanted to hit America, so take that as you will.

You have to read his letter critically, especially since he’s wildly (and incorrectly) anti-Jewish, but there is both truth in his words and effect in his (purported) actions. So if you’re open to rewriting history now — as the Empire is still falling down around us, as the blood is still wet— let’s see what we find. Mazer Rackham (from Ender’s Game) said there’s no greater teacher than the enemy, so what can we learn from the 21st century’s greatest villain?


Firstly, your narrator is a Sri Lanka who grew up in America and Canada (same thing, one White Empire). I had just turned 18 about a week before 9/11 and I was walking down the streets of Montreal, minding my business. My friend Jeremy — who served in the IOF, incidentally — ran up and said the twin towers were hit, and I thought he meant Israel. I don’t know why, but that’s what made sense to me at the time.

At that point, I still believed in America and this was quite a shock, outside the realm of possibility really. America had been hit in all of its chakras — the World Trade Center (financial power), Pentagon (military power), with a near-miss on the Capitol (we assume). America had also been hit in a grotesque and terrifying way, passenger airplanes turned into weapons. It was not a terribly damaging military hit, but psychologically, it was devastating. It could have been me on one of those planes and I was, at that point, effectively American inside.

At that point, I — and I think most people in the world — supported America. I heard Rage Against The Machine raging against them, but I thought they were exaggerating. America might have done some bad things but, like the Beatles said, “it’s getting better all the time.” In hindsight, I was blind. Everything had already been written and documented and, more to the point, suffered through. But I didn’t know that, and I was pretty average I think. America still had faith and credit across the world. It was only after 9/11 that they burnt that all up.

Post 9/11

Whatever faith and credit America had, they quickly spent by destroying Afghanistan and not finding Bin Laden, and then lying to invade Iraq just cause they felt like it. When people (myself included) talk about the evils of America, we typically include these evils, the five million killed and 40 million displaced in genocidal violence post 9/11.

For young people now, this is the only America they’ve ever known. Iraq and Afghanistan are just a few places America has destroyed. Libya, Syria, and Yemen have also been assaulted, not to mention the usual couping and conniving going on. Now, seeing the obvious evil of America in front of us, people have looking back in time. And my god, it’s all war crimes.

Pre 9/11

If you look anywhere into American history, the nation was at war. The nation is war. As former President Jimmy Carter said, ‘in its 242-year history, America has enjoyed only 16 years of peace, making it, as he wrote, “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” Since 2001, the U.S. has spent over $6 trillion on military operations and war.’

America was founded not just on war but genocide and slavery. The genocide of the advanced Native American civilizations that lived there, the genocide of Mexicans to the south, the enslavement of Africans and then even their own rape-borne children, it’s just atrocity after atrocity, all the way back to the beginning.

America’s inheritance of Britain’s Empire (I call it all White Empire) is dated to World War II, and that story is crucial to their mythology as ‘the good guys’. But it’s lies. World War II was marketed as America ‘saving’ the world, when in fact they were just conquering it. America — which actively pushed back boats of Jewish refugees — claimed credit for stopping evil Hitler, which wasn’t true in two ways. First, it was the USSR that destroyed 80% of the German Army and second, America was so evil that their race laws had inspired Hitler in the first place. Hitler’s great sin was that he applied colonial logic to Europeans. The only sin is colonizing white people, colonizing colored people is still fine (re: Palestine).

The Americans were not especially good during World War II, they just wrote the history and, more importantly, made the movies. America committed horrendous (and unnecessary) war crimes like the firebombing of civilians in Dresden and other German cities, along with dropping nuclear weapons on civilians twice in Japan. Today most people accept these as ‘the costs of war’ but they are not acceptable at all. Dropping nukes on cities? How did that get normalized? In truth, the Soviet Union and China paid in blood to destroy the German and Japanese Armies, while the Western Allies killed civilians without mercy and made movies about how great they were. They only weren’t hung because they won.

The ‘winning’ allies like France and England and America went on to commit even more genocides, invasions, and starvations after the war, but these were against colored people, who don’t count. After World War II America militarily occupied its ‘allies’ and went on fighting in Korea, Vietnam, and all over South America for further dominion. Today they have nearly 800 military bases all over the world, an Empire that hides in plain sight. The former European countries are just vassals, along with occupied territories like Japan and South Korea. Anybody that needs to buy dollars to get oil is paying them tribute like in the old times. And this Empire has always, always been undergirded by violence. They only say the world wars ended cause white people stopped dying.

The amount of bombs America dropped on Indochina alone is staggering. Laos is the most bombed country in the world, and America wasn’t even officially at war there. America was officially losing in Vietnam at the time, the last place it was able to muster a serious (conscripted) Army. After that they had to depend on technology, proxy armies, and divide and conquer trickery. So you got proxy wars and coups in South America, the mass murder of communists in Indonesia, god knows what meddling in Africa, and the corruption and occupation of the Middle East after the oil crisis, which leads us to bin Laden. At this point, I’ll mostly let him speak, because he directly wrote a letter to the Americans, explaining what and why.

Bin Laden’s Letter To The Americans

You should read this letter to yourself, it’s short. The Guardian deleted its copy after people got interested, but I read in in the book Messages To The World. As bin Laden said,

While seeking God’s help, we form our reply based on two questions directed at the Americans: 1) Why are we fighting and opposing you? 2) What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?

These are the vital questions. So how did he answer, and what do I think he got right and wrong?

Why did he fight America?

The answer to the first question is, in short “Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.” And you can’t deny him on this point. Bin Laden lists Palestine, Somalia, Chechnya (strangely, that was Russia), Kashmir (India?), Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He says, Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctuaries, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.”

This is all true, except for the part about Jews. Jews are a persecuted people, enlisted as shock troops near the oil. It’s classic divide and conquer tactics inherited from the British. Jews are not Zionists, and Zionists are the problem. Since 2002 (when this was written) even most ‘Islamist’ groups have moved on from this open antisemitism.

For example, the moderate Palestinian liberation movement Hamas says, “Hamas affirms that its conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion. Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine.” This is a boat bin Laden missed because he’s definitely racist towards Jews, which is both incorrect and not cool.

Then bin Laden goes on to something which is indisputable. That America, the most ‘warlike country in the world’ according to its own ex-President, should expect war to come home. As Malcolm X said, it’s ‘chickens coming home to roost’. As bin Laden wrote:

These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to respond to aggression. Do not expect anything from us but jihad, resistance, and revenge. Is it in any way rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century, that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?

This is an important and true point. After attacking everybody everywhere for centuries, America’s seem to believe that they alone deserve security and peace. That — like dragons lording over stolen land and loot — they should never be disturbed or even mildly inconvenienced. This isn’t rational or right. Cause and effect apply to everybody, and after hitting everyone in the world, someone was bound to hit back. The question, then, is why hit civilians? This is how bin Laden answers:

“You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not participate: (a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and freedom’s leaders in this world. If this is so, the American people are the ones who choose their government through their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies.”

So bin Laden is saying that because America is a democracy, because it claims freedom and governance by the people, those people are also responsible for the actions of their government. I would argue that America is not and never was a democracy, it was founded as an oligarchy of property owners (only a fraction of rich, white men could vote) and remained that way through outright oppression and subtle subterfuge. But this is an interesting argument because, as the translator says, “Another novel aspect of this statement is the extent to which it uses arguments against the American state circulating widely in the West itself, in effect taunting the United States with not living up to its own rhetoric.”

Another way bin Laden justifies hitting American civilians is saying that American taxes pay for all the war, but even in that argument there are some holes. America’s wars are generally unfunded, meaning they borrow and sell debt to pay for them. That debt is effectively ancient tribute, as it is ‘bought’ by foreign countries. So it’s actually global vassals and unborn Americans funding these wars, not living taxpayers per se. Bin Laden also says American citizens are soldiers, but these people are effectively debt slaves, trapped under the oligarchy as much as the impotent voters.

In all of these cases bin Laden is really quoting American values back at them, before he gets to his actual point, which is closer to ‘eye for an eye’.

“God, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to avenge this oppression. Thus, if we are attacked, then we have the right to strike back. If people destroy our villages and towns, then we have the right to to do the same in return. If people steal our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy. And whoever kills our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs.

People say that ‘eye for an eye’ makes the whole world blind, but the world is already blind. That’s just the people with bloody forks telling everyone else to be quiet. There is a real sense self-defense in what bin Laden is saying, and he’s right. How many civilians did America kill in Indochina, in Indonesia, in South America, in Iraq, in so many countries that it’s easier to list the exceptions? Why shouldn’t some American civilians die? Do they not, in fact, deserve worse, simply by the ancient law of ‘fuck around and find out’? As bin Laden said, “America does not understand the language of manners and principles, so we are addressing it using the language it understands.” You can’t really dispute him on that. America is war. That’s all it understands, so that’s the language bin Laden spoke to them. You can’t say they didn’t have it coming.

What did he want from America?

The second part of bin Laden’s letter is what he wants from America. This is quite simple, albeit wildly improbable. He has seven points, the headings of which I will reproduce:

(1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam

(2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality, and debauchery that has spread among you.

(3) What we call you to thirdly is to take an honest stance with yourselves — and I doubt you will do so — in order to discover that you are a nation without principles or manners, and that, to you, values and principles are something which you merely demand from others, not that which you yourself must adhere to.

(4) We also advise you to stop supporting Israel, and to end your support of the Indians in Kashmir, the Russians against the Chechens, and also to cease supporting the Manila Government against the Muslims in the southern Philippines.

(5) We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We only desire this for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.

(6) Sixthly, we call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries. Do not interfere in our politics and method of education. Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.

(7) We also call you to deal with us and interact with us on the basis of mutual interests and benefits, rather than the policies of subjugation, theft, and occupation, and not to continue your policy of supporting the Jews because this will result in more disasters for you.

I would argue that there’s a contradiction here, bin Laden is both telling America to fuck off from the world (which I agree with) and also telling them to follow his worldview. It is a good thing to call someone to Islam, but you can’t coerce them there. So he loses me there, but it makes sense when he says:

(5) We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We only desire this for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.

(6) Sixthly, we call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries. Do not interfere in our politics and method of education. Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.

This is all true. America imposes its twisted form of democracy on everyone, and then coups places when it doesn’t like the results. It corrupts leaders and elites all over the world, to impose its own interests. Where bin Laden is unique, however, is threatening to hit the hegemon at home. Lots of people have told America to fuck off from their countries. Bin Laden told them to fuck off in America. That’s why his acts were so historic, and also so historically anomalous.

Most resistance movements and resisting countries today are provincial, not global like Al Qaeda. Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, China, Russia, etc; everybody on America’s hit list is not actually trying to hit them at home. They’re trying to secure their own homelands or their borders, not attack New York or Washington directly. America lies about its enemies ‘trying to take of the world,’ but every accusation is a confession. Its enemies mostly just want to be left alone. However, these later rebellions would not have been possible without the judo-chop bin Laden delivered to the Americans. He leveraged their own weight against them, causing the Empire to effectively self-destruct.

As the quietest Palestinian DJ Khaled would say, ‘you played yourself’. Or as bin Laden said, in his prescient warning:

If you Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance, and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will lose this Crusade Bush began, just like the other previous Crusades in which you were humiliated at the hands of the mujahidin, fleeing to your home in great silence and disgrace. If you Americans do not respond, then your fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.

And, I mean, yeah. America was humiliated in Afghanistan. After killing lots of poor people, growing lots of drugs, and then stealing all the forex on the way out, America lost. They should have fled home, but instead they just joined other wars, and are now getting humiliated in Ukraine and, inshallah, Palestine and occupied Syria/Iraq. Military defeat is happening, and ideological downfall also. Young people on TikTok are reading this very letter from Bin Laden and agreeing with much of it. That’s how fucked America is. The Empire has no clothes and the kids aren’t afraid to point it out.

All that’s left on the cards in political breakup and economic bankruptcy, and you could argue that’s already started. Donald Trump attacked the Capitol himself (the place Bin Laden missed), and the American economy actually crashed in 2008 and has been a zombie ever since. All that’s left is tying up the loose ends before the inevitable ending. America is surely going down ugly and violently (as it came in), but there’s only one direction it’s going. Down. And history will mark will that it (visibly) started with the World Trade Center falling, and the Pentagon burning. That was the sacking of this Rome. And then the rest was history.


Justifying 9/11

At this point, I’ll come out and say it. I think the attack on 9/11 was justified. Why shouldn’t the ‘warlike nation in the history of the world’ experience war on its own soil? The fact that Americans didn’t experience consequences is what kept their external violence going so long. They are, in hindsight, just Nazis that never lost.

As real and terrible as the terror of those people on those flights was, how much terror has America inflicted upon millions of people? How much terror is it inflicting right now, on the over 2 million souls in Palestine, cut off from food and water and dying under American bombs? Why should America not feel it? Simply because feelings are reserved for white people? I reject bin Laden’s argument that those people somehow deserved it cause America is a people’s democracy. They were unrelated and it was collateral damage. That’s just war. If Americans don’t like that, they shouldn’t start so fucking many. It was just a matter of time, really.

In hindsight, 9/11 was a legitimate hit on an illegitimate Empire. It was a shot at the Death Star. The Empire struck back with many bloody and increasingly unnecessary sequels, but it was crashing from that very moment, over twenty years ago. As wrong as bin Laden’s language against Jews is — as much as he falls into the imperial ‘divide and conquer’ against other people of the book — he is right about the ‘despicable state’ that America and the whole White Empire is in, and always was. And he was right to hit America in its centers of power. 9/11 was more than justified. It was overdue.

After 400, 500 years of killing and colonizing everybody, why shouldn’t the colonizers get hit once? And amazingly enough, that’s all it took. Like a blinded cyclops, America lashed out in every direction, killing millions more people, and then ultimately itself from imperial overstretch. Its military, financial, and governing powers are collapsing, mirroring the symbolic shot that so triggered them 22 years ago. And so history (if we live to write it) will date the fall of the American Empire to September 1st, 2001. It’s taking the signal a while to reach the brain, but just look at TikTok today. The kids know what’s up. A generation later, they’re reading bin Laden and agreeing with him. America sucks.