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Walter Rodgers

Osama bin Laden: a fraud and a failure

Even before Osama bin Laden's death, Muslims were rejecting his vile message.

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His victories, like crashing airliners with screaming innocents into buildings, were disgusting, criminal, and embarrassing to righteous Muslims. In recent years, Sheikh Osama fast became irrelevant because he increasingly inflicted humiliation and defeat on peoples who have already known too much of both.

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Bin Laden failed to topple the Saudi monarchy he loathed because he forgot the basic rule of the House of Saud: “He who has the most money wins.” And while he did much to empty America’s treasury, his failure to defeat the Americans as he had the Soviets reflected an even more fatal miscalculation. Had he known better the American culture, he might have learned the secular tenet, “The last man standing wins.”

A range of conspiracy theorists and hard-core Islamists are insisting that the bin Laden “hit” was faked, that he’s still alive somewhere. That reminds me of the countless “sightings” of Adolf Hitler in South America after World War II.

There is no reason to be surprised at continuing pockets of rage and cries for revenge from the Arab outback because, as Shakespeare said, “The evil men do lives after them.”

Al Qaeda terrorist franchises in Yemen, Iraq, North Africa, and Pakistan remain poised and dangerous. Among some Islamic fundamentalists, nothing short of the eradication of the United States, India, Israel, and France will assuage their hatred.

Revenge: a poison chalice

But most Arab youths are seeing that revenge is the poison chalice that ultimately did in bin Laden. He is simply the latest Arab leader to bet on violent solutions and then fall victim to the same.

Bin Laden was a fraud and a failure. That lesson should be hammered into the heads of young Pakistani boys in their Saudi-funded religious schools, the madrasas.

The Arab world desperately needs a new worldview to replace bin Laden’s fabrications. Foremost among these should be that Arab society does not need to invent external enemies to maintain internal social coherence.

The recent turmoil on Arab streets suggests that the next generation may understand that their greatest enemies are internal: corruption, state violence, and the status quo.

It is difficult to gauge how far back from modernity bin Laden’s’s radical Islamist ideology may have pushed Arab society. But it is the Arabs more than American youngsters on the streets who have the most to celebrate now, for it was bin Laden more than anyone who trademarked Muslims as terrorists, and he is gone.

Walter Rodgers, a former senior international correspondent for CNN, writes a biweekly column.

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