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Life out here by Bret Kofford: Our "serene" enemy

October 10, 2001

The scariest thing about Osama bin Laden is the apparent serenity with which he wishes us all dead.

There is no visible anger with bin Laden. We are used to our bad guys, our war criminals and mass murderers, oozing hate, ranting, raving and spewing. We are used to the McVeighs, the Husseins, the Khomeinis, the Hitlers, the ones who are obviously mean and more than half nuts.

We are not used to a tall, skinny guy calmly talking on videotape about how we Americans are infidels and deserve to die for our crimes, never raising his voice and never flashing anger in his eyes. Bin Laden appears matter-of-fact, almost dispassionate about his death wish for us, his call for our carnage, for our continuing misery.

Bin Laden, without animation, says with his war on the West, and particularly his war on the United States and Israel, he is doing his duty as a servant of Allah, and from all appearances he seems at peace with that. While he says he didn't have anything to do with the plotting, he thinks the jets/bombs that were flown by Muslim fundamentalists into buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C., were good things, because the incidents divided the world into good and evil. Now that we know who is on what side (and guess who knows for a fact he's on the side of the good guys?), the holy war can start, and we'll see who comes out on top, bin Laden says without emotion.


Bin Laden calmly says the acts of terror against the United States were heroic, that we have trampled on the holy lands of Islam by supporting Israel and sending non-Muslim troops into Saudi Arabia. Now we are getting what we deserve for our horrible sins against Allah, he insists.

We Americans don't like being portrayed as the bad guys, even by bin Laden and his allies. We like simple, trite Lee Greenwood patriotic songs where we are blessed by God like nowhere else. We are convinced God is always on our side. We find bin Laden particularly frustrating because he insists that, no, he is on the side of God and we Americans are doing the devil's work. How dare he?

We always see ourselves on the side of good and right, and in this case we are, because no matter what we have done, we never did anything as bad as to hijack jets and run them into buildings and kill thousands of innocent people, people from all over the world, people from all religions. We can surmise bin Laden considers all those Muslims killed in the World Trade Centers to be martyrs for Islam. Unknowing and unwilling martyrs, but martyrs indeed, he no doubt thinks.

He wants his supporters to be convinced he deeply and rationally considers such matters, always with a scholar's knowledge of Islam on his side.

We are so used to Hollywood's version of a bad guy that when the bad guy appears so calm, we don't know how to react. Bin Laden is a wolf in sheepherder's clothing, and he does a pretty good impression of a sheep, a pacifist forced to sacrifice and kill for God because of the sins of infidels.

The whole, measured, solemn, soft-spoken holy man act may just be calculated.

Think about it from the eyes of his adherents, as bin Laden likely has thought. Here is a guy who gave up billions of his own dollars, and all the fast cars and fast American whores he could have bought, to live in harsh conditions and on the run, all in the name of Allah and the oppressed Muslim millions worldwide. This is a guy who gave up Lamborghinis and palaces to spend his fortune on tents and rocket launchers, all in the name of Allah and the oppressed Muslim millions.

If on top of that he appears to be a pensive and humble man, and not some raving lunatic, the masses might see him as something of a second coming. And wouldn't that be nice for bin Laden?

Bin Laden's rational exterior makes him a unique, and possibly uniquely dangerous, enemy.

Tearing away at that aura of rationality might be a first step toward discrediting and ultimately ruining him. Killing a martyr only makes his message and mission stronger. Discrediting or embarrassing a martyr kills his message and mission.

We should work as hard as we can to embarrass and discredit bin Laden.

Then we should kill him.

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