Since I last posted about this book by Steve Coll–October 16th, only 15 days and it seems like a lifetime ago–I finished it, read a novel by an Irish writer, read a sort-of biography of Florenz Ziegfeld, and am now halfway through Jeffrey Deaver’s latest novel.
The question I posed last time is, How do you become the world’s most evil man? Hitler still trumps Osama Bin Laden, but Osama is at least a close second. I also stated that I don’t believe you get there by ideology alone, that there are serious psychological issues at play, and I stand by that contention.
Apparently the Koran says that a man cannot have more than four wives at once. But a man can divorce a woman for any reason at all (such as, I’ve got four wives, and one of you has to go because I want to have sex with someone else, which means I have to marry them.) The man is still expected to take care of the woman if she has a child by him; not sure what his obligations are if there are no children, or if the woman is free to remarry if there are no children. The man is required by the Koran to give a woman thirty days’ notice before he divorces her, which is the Koran’s version of “fairness”.
So Osama’s father, Mohamed, married Osama’s mother when she was 14 years old (approximately, since as I mentioned earlier, births are not celebrated in Islam, or at least in its extreme form). Osama was born a year later when she was 15, and Mohamed divorced her before she was 18. She and Osama lived in a huge compound with all Mohamed’s other wives and children, but held a lowly status.
Osama seems to have worshipped his mother. I can picture a scenario where it was the two of them against the world, so to speak. Isolated and out of favor. There is a particularly spooky quote, where someone says that Osama used to sit at his mother’s feet and “caress” her.
Many of Osama’s older half-brothers, and even some of his half-sisters, were sent away to boarding schools all over the world–the U.S., Britain, Lebanon (considered the most “liberal” of the Mideast countries). Osama went to boarding school too, but it had to be in Saudi Arabia. It’s there, at approximately 15, that he came under the influence of a teacher who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. In my opinion, it’s then that his rage and resentment and feelings of neglect came together under the cover of an idea. The ideology never comes first–the aptitude for it does. He was ripe for the picking.
He later said himself that from 15 to 21 is the best age from which to choose people to wage jihad.
His ideology is not at all uncommon in the Middle East. Blaming Jews and the U.S. for all ills is rampant. The difference is the lengths to which Osama was willing to go. The Koran specifically prohibits killing women and children, for example. When he was questioned about 9/11, which did just that, he was forced to weasel. On one hand, as the upholder of “pure” Islam as he fancies himself, he couldn’t say the Koran was wrong. And he couldn’t say the killing of women and children was accidental. He had to say, Well, they are killing our women and children, aren’t they? He is not a great, nor logical, thinker.
In the end here, what you have is a curious combination of insecurity and megalomania.
So I have revised my opinion as to what we should do about him. Like many if not most Americans, I’ve held that we should hunt him down like a dog and kill him on the spot. Now I think that with any luck, it will be the Pakistanis who catch him. Or the Egyptians, or the Saudis. Preferably the Saudis. If we do it, he will only become a martyr, which is what he hopes for and expects.
It’s the Arab nations who should repudiate and humiliate him. So he needs to be captured.
You know, I have a little dog, a Basenji. Basenjis are African hunting dogs, and classically, they are used in packs to drive small game (e.g., rabbits) into a net, previously strung by the hunters. That’s what the U.S. needs to be now: the Basenji.