Long before Al Qaeda terrorist Osama Bin Laden conspired and executed a nefarious attack on the twin towers in New York, thereby causing western countries to identify him as the dreaded face of the Islamic terrorism, he was hailed by the media organisations of those very countries as a “philanthropist” helping to build roads for the poor in Sudan.
Exactly 27 years ago, on the 6th of December 1993, an article published in The Independent, sought to gloss over the jihadist proclivities of Osama Bin Laden and instead cut him a figure of a benevolent warrior building roads to peace with the help of his ‘mujahedin army’.
The article titled “Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace: The Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan.” was published on 6 December 1993 in which Osama Bin Laden was ennobled as a magnanimous Saudi civil engineer who had repurposed his ‘mujahedin army’ that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan for the construction projects in Sudan.
Glorifying Osama Bin Laden and Islamic fundamentalism that followed in his wake, the article said that he played a pivotal role in repelling the advancing Soviet forces in the Afghan war by providing essential training and assistance to the mujahedin fighters.
“When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written, Mr Bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujahedin – and the indirect result of his training and assistance – may turn out to be a turning- point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism; even if, today, he tries to minimise his role,” the article said.
The article also attempted to rationalise the jihadist movement spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan with the help of mujahids from countries across the Middle East by highlighting how he fought a ‘righteous’ war and later employed the mujahideen fighters in the charitable work of constructing a highway from Khartoum to Port Sudan.
Western media provided a platform to Osama Bin Laden to justify his jihad against Russians in Afghanistan
Not only did the Independent painted a rosy picture of Osama Bin Laden, but it also provided its platform to a terrorist who later went on to become the chief of Al Qaeda terror outfit. In its interview with The Independent, Laden justified his guerilla warfare by his trained militias against the Russians in Afghanistan, claiming that he did to emancipate the Muslims from their miseries.
In the interview, Laden also portrayed himself as an unflappable warrior who had achieved a zen-like composure and was not racked by the possibility of death during the ongoing war.
“Once I was only 30 metres from the Russians and they were trying to capture me. I was under bombardment but I was so peaceful in my heart that I fell asleep. This experience has been written about in our earliest books. I saw a 120mm mortar shell land in front of me, but it did not blow up. Four more bombs were dropped from a Russian plane on our headquarters but they did not explode. We beat the Soviet Union. The Russians fled,” Laden said in the interview.
Osama Bin Laden executes 9/11 attacks against the United States
While the western media attempted to rationalise and justify the jihadist movement launched by Osama Bin Laden against America’s cold war adversary—Russia, they did not realise that the chickens will come home to roost someday. Almost 8 years after the western media described him as a benevolent warrior, the world witnessed the biggest Islamic terrorist attacks on the American soil, executed by the mujahideens trained and assisted by Osama Bin Laden. The attacks which were carried out on 11 September 2001 came to be called as 9/11 attacks, which were a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
Two American planes hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists, crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center complex in Manhattan, killing 3000 people and injuring over 6,000 others. Within two hours of the attack, both the 110-storey towers collapsed. The attack instantly catapulted Osama Bin Laden to the top of the list of the terrorists wanted by the United States.
Laden hiding in Pakistan’s Abbottabad neutralised by America’s SEAL hit team
Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan, in a bid to bring the conspirators of the twin tower attacks to reckoning. In its quest to find Laden, America expanded its dragnet and inevitably got mired into interminable wars in the middle east, invading Iraq shortly after Afghanistan. However, Osama Bin Laden continued to evade US forces.
With years of dogged perseverance, Washington was finally able to nail the whereabouts of its arch-enemy. Osama Bin Laden was found hiding in a modest compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. On 2 May 2011, American Navy SEALs flew into Pakistan from a base in Afghanistan in the dead of the night and raided the compound where Laden was hiding. The SEALs encountered him on the third floor of the building. He was neutralised on the spot and his body, after identification, was subsequently taken along by the American troops and buried deep in the sea at an unidentified location.