From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Osama's "entirely modern sensibilities"

March 30, 2004 11:07 PM

From an Atlantic Monthly review of Peter Bergen's Holy War Inc.:

According to Bergen, [Osama bin Laden] subsequently cut his teeth in the family business and later used corporate-management techniques he had learned in the classroom and on the job to transform al Qaeda (Arabic for "the Base"), which he founded, into the world's preeminent terrorist organization. [He] achieved this by cleverly combining an Islamic fundamentalist world view with the technological munificence of modernity: al Qaeda operatives, for example, encrypt messages on Macintosh or Toshiba computers, communicate by e-mail or on Interact bulletin boards, use satellite telephones, and fly first class. As Bergen explains, "this grafting of entirely modern sensibilities and techniques to the most radical interpretation of holy war is the hallmark of bin Laden's network." Bergen offers the professionally produced and edited two-hour al Qaeda recruitment videotape that bin Laden circulated throughout the Middle East last summer (which also subtly presaged the September 11 attacks) as an example of bin Laden's nimble exploitation of "twenty-first-century communications and weapons technology in the service of the most extreme, retrograde reading of holy war." The tape, with its footage of "infidels" attacking Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Indonesia; of children starving under the yoke of UN economic sanctions in Iraq; and of the accursed "Crusader" military forces in the holy land of Arabia, was subsequently converted to DVD format for ease in copying onto computers and uploading to the World Wide Web for global dissemination.

More from the archive in Tech, Terrorism.

Osama's "entirely modern sensibilities" (03.30.2004)

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