Their Master’s Voice



“Four years after September 11, several new books now present well-annotated, chronologically organized collections of bin Laden’s words. […] They do not, by and large, make for fascinating reading. As Bruce Lawrence […] notes […] the arch terrorist is, above all, a polemicist. He is a soapbox orator, scoring unsubtle points in an imaginary debate by drawing on a mix of Islamic scripture, faddish political constructs, and gross exaggeration, as well as real historical grievances. […] For all his aura of religious punctiliousness, bin Laden twists Islamic texts to his purposes. He seems happy to engage in factual distortion and, occasionally, the politician’s bald-faced lie. […] So misplaced are many of his citations from Islamic scripture that in all likelihood, one of the best ways to diminish the al-Qaeda leader’s stature would be to publish his words more widely in the Muslim world.” - story