BIN LADEN’S IDEOLOGY: “Our Youth Love Death as you Love Life”
Richard A. Koenigsberg
Bin Laden on Love of Death
1) These youths love death as you love life.
2) Our youth believe in paradise after death.
3) If death is a predetermined must, then it is a shame to die cowardly.
4) Who do not die by the sword will die by other reason.
5) The best of the martyrs are those who do not turn their faces away from the battle till they are killed.
6) A martyr will not feel the pain of death except how you feel when you are pinched.
7) A martyr's privileges are guaranteed by Allah; forgiveness with the first gush of his blood, he will be shown his seat in paradise.
8) Those youths have no intention except to enter paradise by killing you.
9) The man who gets killed fighting them today, surely Allah will let him into Paradise.
10) Those youth are different from your soldiers. Your problem will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to restrain our youth.
11) Death is truth and the ultimate destiny, and life will end anyway.
12) Without shedding blood, no degradation and branding can be removed from the forehead.
Osama Bin Laden was a “philosopher” of Islamic jihad and terrorism. A definitive statement of his ideology appeared in a London-based newspaper on August, 1996. The text was a fatwa: “Declaration of War against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places (Expel the Infidels from the Arab Peninsula).”

It was the duty of every tribe on the Arab Peninsula, Bin Laden said, to “fight jihad in the cause of Allah and to cleanse the land from their occupiers.” Terrorizing Americans, as long as they were “carrying arms in our land,” was a “legitimate and morally demanded duty.”

Addressing the American government, Bin Laden stated that his followers would continue their struggle “as long as they live.” His men would wage war until the Americans were “expelled, defeated and humiliated.”

The table to the right consists of statements from this “Declaration of War”—articulating Bin Laden’s ideology of martyrdom. The best of the martyrs would “not turn their faces away from the battle until they were killed.” Death was a non-issue—because his young men believed in “paradise after death.”

Asserting the superiority of his young men to American youth, Bin Laden asserted, “These youths love death as you love life.” His young men “are different from your soldiers.” Whereas the problem of American leaders was how to “convince your troops to fight,” his problem was how to “restrain our youth to wait for their turn.”

In this “Declaration of War,” Bin Laden asserted the superiority of Moslems to Americans. Whereas his people possessed sacred values for which they were willing to die and kill, Americans possessed no such sacred values.

Americans, Bin Laden claimed, lacked courage. In a statement that  would be widely quoted, Bin Laden taunted Defense Secretary William Perry about the American withdrawal from Mogadishu:

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where, after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post-cold war leadership of the new world order, you moved tens of thousands of international forces, including twenty-eight thousand American soldiers, into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu, you left the area in disappointment, humiliation, and defeat, carrying your dead with you.

Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You had been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear.

By virtue of withdrawing from battle, Bin Laden claimed, American “impotence and weakness” had been revealed. Bill Clinton ordered withdrawal because he (and Americans) lacked courage, that is, could not tolerate the death of American soldiers.

Bin Laden understood unwillingness to die in battle as a flaw: cowardice, or lack of courage. Whereas his soldiers accepted—embraced—death in battle, American leaders retreated from battle when soldiers died.

Thus, the stage was set for everything that was to follow. Bin Laden had laid down the gauntlet; defined the terms of battle.

Richard A. Koenigsberg, PhD: (718) 393-1081