After a report was leaked and statements were made concerning the confirmation or refutation of the death of Osama Bin Laden, which prompted French President Jacques Chirac and U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to comment, the following thought came to mind: What if the Al Qaeda leader released a videotape in which he reveals that he has been suffering from depression and distress for some time and that he has chosen to review what is happening in the world as a result of his ideology and that of his followers?
After considering the suffering that people of all religions have endured, from murder to mayhem, economic damages, the fall of two Muslims countries after 9/11 as well the afflictions of Muslims in their everyday lives and the damage to the reputation of the followers of Islam, Bin Laden decides that during this recording he will declare his remorse for his actions, renounce his ideology, request that his supporters and the Muslim youth do not follow his example and his words and ask them to devote themselves to the tolerant and flawless religion. He would also request that they learn from religious scholars and do not isolate themselves from the community or break the line of submission.
What would be the reaction if Bin Laden actually said these words? Would they abandon this ideology and repent? Would we finally be able to say that Al Qaeda, its thinking and its ills are over? Of course, the answer is no!
At that point, Bin Laden’s disciples would exceed him in search of another perhaps even more austere Bin Laden! Some will say, “Do you see that he is a traitor?” They will surpass him just as a violent flood pushes past all that which stands in its way. There are many examples and evidences to prove this.
In Saudi Arabia, when Nasser al Fahd, one of the three famous Takfir advocates and a main source, through his publications, for the Al Qaeda ideology, announced his abandonment of this ideology, his students and followers wrote ‘We ask God to grant him steadfastness as the believer is suffering.’
Therefore, what remains important is not the death of Bin Laden, or his poor health that has placed his life at risk, rather what is important is that his thoughts are good. Just look at the fundamentalist websites such as Al Sahat, and the promoters of the Al Qaeda ideology including journalists and lecturers who stand on platforms or who talk at social gatherings.
One month ago, I asked a Saudi security official why and how youngsters are joining Al Qaeda despite the constant Saudi successes of countering terrorism. He answered, “because of the Imam of deception.” I asked about the identity of the “Imam of deception” and he replied, “The internet!”
This issue is not confined to Saudi Arabia as information has revealed that the London bombers were also recruited via the internet.
However, is the internet alone responsible? What about the teachers and lecturers, both male and female as extremism is widespread even amongst women?
I would like to say that if Washington wants to hear news of Bin Laden’s death so that President Bush can finish his presidential term knowing that his mortal enemy has passed away, even if some people in this world await this news so that they can say that evil has ceased to exist, we must remember that the ideology remains intact and that there are those who would exert all their efforts to maintain Bin Laden’s way of thinking. This is what is important.