I pose my headline as a question because I’m frankly unsure as to the accuracy of the reporting.
By Walter Russel Mead | The American Interest; Via Media
The big news today: according to family members, by the end of his life Osama bin Laden was telling his family to “Go to Europe and America and get a good education.”
What? The great Islamic umma, center of global culture and light of the world has no universities where the children of the Great Jihadi can get a decent education? The clueless, hell-bound infidels of Europe and America make the Sons of the True Faith look incompetent and backward on the vital matter of educating the young? It isn’t enough to sit on a dirt floor in Pakistan memorizing the Koran and learning how to wear a suicide bomb vest?
The link in the first paragraph of Mead’s piece leads to the UK’s [Daily]Mail Online, which in turn quotes from the UK’s Sunday Times [of London]. The Sunday Times (like the tired gray crone of Gotham) lives behind a pay wall, and this is not linked. Reporting sourcing aside, the story itself is reported at third hand (by the brother of bin Laden’s fifth wife), and is suspect [in my mind] because bin Laden’s progeny are in need of asylum.
That large grain of salt having been planted, the story continues:
But what about the obligation to take up the cause of jihad and violence and crush the evil doers in the West?
Never mind about all that, Osama supposedly told his children and grandchildren. “Do not follow me down the road to jihad,” he said. “You have to study and live in peace and don’t do what I am doing or what I have done.”
Not quite a conversion on the road to Damascus, but a dramatic (if true) departure from salafi doctrine.
All those Salafi ideologues promoting the idea of jihad against the West as a sacred obligation compulsory on all Muslims are presumably choking on their beards as they read these words. The homosexual-hangers and the adultress-stoners are having a bad morning. No doubt they will tell themselves that this story is yet another lie from the cynical west, but they will have to wrap themselves ever more tightly in the delusions and wishful thinking that blinker their thoughts — and undermine their political effectiveness.
Beside welcoming evidence, however questionable, that a terrible sinner was exploring the path of repentance however tentatively, Via Meadia gloats. Bin Laden’s path was a dead end in more ways than one; any sign that he knew how futile his bloody deeds were and that his effort to topple American power had failed is welcome.
Whether true or untrue, this will pose lasting issues for the sons of the prophet.
If true, it will pose interesting questions for our own political scene:
Did Obama “get” someone who had turned away from terrorism and who represented (alive) a propaganda coup?
Was George Bush correct in his assessment that bin Laden wasn’t that important anymore?
We may never know with any certainty.
Hat Tip: Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds