The present case study touches upon such a serious contemporary issue as terrorism. A number of Arabic and Western media accused Osama Bin Laden in being involved in terrorism and supporting it. The interviewee addresses this accusation and explains the reasons for terrorism and the justifications for it, providing several examples in favor of his argument. Although the reasoning of Osama Bin Laden might seem logical and sound at the first glance, however, there are some serious loopholes in his attempt to justify terrorism.
While it is easy to get lost in the immense amount of terrorism definitions, there are some aspects that they all have in common. Terrorism is characterized by use of coercion to promote one’s views; it is a systematic action; and, most importantly, it is a political action (Hoffman 2). According to Bin Laden, terrorism can be justified if it is aimed at the criminals, traitors, oppressors, and other enemies of the state. However, he doesn’t seem to distinguish between the religious motives and political ones. The reason for this is the fact that Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were largely motivated by a doctrine of so-called Jihadism, a notion deeply intertwined with Islam (Law 281). Alongside stating purely political justifications he also mentions the aggression against Allah and the treason against faith as his justifications for terrorism.
Before justifying terrorist acts, Osama Bin Laden provides a thorough description of people who can be attacked by terrorists. By Osama Bin Laden’s definition, noninnocents are those, in short, who “contemplate” to attack the given country or its citizens. In a broader sense, noninnocent is anyone who terrorizes the Arabic nation or subjects it to aggression (Vaughn 754). It is clear from this definition that the notion can be conveniently applied to any person. For anyone aware of the logical fallacies such a definition is a mere contradictory statement where the second part negates the first one completely. Taken to extreme, this definition can be applied to any person who looked the wrong way or voiced an unpleasing thought, which is not the objective definition by any measure.
In further building his argument in favor of terrorism, Bin Laden provides examples of the wrongdoings of Americans towards Arabic nation. Even supposing that those examples are accurate (assertion on which requires a separate analysis) they still do not justify the terrorist actions against civilians. The UN Resolution in its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy states that the General Assembly unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms due to its being one of the most significant threats to international peace and security (UN General Assembly 2). Such actions not only go against all laws of morality, human rights or common sense, but they also do not follow the justifiable terrorism definition uttered by Bin Laden himself. At the very beginning he acknowledges that terrorizing an innocent person is unjust; therefore, only people directly responsible for the evil actions committed against Muslims have to be punished by terrorism. Till the end of his answer, however, he seems to forget his own preceding argument.
Analyzing the interview of Osama Bin Laden and comparing his understanding of terrorism with the existing literature on the subject it can be concluded that there are several discrepancies between the two. With such rather liberal and incomprehensive notion of terrorism as Bin Laden proclaims in the interview there is little space for a productive dialogue between the opposing groups. The first step to mutual understanding is agreeing on definitions of the relevant terms. Until that is done, the conflict will continue.