Osama bin Laden is not an insurgent leader, but a CEO. A rich kid, he always wanted to prove himself a combatant, but ended up a manager. Osama introduced business concepts to terrorism: seed financing, outsourcing, and franchise. He is not directly engaged in terrorist operations but gives small money to promising aspirants; helps them with inspiration, logistics, and training; and if the attack goes well claims credit for it. If he has nothing to do with the attack whatsoever, Osama still praises it, implying participation; thus he praised 9/11 and the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Osama was clear, for example, in an interview with Najm that he only instigated suicide bombers with his fatwa, but was not directly involved in the attacks. Even so, the Western media firmly connected Bin Laden to the attack in the public mind.

Osama is oblivious to strategic realities. The victory against the Russians in Afghanistan was not a Muslim victory, but a product of tribal liberation struggle, Pakistani safe haven and logistics, American and British weapons, and Saudi money. The situation was unique, and cannot be replicated in Gaza under the nose of Israel or in totalitarian Egypt. Osama fails to realize that there are no Afghan mountains in America. Muslims can perpetrate a few terrorist acts in the West, but are fundamentally incapable of launching a large-scale guerrilla war like in Afghanistan.

Osama is a typical Saudi: semi-educated, artful but otherwise less than smart, and arrogant. Other Saudis pay families of Palestinian suicide bombers or Hamas, come to the jihad safari in Afghanistan, and call for the liberation of Jerusalem. Saudis positioned themselves at the head of the international terrorist syndicate without being involved in its day-to-day activities. Osama went a step further than his compatriots and imagines that he controls the worldwide jihad from his villa on Islamic frontiers. Real guerrillas don’t care about his self-assumed leadership as long as he disburses some cash.

Osama is not the Warren Buffett of the desert. His business empire sells cashews and the like. Osama, to all appearances, is not directly involved in the drug trade. He relies on dependable collection of accounts receivable (al Qaeda probably doesn’t have a problem with bad debts), smuggling, and an available pool of labor among militants in his camps. Osama’s investments in terrorism are incomparably lower than Iran’s, Syria’s, or Muslim Brotherhood’s. His entire network of training camps in Sudan cost $2 million at the most, and accommodated less than a thousand jihadists at a time. As the events show, even of those volunteers very few committed terrorist acts. Training of terrorists—lone wolves in a hostile environment—requires superb psychological skills. The required level of training is so high that Libya could not build terrorist units of its own and relied on foreign mercenary terrorists. Osama’s camps concentrated on regular military training, which was irrelevant to terrorists until America gave them a chance in Iraq. Osama built shacks rather than army camps, and his training and ideological work came to failure.

That all Arab terrorists cooperate with security agencies once arrested and divulge sensitive information also shows the poor quality of their training. Osama might not have much choice in the matter; Israeli police know that a ritual of a few slaps makes Palestinian terrorists talk. Osama wrongly projects Arab cowardice onto Americans, and imagines they ran from Yemen and Somalia under Muslim attacks (US troops only transited Yemen and had no business in Somalia). Arab cowardice in jails is a function of their collectivism and lack of ideologically inspired determination. Arabs are not used to individualism and thus to individual action. Separated from their mob, they quickly succumb to enemies. The Arabs thus make bad lone terrorists and soft interrogation targets. Considering Arab cowardice and treachery, the absence of voluntary defections from Bin Laden’s camp is puzzling—unless we accept that Osama just doesn’t have a significant number of associates to defect.

Initially in Afghanistan, Osama tried to position himself as religious leader. The Afghan-Soviet war was a tribal war of liberation, with no religious overtones for the participants. Osama tried to instill religious zeal in the Afghans, and sponsored religious education in mujahedeen camps—to no avail. After unsuccessful attempts to author jihad fatwas, Osama finally resigned himself to arranging the necessary fatwas from third-tier Muslim scholars. Osama’s important achievement lies in bridging the gap between religion and politics—something that Jews fail to do, causing us to assimilate. Osama argues that religion is actionable and shapes strategic reality. For him, Islam equals freedom of Muslim expression equals fighting the American and Israeli intruders.

Osama’s morals are flawed. He voiced no opposition to the Taliban’s slaughter of Afghan Shiites. He was unconcerned by the clearly unreasonable number of Black Muslim casualties (250:1) in the attacks on the US embassies in Africa.

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