Beeman, William

We Killed Osama bin Laden, Now Let’s Kill the Myth

By William O. Beeman
New America Media

The United States is jubilant over the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. However, it will be some time before history catches up with the mythology that arose around him and the al-Qaeda organization in the past 10 years. Osama bin Laden at the end was far from the looming powerful figure he was made out to be. He had outlived his usefulness both as a bogeyman for the West, and as an Islamic responder to the neo-colonialist forces his organization purported to confront.

The principal myth surrounding bin Laden was that his brand of religion represented a mainstream streak of something identified variously as “jihadism” or, in more genteel rhetoric, “political Islam.” This was far from the truth. No doubt, bin Laden justified his actions with questionable theology and bogus fatwas, but his organization’s actions represented an extremist view of religiously justified political action that was embraced by only a fraction of the Islamic world.