Tuesday, May 10, 2011
An Open Letter to Omar bin Laden
(Son of Osama bin Laden)
[Note to other readers: Omar bin Laden is the fourth-oldest son of the late Osama bin Laden.]
May 10, 2011
Dear Mr. Omar bin Laden,
I am writing in response to statements attributed to you in a report by Reuters, to the effect that the recent killing by U.S. forces of your father, Osama bin Laden, was “criminal,” and that his burial at sea by these forces “demeans and humiliates his family and supporters.” The report indicates that you stated that your father’s burial in the Arabian Sea “challenges religious provisions and feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims.” If these remarks have been attributed to you erroneously, I ask you to ignore the rest of my comments here. Below, I assume that these remarks are correctly attributed to you. My comments are also directed to those others whom the Reuters report states have taken issue with these events on the same grounds.
Your objections are at best silly and worthy of ridicule. At worst, they exhibit a deep moral blindness of the sort that has alienated many people all over the world from Islam itself, however unfairly.
The killing of Osama bin Laden was an act of war against a man who had publicly declared war on the United States, and who had publicly taken credit for the 9/11 attacks that killed thousands of non-combatants on American soil. Killing a man who gleefully killed thousands as an act of war is hardly criminal. To you, and to those of a radical Islamist persuasion who have declared war on the United States, America says this: you want war, you’ve got war. But don’t expect it to be pretty. And members of al Qaeda can expect to see more of the same, in coming days. That's what people get when they ask for war.
Yes, the United States conducted this attack on the territory of another sovereign nation, without that nation’s permission. Given that Osama bin Laden had been hiding in plain sight, apparently for years, sheltered within a community of active and retired military officers, we have every reason to believe that elements of that sovereign nation have been playing treacherously while acting as our supposed allies. Certainly it was the acts of this element that were not only criminal, but even a treasonous offense against the government of Pakistan itself.
As far as the fact that Osama bin Laden was unarmed at the time he was killed—oh, come now. This was war, a war that he first declared. He killed thousands of people on 9/11 who were equally unarmed. There is an ancient saying that uses a farmer's metaphor: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Osama bin Laden reaped the crop of violence that he himself had sown so spectacularly.
What should, in all decency, be held as demeaning and humiliating to the family of Osama bin Laden is not the manner of his death and burial, but rather the murderous acts which earned him that death and burial. This was a man who killed thousands of noncombatants in a sneak attack. He killed thousands of people—parents to children now orphans, children to parents now bereft, brothers and sisters to siblings now mourning—people who had nothing whatever to do with the argument between radical Islamists and the United States government. Those murders are what put shame on his family; those murders are what should be considered a humiliation.
Was Osama bin Laden concerned about the horrifying deaths that his victims endured? Was he the least bit concerned about their burials? About the effects of their deaths upon their families? About their survivors’ “feelings”? Of course not. At least the United States forces, albeit perhaps in a clumsy way, tried to follow what they thought were the rudiments of Islamic custom in burying Osama bin Laden’s body. No similar concern was shown by Osama bin Laden regarding those whom he had attacked.
In this context, your complaints seem haughty to the point of the ludicrous. Your complaints give Islam itself a bad name, because you clearly take no consideration of the murders that Osama bin Laden committed, and show no concern for his victims. You would serve the cause of Islam well by making a clear and unequivocal condemnation of your father’s murders on 9/11. Without that, you seem only to align yourself with your father’s murderous activities.
--Mark E. Koltko-Rivera
Focusing on what is important is most definitely On The Mark.
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[The photo of the Arabian Sea as seen from the Karachi Beach in Pakistan was taken on April 6, 2008 by Wikipedia user “Pakistanmera,” who placed it in the public domain. The image was obtained from Wikipedia.]
(Copyright 2011 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)