24.3.10

Is Bin Laden the Modern Day Don Quixote?


Cervantes wrote The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha (Don Quixote) in the early 17th century. It is a novel about a retired country gentleman who has become obsessed with books on chivalry and knighthood. Don Quixote believes every word he reads even though many of the events of the knights are not true. Don Quixote decides to become a knight and embark on a journey to look for adventure.

Osama bin Laden faced a similar situation. The United States and the Saudi regime, along with private donors, poured money into the construction of military bases in Afghanistan during the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1980's. When the Soviets were pushed out of Afghanistan in 1989, these military bases and their soldiers, who were trained by al Qaeda, stayed behind. Bin Laden was among these soldiers who no longer had a war to fight. Like Don Quixote, bin Laden also went looking for adventure. He found it by declaring war on the United States and unleashing the jihadis all over the world to undertake their own violent operations.

Don Quixote ends with the protagonist regaining his sanity and renouncing all chivalry, a form of irrational cleansing. Cervantes is regarded as one of the greatest authors that has ever lived, and the wisdom that his protagonist gained has been a lesson passed down to us today. Let's hope bin Laden learns Don Quixote's lesson and has a similar manifestation.

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Known Terrorist Groups

Al-Qaida has cooperated with a number of known terrorist groups worldwide including:

  • Armed Islamic Group
  • Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group
  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt)
  • Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya
  • Jamaat Islamiyya
  • The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
  • Bayt al-Imam (Jordan)
  • Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir)
  • Asbat al Ansar
  • Hezbollah (Lebanon)
  • Al-Badar
  • Harakat ul Ansar/Mujahadeen
  • Al-Hadith
  • Harakat ul Jihad
  • Jaish Mohammed - JEM
  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
  • Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan
  • Laskar e-Toiba - LET
  • Moro Islamic Liberation Front (the Philippines)
  • Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines)
  • Al-Ittihad Al Islamiya - AIAI (Somalia)
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
  • Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen)
  • Armed Islamic Group
  • Salafist Group for Call and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group
  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt)
  • Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya
  • Jamaat Islamiyya
  • The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
  • Bayt al-Imam (Jordan)
  • Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir)
  • Asbat al Ansar
  • Hezbollah (Lebanon)
  • Al-Badar
  • Harakat ul Ansar/Mujahadeen
  • Al-Hadith
  • Harakat ul Jihad
  • Jaish Mohammed - JEM
  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
  • Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan
  • Laskar e-Toiba - LET
  • Moro Islamic Liberation Front (the Philippines)
  • Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines)
  • Al-Ittihad Al Islamiya - AIAI (Somalia)
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
  • Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen)
  • Jihad and the Internet

    Let’s not fool ourselves. Whatever threat the real Afghanistan poses to U.S. national security, the “Virtual Afghanistan” now poses just as big a threat. The Virtual Afghanistan is the network of hundreds of jihadist Web sites that inspire, train, educate and recruit young Muslims to engage in jihad against America and the West. Whatever surge we do in the real Afghanistan has no chance of being a self-sustaining success, unless there is a parallel surge — by Arab and Muslim political and religious leaders — against those who promote violent jihadism on the ground in Muslim lands and online in the Virtual Afghanistan.

    Thomas L. Friedman
    New York Times
    15 Dec 2009

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