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Osama Bin Laden’s Writings Reveal Al-Qaeda ‘Marketing Problem’

Ulet Ifansasti, Getty Images

In his final days, Osama bin Laden was not a happy man.

He felt al-Qaeda was killing too many Muslims, causing it to suffer a “marketing problem.” The West was winning the public relations war.

So what was called for, he thought, was a new name.

The issue with the group’s name, he wrote, was that it wasn’t being used in full. Originally al-Qaeda al-Jihad, for The Base of Holy War, it had become known simply as al-Qaeda. Eliminating the word “jihad,” bin Laden wrote, allowed the West to “claim deceptively that they are not at war with Islam.”

Because of this, he was considering other names such as Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad (meaning Monotheism and Jihad Group) or Jama’at I’Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida (meaning Restoration of the Caliphate Group).

The writings were part of the materials seized when Navy SEALs stormed bin Laden’s compound and killed him on May 1, 2011.

In a speech on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said, “The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al-Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that […] al-Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam, thereby draining more widespread support.”

With many more bin Laden documents still to be analyzed, this is surely only the beginning of revelations from inside the mind of one of the world’s most infamous terrorists.


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