TERRY DIGNAN: Osama Bin Laden - terrorist
and propagandist, a man who employs both violence and the media to further
his cause. Using television appearances, he and his associates exploit
the grievances of the Arab and Muslim worlds. To the dismay of governments
in the West, and the Middle East, from his hideout in Afghanistan his message
strikes a chord.
ABDUL BARI ATWAN: The messages of Osama Bin Laden
which he passed through satellite channels start to actually make its effect
on the people. We noticed that certain parts of the Middle East, especially
in the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia welcome these messages and support Osama
DIGNAN: Many of those who have
tuned in to bin Laden's propaganda sympathise with his description of Arab
and Muslim grievances. Tackle these grievances, they say, and you remove
the root causes of the terrorism aimed at the United States. But just how
much room for manouvre is there on issues like Palestine and Iraq? And
even if the West adopted a new approach to the Middle East, would it be
enough for the likes of bin Laden?
IMAM HAMZA YUSEF: All of the Muslims that I know,
none of them in any way were pleased with what happened with September
11th. I think they were devastated by it, but I think unfortunately in
the Muslim world there are a great deal of people who feel, one, it's come
uppance time, it's chickens coming home to roost.
JAMES RUBIN: Certainly there are American
foreign policies that are not popular in the Arab world and the Muslim
world, in Europe or in Asia, and that's a reality that American politicians
and leaders have to deal with on almost every subject. But none of that
should be linked to the mass murder of innocent civilians.
DIGNAN: On Thursday Israeli viewers
watched the funeral of their assassinated tourism minister. The next morning
the TV crews were in the West Bank to record Israel's response to the killing.
Bin Laden now shrewdly portrays himself as the Palestinians' friend, using
their cause to increase his support.
HANAN ASHRAWI: One way of resolving, one
way of ending this, these fertile grounds for anger, for hostility, for
distrust and for extremism would be to solve the Palestinian question equitably
and legally and justly in order to prevent it's exploitation, in order
to deal with the cause of, of disaffection and discontent. And to give
the US and the West perhaps a means of rectification instead of continuing
this spiral that would feed further extremism.
ATWAN: We have to solve that, and
the Israeli should understand that otherwise, you know, the next generation
of terrorism will use more deadly weapons, maybe anthrax, maybe the VX
gas nerve gas, maybe nuclear small devices, who knows.
DIGNAN; The camera does not lie
- this is a vicious conflict. And maybe an unequal one because Israel's
biggest backer is a superpower. But with America now at war, won't the
Bush administration in Washington feel freer to pressurize Israel's Prime
ASHWARI: Well it hasn't put sufficient
pressure on Israel, number one, because Sharon himself said it, he said
well we control the pro-Israeli lobby or the Jewish lobby controls Washington,
so why should we listen? And it's about time I think that Sharon understands
that this is no longer the case, that the Congress is not willing to confront
the Administration right now.
RUBIN: American administrations
can and should work very hard on the peace process. They can and should
try to acknowledge that there is resentment in the Arab world towards American
support for Israel. But there is a limit to what we can do and there, and
there needs to be an understanding in the Arab world that we have tried
and we have worked on it. And the most recent failure, in my opinion, was
more the result of the Palestinians being unwilling to deal with a remarkable
offer from the Israelis.
DIGNAN: In an age of global broadcasting,
images of human suffering in Iraq have provided bin Laden with a powerful
propaganda weapon. The Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, claims his people
are suffering because of trade sanctions. Britain and America fear removing
the sanctions would enable Saddam to import materials for weapons of mass
destruction. Yet many Muslims believe the policy is inhumane.
ATWAN: The Arabs don't have sympathy
towards Saddam Hussein. They have sympathy towards a fellow Arab country,
to Iraqi people which are Muslim and Christian people. They can see, you
know, this country under the sanction for the last ten years. A million
Iraqi were killed because of this sanction. If you left the situation as
it is now and the country is really under this sanction, killing sanction
you know, in the end you know, they will follow the example of Osama Bin
Laden and create, make the country a safe haven for terrorists for extremists.
DIGNAN: Even if these scenes of
adulation are stage managed for primetime TV, many in the Middle East blame
the West and not Saddam Hussein for the Iraqis' predicament. Removing sanctions,
though, could pose great risks.
RUBIN: Does the World really want
Saddam Hussein to have thousands and thousands and thousands of weapons
of mass destruction like anthrax, like smallpox? And how is the best way
to get rid of that? Sanctions have been a way to do that, it's obviously
got costs, but the real starvation in Iraq to the extent it exists is the
fault of the regime which is spending its money, the oil reserves that
they have and that they can sell, on luxuries for their leaders rather
than food for their people.
DIGNAN: Just over ten years ago
Muslim television audiences saw thousands of American troops arrive on
the soil of Saudi Arabia ahead of the war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi
occupation. Many American troops are still based in the Arabian peninsular
such is the uncertainty about the region's security. Bin Laden's condemnation
of their presence has touched a raw nerve.
ATWAN: It is very very sensitive
issue, because Saudi Arabia host the most holiest shrine on the Arab and
Muslim creeds so this our religion doesn't allow foreign troops to be in
that part of the world. Osama Bin Laden used these troops as an excuse
to mobilise people behind him and to launch attacks against his government
Saudi Arabia and also against these troops, so it is a very sensitive issue,
from the Islamic point of view.
DIGNAN: In 1991 these pictures
of Kuwait's burning oilfields were beamed around the world. Some Western
analysts believe Saddam Hussein is still a threat to Gulf oil producers
- including Saudi Arabia. American troops are there to keep him out.
RUBIN: Americans don't have any
desire to send their troops out in to the Saudi desert and live there all
year long. We were invited in, we were asked in and I think the American
policy-makers would be pleased to pull our troops out if the threat went
DIGNAN: The state-run broadcasting
stations of Arab and Muslim countries echo many of bin Laden's complaints
about the West. Yet his ambitions for the Islamic world are said to threaten
not just the West but the very existence of the governments of the Middle
East. So is there any guarantee that addressing Arab and Muslim grievances
will end the terrorism?
ATWAN: As long as, you know, the
American actually preferring to deal with a rotten, corrupt dictatorship
in the Middle East and ignore the Arab public opinion and Muslim public
opinion, this will create the suitable climate or the ideal climate for
people like Bin Laden to exploit the frustration of people and to pursue
their attacks against western civilisation.
NEIL PARTRICK: Were he and his ability
to wreak terrorist havoc to be successful then one could imagine that there
will be a variety of other challenges within these Gulf countries, not
necessarily Bin Laden and his network, who would challenge the stability
of those regimes and no doubt replace them with ones rather less amenable
to our security interest, and considerably rather more offensive in terms
of human rights.
DIGNAN: These pictures from Al
Jazeera television show Bin Laden and his associates in Afghanistan. Overthrowing
Middle East governments may only be a first step to creating a world divided
between Muslims and everyone else. Terrorist groups like Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda
may not be satisfied until this vision becomes a reality.
PARTRICK: He does make clear and
many of the groups which are believed to be part of his broad network say
that they wish to establish an Uma, an Islamic community, a form of restored
Halifate, a government that is seen to be adhering fully to Islamic principles,
that rules according to the Sharia will unite all the Muslim peoples conceivable
wherever they are in the world.
RUBIN: He would like to see all
of the Arab and Muslim world live like they live in the Taliban's Afghanistan
- a kind of Stone Age Caliphate where there's no freedom, no rights and
no future. Bin Laden and this type of Bin Laden ideology exists in Islam
right now, it needs to be stamped out, it needs to be confronted by the
leaders of the Islamic communities where these people come from.
DIGNAN: Indeed, in Pakistan, the
government has allowed the Taliban to recruit in front of the television
cameras. But some Muslims are optimistic that should the West tackle Islamic
resentment it might slow the flow of volunteers to Bin Laden's cause. Although
it's unlikely to affect those who've already pledged themselves to terrorism.
YUSEF: These people I feel that
have already committed, they've gone over to this extremist side, I don't
think we're gonna win them over. I don't think that they're gonna go away
but I think if we genuinely address the grievances - not in some Machiavellian
lip-service type of address, but really genuinely try to examine the situations,
talk about them on both sides and do something about the present conditions,
I think that we will prevent further recruiting of these, into these type
DIGNAN: Bin Laden has embraced
broadcast technology despite his dislike of the modern world. His message
is that Muslim grievances justify mass murder. Tracking him down may prove
easier than removing the resentment he relies on to further his cause.