A recently resurfaced letter penned by Osama bin Laden, the warlord responsible for the horrifying 9/11 attacks, has gained significant attention on TikTok. In this letter, titled 'Letter to America', bin Laden justifies and defends his motivation behind the murderous assault that claimed thousands of innocent lives in 2001. Shockingly, many TikTok users have publicly embraced bin Laden's distorted ideologies, believing they provide an understanding of the reasoning behind the attacks.
The viral videos, shared under the hashtag 'LettertoAmerica', have amassed a staggering 7.3 million views thus far. These videos, however, fail to provide the proper context of bin Laden's life as a jihadist, where he orchestrated the slaughter of both Muslims and non-Muslims and supported oppressive political regimes. Instead, those participating in the trend seem to confuse bin Laden's hateful diatribe for an intellectual think piece.
The resurfacing of bin Laden's letter gained traction after the UK newspaper, The Guardian, included a link to it in an article covering the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The link was later removed, which The Guardian stated was due to the letter being shared without its original context. Nevertheless, the exact connection between the letter and the present Middle East conflict remains unclear.
Bin Laden's letter is replete with anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western sentiments. He cites the US support for Israel as one of the main reasons behind the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, bin Laden accuses the US government of spreading AIDS worldwide and criticizes American society for being infiltrated by Jewish people who allegedly control policies, media, and economy.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio mocked the TikTok users who are endorsing bin Laden's letter, expressing his disbelief at the notion that after reading it, they now consider terrorism a legitimate method of resistance against 'oppression' and believe America deserved to be attacked on 9/11.
The Guardian, in response to the removal of the letter from their website, stated that the document had been widely shared on social media without proper context. They directed readers to the original news article that initially contextualized the letter. TikTok users criticized the removal as an act of narrative control.
This resurgence of bin Laden's letter coincides with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu's denial of allegations of war crimes committed by the Israeli military in Gaza, where the death toll has reportedly surpassed 11,000. The region has been embroiled in conflict since Hamas violently invaded Israel, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,400 people.
Whilst TikTok can serve as a platform for communication and understanding, it is concerning when extremist ideologies are propagated and embraced. It is essential for users to critically assess content and consider the context and consequences of the ideas they choose to amplify.