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Friday, May 06, 2011

Mark Steel: The modern jihadist must be on Twitter

Mark Steel

What seems strange is that if this raid was watched live on film, wouldn't someone have bought the rights and released it on DVD by now? Americans aren't usually slow with a commercial opportunity. They probably arranged a three-minute gap between the two shots fired at Bin Laden, to allow for a commercial break. It would become the best-selling film ever. But so far, they've not even put a tiny clip on YouTube.

We've seen that photo of them in the White House, looking tense as they apparently watch the raid live, but for all we know they're watching the snooker, and Hillary Clinton's gasping because Judd Trump missed a crucial blue. Some newspapers might be happier if the film isn't seen, as it leaves them free to make up whatever they like. So it's reported Bin Laden "was a coward to the end", and died "cowering behind his wife". By the weekend it will be revealed that he "crawled along the floor dribbling, saying: 'The Twin Towers stunt was her idea, not mine, but she kept nagging me, so in the end I gave in. Shoot her and all my bodyguards instead of me and I'll be good from now on, honest.' "

Because this fits the image we like to have of him, as if it makes any difference. If he'd died "properly", standing on the balcony yelling like Al Pacino in Scarface, would the headlines read: "You may not have agreed with all his policies but fair's fair, he put up a decent fight at the end"?

Other parts of the report could be open to doubt, such as The Sun's quotes from the neighbours. If they followed the routine of when a murderer is discovered on a housing estate, they should have said: "He always kept himself to himself and seemed very polite. It's come as quite a shock that we were next door to a crazed, evil genocidal fundamentalist jihadist lunatic." Instead we're told: "Tractor driver Raza Khan, 34, said: 'I think they were training in there. I heard them say the word jihad." Isn't that always the way? You hear neighbours drilling and saying jihad but think nothing of it, then when it turns out to be a mass-murdering Islamist you wonder why you'd never put two and two together in the first place. Surely there was another neighbour who heard them say: "Mumble mumble evil plan mutter explosives cough take over the world snigger THE FOOLS mwahahahahaha."

But in the end the pathetic nature of his existence displays the reality of the "war on terror". He's clearly had little influence over events for some time, so isolated he couldn't even get a telephone line, unaware that to be a modern jihadist you need to be on Twitter and Facebook, and not rely on occasional grainy videos. 

So the "war on terror" has successfully wiped out a washed-up Bin Laden after 10 years, but at the cost of invading two countries, leaving mayhem in each, making peace in Israel less likely than ever, and enraging millions of people.

The Arab uprisings, mass movements uniting people of all religions, have been more effective in destabilising tyrants than Bin Laden's outrages. But every one of those uprisings has been fought against dictators supported by the US as allies in the "war on terror". So maybe Obama should arrange some more raids, to capture those who armed and supported Mubarak, Gaddafi, King Fahd and the rest, and this time release footage of Bush and Rumsfeld being chased through their compounds in their underpants, as a symbol of friendship with the masses of the Middle East. 

It could even be part of a box set with a Location, Location, Location special, in which a couple are persuaded to buy a delightful suburban residence, recently vacated, no chain, of historic interest, at a splendidly low price due to a few holes in the walls and over-attentive neighbours. 

The Independent Wednesday, 4 May 2011

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