What is, in your view, Osama bin Laden's ultimate goal? Is it simply the destruction of Western culture and/or the United States in the name of Allah? Or is there something beyond that in terms of a primary Islamic world culture?
Steve Coll responds:
He's a complicated figure in some respects because he mixes temporal political grievances -- the cause of the Palestinians, the war in Iraq -- with millenarian theology. At times he describes his struggle the way any number of political pundits in the Middle East might. At other times he describes it as a war ordained by God against non-believers that can only end on Judgment Day. I think the latter is what he truly believes; it is certainly what he says over and over.