hunting bin laden
Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts on Osama bin Laden's holy war against the U.S. and his multinational terrorist organization?   How should America deal with terrorism?
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Osama bin Laden


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you very much for the program on Osama Bin Laden. It was very enlightening. While the reasons for Mr. Bin Laden hatreds are real, there can be no justification for a strike specifically targeting civilians. Mr. Bin Laden hates many countries and institutions from the Saudi monarchy to communism to capitalism. This is an indication of a fanatic of the worst ilk. He will need to be removed as will his organizaton.

The U.S. will need to reassess its foreign policy in regards to the mid-east. Your program highlighted some of the reasons why the U.S. has become an object of hatred. However, it is important to realize that any shifts in policy will result a new set of problems. For example, Mr. Bin Laden is upset with our intervention in Somalia. By the same token, the recent UN conference in Durban proposed to criticize the U.S. for not intervening in the Rwandan genocide (the damned if...scenario). Further, if we abandon support for Israel and moderate Arab states, what would the consequences be? I doubt that Mr. Bin Laden would then unilaterally declare peace.

There are innocents that will be wronged by our response. 5,000 Afgan dead will not bring back the 5,000 innocent victims of Mr. Bin Laden (presumably). Nonetheless, one can be assured that Mr. Bin Laden is planning further attacks. It is our choice, we can eliminate this threat or wait for it to strike again. If the U.S. maintains an intelligent foreign policy, we might be able to minimize the number of heads this Hydra will grow after this one is gone.

Brian Mathis
new york city, new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a 50 year old American citizen. I travel the world for my business. I saw the Frontline show, it was the first that clearly exposed the shallow motives of our government's policies in the Middle East. With unbiased and original information the brave journalists succeeded in exposing the economic interests that are the true reason for our military occupation of the Islamic countries. They also built a compelling picture of the situation from an Islamic point of view.

Naturally, I deplore the use of violence from any human to another for any reason. In my mind there exists no justification for such acts as the pane hijackings. Yet, I can now better understand the frustration of the Islamic community.

It is certain that it is futile declaring war against them, there is no winning only escalating amounts of death and destruction. We should bring our military home, refuse to coddle the governments that may be suppressing their citizens. Allow the countries to settle their own internal affairs. We will have to come up with alternatives to oil and the wealthy oil companies will release their strangle hold on our government. Our leaders should be honest with us and not try to mask their true motifs with ridiculous and condescending calls for patriotism. This type of simplistic talk succeeds to divide and create hatred between cultures. If we believe we are the only ones that can judge with our criteria and are the world's policemen than we have brought this upon ourselves. It is my opinion that our government leaders should except responsibility for bringing this terror to our home. The intelligence community that we pay for with hard earned dollars failed to protect us.

The media should stop sensationalizing the deeds and faces of the perpetrators, it succeeds only in empowering the terrorists in the minds of their followers and desensitizes Americans to the horror of the reality of their acts.

new york, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

The objective of these attacks may not simply be the sad events of last Tuesday but to push America into a military response. This will add support to the claims of others that the USA is an oppressor. Any attack may bring further support to those who organised these acts.

It is also important for any action to be supported by evidence that those being attacked are in fact guilty.

I agree that the USA should ask itself why it is being targeted and to consider amending its forgein policies.

london, england


Dear FRONTLINE,

I too, like several of the visitors to your website, have been asking the question "WHY?".

I am struggling to find an answer and here is as far as I have got - I have no doubt that as a result of its long standing policy of supporting the Israelis both materially and morally against the hapless Palestinians, and for its use of wholesale terror and deprivation against innocent Iraqi civilians during and following the Gulf War, the US is hated as the "enemy" by millions of people in these two nations. The Islamic religion like Christianity is an ancient and proud religion, with a proselytising tradition. Its modern fundamentalist strain seems bent on resisting the economic and cultural onslaught of Western capitalism of which the USA is the leader, which threatens to destroy its traditions and culture. When these two powerful emotional factors are mixed with modern communications technology you get a uniting of fundamentalist Islamic individuals across the world in sympathy with their suffering brethren, ready to promote their version of "pure" Islam and strike back at the "enemy".

I do not believe it is any longer an issue of nation states, but one of individuals banding together to express themselves, albeit in a terrible, extreme way. This may not be justified in any sense, but it must be understood.

Is this broad brush analysis correct ? If it is then the only way forward is for the USA to hunt down the individual criminals, but simultaneously to acknowledge the wrong policies of the past and change them. To seek closer ties with the Muslim world to help it improve its economic condition while respecting its right to its own way of life. To close the chapter on Iraqi sanctions and bring that crushed country back into the world family. To force Israel to desist from building further Jewish settlements on Palestinian soil, to declare Jerusalem the world's first UN-administered city and begin healing the deep schism between the United States and the Islamic world. The angry red flame of the fundamentalists will gradually lose succour and sustenance and subside.

The question is - is the leadership of the USA (and the Western Alliance) as wise as it is powerful ? Sadly, I am not at all sure, but live in hope that good sense will prevail.

bombay, india


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you again for making available this information. I do not agree with most of bin Laden's point of view, and I do think that he is much like Hitler. However, I think we should do everything in our power to respect our enemy bin Laden because of his audacity, if for no other reason. We should only respect him because he is very clever, not because of the other things he does, and this will help us find ways to defeat him. The second point is that the American government ought to keep a great deal of its information about bin Laden secret. I do not blame Frontline for publishing this information since it had already gained access, but I do plame the American government for allowing Frontline to gain this access in the first place. The media is sneaky, and can be unscrupulous and therefore it should never have been granted access to any information about an investigation this serious.

After the bombing, Bush should have simply said, "Yes, we do have some idea who did this. But beyond that, all information about this investigation is completely classified." Already, we have politicians leaking bits and pieces of information that compromise whatever element of surprise we might ever have had if we chose to take more concrete military action against bin laden.

Thanks to our imbecile stupid excessive government openess, if bin Laden ever had any doubt we were coming he now knows for sure. If the Taliban thinks for one moment about openly giving bin Laden over to anyone outside Afghanistan, I think they will find that, when they search for him, he will have already escaped the country and gone, for example into Kashmir, where none of our friends dare go for fear of starting a nuclear war with Pakistan. Or else bin Laden will blackmail the Pakistanis with some kind of last-ditch assault, so that thousands or even millions will be killed if they try to go after him.

W e should immeadiately airdrop large quantities of food into Afghanistan, and we should admit we bear part of the responsibility for the problems there because we encourged bin Laden and others to use weapons provided by us to fight the Soviets. Airdropping food and leaflets, sending radio and loudspeaker messages would be vital. Admitting our previous errors and asking Afghan civillians to openly join together and resist the Taliban would save the lives of many poor and malnourished civillians, and would let us gain respect from the Arab states.

If we are afraid our aircraft would be attacked while airdropping food to Afghanistan, then we should find a way to set off an electromagnetic pulse bomb over our target area before we begin dropping food. This would allow us to permanently disable anything which worked by electricity -- cars, radios, antiaircraft artillery, batteries, anything.

J. Garberson
newton, ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

This is not about one man or his organization. It is about US foreign policy over many decades and especially the critical period just after WW II when certain fixed f.p. decisions took place which I believe caused us to shift from a position of leadership based upon real morality to a position driven more by cold geopolitical, economic and even religious considerations (although only in the sense of religious identity - not principle).

We need a secure landing strip in the middle east which Israel provides and we need to demonize the arab world to enable us to rationalize the ultimate decisions that we might have to make if no viable alternatives can be found to an oil based world economy. I believe that the only possible solutions to our current circumstances require a serious reevaluation of our policies toward this part of the world.

For example, would it kill us to simply say that it is our policy to see that peace talks between Israel and the PLO ultimately achieve as an objective the establishment of a contiguous, self reliant and peaceful Palestinian State based upon pre-1967 borders. Can't we say that our troop presence in Saudi Arabia is temporary or at least take positive steps to diminish its visibility out of respect for Islam. Can't we make it clear to certain people that after Sharon leaves we will not meddle in his possible prosecution for the slaughter of Palestinians in Lebanon by the Christian militia. After all, he is just one man and he is a very bad man and the rest of the world knows it. There will never be a solution to the middle east problem without Palestinian statehood with a capitol in Jerusalem, free of Jewish settlements and of Israeli control over basic elements of life such as water and electricity, and the return of refugees. It simply will not happen and the suicide bombings will continue and frankly I cannot blame them for it - as horrible as that sounds. This is not anti-semitic. It is anti-Israeli if you will. I have plenty of close Jewish friends whom I love and care about but if you take any religion and use it as a basis for statehood you take on special responsibilities which Israel chooses to ignore out of fear and, yes, arrogance. I am not alone in this thinking, even among some Israelis. God bless the poor people who died just downtown from me - and their families. It is a horror that I don't think I have yet totally come to grips with. Yet let us not trade evil for evil as one speaker said at the National Cathedral the other day.

Greg Smith
new york, new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching your report, I am glad to see that we still have some responsible in-depth reporting. MSNBC reports that bin Laden wants nothing except to destroy America. They make him sound like a psychotic religious zealot. From your report, I can see that he does want something specific. He has wanted us to leave Saudi Arabia. Didn't we learn our lesson when the Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran and took American hostages?

Can you do a story on the living conditions, lifestyles, culture, and religious beliefs of the people in Afghanistan and some of the other middle eastern countries? I think our biggest problem that interferes with foreign policy is our ethnocentrism.

Of course I am most angry at the enemy who was responsible for the horrific action, but I am also angry at our American government for letting us down by ignoring the problems that led up to it. I am angry at President Bush, former President Clinton, and especially former President Bush. It seems that Desert Storm had a big part in leading up to this.

We all should have taken the problems more seriously and made our Presidents follow a more sane and sensible foreign policy. Unlike the people who live in Afghanistan and Iraq, we do live in a democracy.

I think that we need to investigate the failures in our intelligence communities as well. If we don't learn what went wrong, how can we fix the problems?

I am not trying to point fingers. None of us should allow guilt to overcome us. I doubt whether any one person could have prevented this. But all of us together might have.

It's just that we all have to look at ourselves and accept some responsibility for our actions. As my mother used to say when I argued with my sister, "it takes two". While one side in any conflict may be more to blame, the other side is rarely completely innocent.

Another way to explain what I am trying to say is that every word or action in the world has far ranging effects that can cause results that ripple from person to person or place to place.

I am hoping that we learn from the past.

Nancy Shaw
brooklyn, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

I) USA needs to change its foreign policy that was adopted at post WWII to use Arabian oil as the soul source of energy and start using there own resources. And its a wise thing to do especially in the mist of a complete breakdown of Soviet Union as another super power.

II) USA must boldly take the lead in the Middle East and pressure Israel to take the concrete steps necessary to provide justice for the Palestinian people.

III) Stop supporting corrupted government throughout the Arabian nations who are responsible for killing their own people and destroying democratic movement.

- "Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!" -Albert Einstein (1879-1955) -

Muhammad Habib
dhaka, bangladesh


Dear FRONTLINE,

I just read the interview with Osama Bin Laden....Wow. I am overwhelmed. The killing of innocent people is uncalled for. As an American, I believe that everyone (worldwide) has the right to their Freedom of Religion. But to no means killing in the name of it. What is happening around the world is unseen to many people. The Media is powerful. What and who we to believe is in essence based on what choices we make.

After this past week, I disagree, that The United States of America should play role of "World Police Officer". We have to defend this great nation first. Sure there needs to be resolve but let's first get our heads on straight. Meaning, stop spending money on defending the world and start spending money on intelligence and servallance of know terrorist groups who's goal is to kill american people. Spend money on the defending our soil and the lives that keep this great nation booming. The Taliban has surely stated that there will be a retaliation against America when we wipe out all Terrorists including Osama bin Laden. We need to prepare this nation for WAR because everyone will play a specific role no matter how small it may seem. there is some much that has changed and more is to come. If we don't change as individuals how are we to take on the challenges that are to come.

Cory Trento
san diego, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

We, as a nation, have been lulled into complacency. It is time to get back to the roots of what makes this country great. When it comes to defending the United States of America, we must realize and accept the fact that human lives will be lost. Do you think the terrorists cared whether there were women and children aboard the doomed flights or in the buildings? The God I believe in does not want me to commit a suicidal act that takes my life or anyone else's.

If anyone believes that we should not strike back with military force, you are wrong. The United States is, has been, and always will be a peaceful nation. We are, however, willing to do what it takes to make this country safe. God Bless America.

michael miranda
las vegas, nv


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for providing so much information and an oasis of sanity online.

I think the best way for the US to 'fight terrorism' is to train it's own internal anti-terrorist groups, slowly inflitrate the existing networks, and take them out.

I have serious reservations about us committing troops and money without debate, without full facts, without examinng the consequences, globally and at home. And without examining who PROFITS by such events.

Of course we need to adequately respond to terrorism. But to commit American troops and money to fight a 'war' because of CIA drug dealing, money laundering, and clandestine efforts in Afganistan years ago? To commit THOUSANDS of troops? To grant the government 'War Powers'?

Why are we not ASKING how it is that a 'large, sustianed' military action is appropriate? And finally, can no one say 'No' to the United States?

seattle, wa


Dear FRONTLINE,

I am as intrested in Bin Laden as anyone else. The sooner he is brought to justice the better for the free world. But as for the war on Terrorism I would be curious to know how the United States government will react to other terrorist groups around the world who carry out carnage on a smaller scale to what has been seen over the last few days. Terrorism is very much like a growth that requires to be cut out of any civilisation.

Another point which requires some thought is that when NATO or the USA starts this conflict with Bin Laden, Afghanistan or any other country/state which helps those who committed those acts of violence, they will be fighting people who are not afraid of dying and are very hardened to fighting. They have been at war for some years and have seen off the Russian Army. Admittedly America has got better resources than the Russians, but as the unfortunate events of Vietnam and Somalia show one of your weak points is peasant armies.

I am very sorry to what has happened in the United States last week and I hope that your country will make this next conflict as short as possible but I believe that Bin Laden and his followers are not going to be an easy task. He has been in this game for some time and has evaded capture for some time.

Paul Ashley
dundee, scotland, uk


Dear FRONTLINE,

How to deal with "terrorism"?

Simple, follow the Israeli model and have universal military training for boys and girls. No problem as far as democracy is concerned. Actually would help the educational system and our economy and the domestic front of home terrorism too. It would be a change for the better over here.

ethel saltz
garland, tx


Dear FRONTLINE,

I didn't catch all of Frontline last night but I think most of it. It was fascinating and scary. PLEASE rerun the program. I want my husband to see it.

I don't understand why we stay in Saudia Arabia. I know we have the technology to run autos without oil so maybe it's time we look in that direction. Or will the oil companies finally see the light?

Laurie Richmond
portland, or


Dear FRONTLINE,

Just a thought.How hard would it be for the terrorist group to hijack a plane coming from Mexico or other Central American countries?Indeed we have tightened our security at our airports,but what about other international airlines?

Some of these countries are already corrupt,if Bin Laden has the finances that has been said he does ,what would it take to bribe other governments in Mexico,Columbia,Panama?Or to just bribe an airline official to get people on a plane or just a package?Or if drug smugglers can get drugs in our southern border,with planes,people& boats,what about explosives and terrorist?Border Patrol& Customs are already streched thin.Could they also handle Defending us from terrorist?

James Roberson
san antonio, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for the information regarding bin Laden, it provides a refreshing viewpoint amidst the mainstream reportage.

While the mainstream media dwell on the casualties, errors in airline security, intelligence failures and updates on investigation, it seems few others pay attention to the root of the problem: why do they harbor such resentment towards US? The US acting hastily would be like a patient frantically ingesting medicine without knowing the cause of the disease. A wrong move on the part of the US would fuel the fatal fanaticism that has basis around the world.

J. Mei
new york city, new york

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