Osama Bin Laden Wanted to Recruit African-Americans

Osama Bin Laden Wanted to Recruit African-Americans

New information from the CIA says Bin Laden wanted to get more “oppressed people” into Al Qaeda. Here’s why that probably wouldn’t have worked.

Published May 12, 2011

Now that Osama bin Laden is dead and gone, the CIA, which led the attack on his Pakistani compound two weeks ago, has had time to give a thorough look into his files. The chance to ransack Bin Laden’s private computers and papers is one of the largest national security scores in years, and they give an amazing new perspective on the world’s former most wanted man. The new information has also added a surprise twist to the whole Bin Laden story: Osama was set on actively pursuing African-American jihadists for the coming years.


According to a new Washington Post story about the lengthy journal entries Bin Laden wrote both by hand and via computer, “[Bin Laden] exhorted followers to explore ways to recruit non-Muslims ‘who are oppressed in the United States,' in the words of one official — particularly African-Americans and Latinos…”


It’s not so insane to imagine some Blacks being swooned into joining Bin Laden’s cause. In a 1986 interview with Reason magazine, former Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver admitted to attacking police officers during his tenure as a Panther. The idea of wanting to beat back the American government is not a foreign one to the African-American community.


However, in the age of Obama, Bin Laden’s goal of preying on Black people weary of America’s oppression seems to be misguided at best, wholly misplaced at worst. No doubt there are probably some Black Americans who could be convinced to become terrorists, just as there are white Americans who have been convinced to become terrorists (remember John Walker Lindh). But it’s more likely that you’ll find African-Americans who are excited about the possibility of changing America not with bombs, but with political might. The goal now is to work from the inside, not the outside, and more Black Americans than ever believe that.


In 2008, the year Obama won the presidency, a historic number of African-American voters turned out to show their support. What’s more, unlike so many other times in history, their votes actually worked. In the years since, though Obama hasn’t been a perfect president, he has actively worked to improve the lives of minorities throughout the country, so it’s likely Blacks will return to the polls for him in 2012.


Like it or not, the new path toward glory for most African-Americans isn’t through militant force, but through political engagement. Black kids don’t want guns, they want books, and that’s a great thing.


(Photo: HO /Landov)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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