A 2002 essay by Osama bin Laden that says “Israel must be erased” and rails against the “Jews, who control your policies, media and economy” has gone viral on TikTok, with some users endorsing its message.
The missive by the notorious leader of Al Qaeda was written in 2002 to justify the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, and lay out the terror organization’s ultimate goals. At the time, the letter was published in full by The Guardian, though the British newspaper removed the article on Wednesday after it began to spread widely online.
On Thursday, TikTok announced that it would prohibit videos promoting the letter, according to Reuters. A compilation of the videos endorsing the letter show users saying, “Everyone should read it,” and saying the letter was “eye-opening,” “explains so much” and has led them to have an “existential crisis.” Two users posted regarding the letter that “he was right.” One wrote, “It ALL makes sense now.”
The resurfacing of the nearly 21-year-old document has come amid heated social media debate over Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza and its civilian death toll. Upon bin Laden’s killing by American forces in 2011, Hamas praised him as a “holy warrior.”
One video endorsing the letter says, “Now it’s all coming to light because of Palestine.”
The letter is largely devoted to enumerating bin Laden’s opposition to the United States’ policies, system of government and society — with a focus on U.S. military action in the Middle East and other countries. The letter also defends the murder of civilians on Sept. 11.
Large portions of the letter focus on Israel and Jews. The word “Israel” appears 19 times in the document, while “Jews” are mentioned an additional 10 times. The first question bin Laden posed in the document is “Why are we fighting and opposing you?” And one of the first answers is, “You attacked us in Palestine.”
Elaborating on that allegation, the Saudi-born bin Laden wrote, “The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel. The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased.”
The al Qaeda leader also said the idea “that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, as it was promised to them in the Torah,” is “one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history.” He wrote that Muslims superseded Jews as the inheritors of the Torah, and that the land therefore belongs to them. (Supersessionism — or the idea that the Jewish covenant with God has been replaced by a truer religion — is most commonly associated with Christianity and is widely considered antisemitic.)
Later, he writes that “governments have surrendered to the Jews.”
The letter includes a number of other attacks on Jews, both related to Israel and not. It also claims that homosexuality is “immoral.”
In the second half of the letter, which describes bin Laden’s vision of a world governed by Islamic law and condemns American society, he trumpets age-old antisemitic stereotypes about Jewish money and power.
At one point, he wrote, “the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense.”
Soon afterward, he wrote, “Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts. Behind them stand the Jews, who control your policies, media and economy.”