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“After Bin Laden” by Abdel Bari Atwan Critical Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2019

“After Bin Laden” written by Abdel Bari Atwan, talks about the past aspirations, present and future actions of Al-Qaida and everyone involved in the “holy war”. The author is the editor for a newspaper based in London which is called “Al Quds Al Arabi”.

Not only does Abdel have extensive background and experience with the Arab world, he has grown up in the atmosphere, his nationality is an extensive addition to his understanding of the world that is hardly understood by the Western civilization.

But in addition, he was the one who had a personal interview with Osama Bin Laden and thus, he has direct knowledge of the Al-Qaida leader. It is possible to assume that he has all the necessary resources and information to be considered a credible source, in discussing the events and concepts that revolve around Al-Qaida and their goals.

The overall argument of the book “After Bin Laden” is that the organization has greatly spread, internationally and that the death of Osama Bin Laden will not be the end of the fight. As the author recalls of his interview with Al-Qaida leader, it was obvious that the network of forces is very extensive and there are people who fight for the same cause in almost all countries of the world.

The movement has increased its strength because now, the believers are even more angered by the way United States carries out their policies and reach for power. It is one of their head goals, to abolish the influence that America has had over the world and set a different pace to the global matters.

In the last decade, it has been possible to see that the military actions of the United States have caused great devastation, not only to the countries they wage wars on but also domestically. The economy has been on a steady downfall with an ever increasing deficit and economic instability.

It is an ironic truth that these sorts of results were expected by Al-Qaida. As Abdel Bari Atwan states, stage 5 of the Al-Qaida plan of “attack” on the Western world is to weaken the economy, which will be “stretched beyond its limits and capabilities. The US military budget is crashed into bankruptcy and economic meltdown ensues” (Atwan, 2013).

It is an alarming fact that the leaders of Al-Qaida were able to foresee this sort of thing and have reached their goal without having massing weapon systems or invasion techniques. While United States, having all the intelligence and resources at hand, were not able to predict the heavy effects America has sustained from the wars.

Another major theme that was outset by the terrorist organization is to lure the Americans into their own lands and to fight them on their home ground. This is a very respectable strategy because the advantages are numerous. This is an intelligent plan because the Al-Qaida does not have to spend resources on transportation, time and effort on the distanced movements.

The author clearly demonstrates that there is a lot of thinking and planning that goes into the plans of Al-Qaida and the United States always seem to underestimate the enemy they are fighting. It turns out that the plan laid out by Osama Bin Laden and his leaders is being precisely followed by America’s leaders and this is an even more worrying fact.

The book presents statistics of Al-Qaida men who have been captured or killed but this in no way stops or slows down the forces of the rest of the movement. A clear link can be made to a strategic and military report of the book. It specifically outlines the past plans of Al-Qaida and the future goals.

The blunt language and open explanations are easy to comprehend and this adds to the effect. It is made out as if terrorist groups are not hiding their activities, quite the opposite, they want the world to realize their potential and grow afraid of the consequences that all those who oppose Al-Qaida will bring suffering onto themselves.

A concerning motif of the book is that is serves as a clear illustration and a warning to the world that no matter what people do, Al-Qaida will take over and the “Believers” will take power into their own hands. It could be said that the book has a connection to a form of propaganda that is meant to warn the world of the strength of terrorist organizations.

The growth of Anti-Western movement has greatly increased after the actions taken by the United States. The book explains that after the assassination of some leaders and Osama Bin Laden, the organization became even stronger and now, it has even more strength, as to avenge the killing of their “humble leader”.

The union of countries that have joined in the fight against terror are given a direct example that now there are more people wanting to join the Al-Qaida group. Even individual cases are becoming an occurrence, where even innocent people get killed or injured. The fact that security has increased, all over the world, does not mean that there is any stopping of the terrorist organizations.

When presenting the evidence Abdel Bari Atwan is being very clear and exact. He gives direct references to events and situations that took place and were predicted by the organizers. He writes in a well developed language that does not leave any doubts as to what is being said. The book has an impressive strength in being very truthful and straightforward.

There is no option to suppose that something is being hidden, quite the opposite, it is very open and comprehendible. This can be seen as its weakness at the same time. The reader might wonder that the book was written in such style and detail for a purpose, which is to instill fear into everyone who reads it or knows about the situation.

The mental or psychological “war” is an old strategy and it is used to scare the enemy even before any open violent conflict breaks out. Even when Abdel Bari Atwan describes his experience in the cave and the time he has spent with Osama Bin Laden, his honesty and forward manner is striking (Atwan, 2013).

He wants the readers to sympathize with Bin Laden, understand his reasons and respect them, as if being of higher order and morals. It is understandable that all wars have a seeming great purpose to free those who are suffering from the regime and the forceful control of those in power but this is a much skewed view. It is meant to turn things around and twist the facts into a more favorable light.

The book is very educative and would be a good study for sociologists and psychologists. The people who are interested and study Eastern civilization might find a lot of useful references to the beliefs and ways of life of the East.

Any war or military action is unwanted by the greater public and civilians. If the purpose of these wars is peace and freedom for people, if they make out themselves to be kind and understanding, then why not find other ways to convince the leaders of their wants and needs? History has seen many examples when people have reached an understanding by peaceful negotiations and in some cases, protests.

The unfortunate part of the issue is that United States has also joined in the provoked war that terrorist organizations have put in place. Historically, America has been the land of freedom and people’s rights. It has seen the revolution of African Americans and women, who have fought for their rights and have received them.

This should serve as an example of the most wanted resolution. Of course it took a long time but the movement and innocent people were not affected globally. Also, the social life, tradition and beliefs of the Eastern world are very unique and it is very hard to change the order that has been ruling the land for some many centuries.

Overall, the book sets a distinct atmosphere that is explanatory and warning at the same time. It gives the background reasons, as to why the situation has presented itself and it outlines the plans of how it will be resolved. In some ways it is meant to educate people on what is going on in the world and in others, gives ideas as to how the issue might be resolved.


Atwan, A. (2013). After Bin Laden. New York, United States: New Press.

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