A puzzling new poem, reportedly written by Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9-11, is here presented to the world for the first time in an edited translation. The reader is asked to decide whether the poem, prophesying Armageddon and the coming destruction of America, is an authentic bin Laden poem or an imitation.
On May 16, 2007, on my twenty-ninth birthday, a beautifully written manuscript in calligraphic script fell into my hands in India. This was simply a series of sentences separated by diagonal strokes (/) which purported to be a literal, word-for-word paraphrase in English of an extended poem written in Arabic by Osama bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of 9-11.
Bits had been added to the manuscript (in the broad margins) over the intervening years. These served as commentaries and clarifications. The poem was divided into several parts, each headed by a symbol which I took to be a letter of the Arabic alphabet.
The scary title of the manuscript: DEATH TO AMERICA.
I was given to understand that various versions of this poem, both in Arabic and Urdu, had begun to circulate in late 2001 in the tea houses of Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore. One such version of the poem had been obtained by my Sanskrit tutor, Bengali poet Ananda Kumar Bannerji, while vacationing with his family in Srinagar, Kashmir. He handed me the manuscript in Pondicherry, South India, at the Sri Aurobindo ashram at which both of us happened to be staying at the time. He asked me what I thought of the poem.
I was in no position to judge the “authenticity” of the mishmash of ravings that confronted me; nor did I attempt to do so at that stage.
Being a poet-translator myself, I decided on an impulse—and purely as a literary exercise—to translate into rhymed English verse the somewhat disconnected scraps that had come my way. It seemed to me that this fascinating material, which was essentially a rant of rage against Western civilization in general and America in particular, would provide a useful clue to Americans who keep asking, “Why do they hate us?”
The intelligent reader may be wondering at this point if his leg is being pulled. Did Osama bin Laden actually write this hysterical diatribe? Is there the slightest evidence that such a poem ever existed in the original Arabic? There are certainly no traces of such a maledictory poem in existence right now, either in Arabic or Urdu or in any other language, as far as I know. Bin Laden was of course a skilled poet, and many of his poems have been translated into English, but did he write this one?
My own view is that it is not altogether certain that bin Laden is the author of this particular poem, though the possibility cannot be discounted. He may have written it originally in the wake of 9-11 and added bits to it over the years, e.g., the references to the Iraq war and the Abu Ghraib scandal which surfaced in early 2004. To a large extent, it would depend on whether bin Laden was the evil genius behind 9-11. If he was, this would obviously increase the chances that he had written the poem—for in the poem he gloats over America’s humiliation on September 11, 2001, and predicts more 9-11’s to come.
Nowhere in the poem, however, does bin Laden accept personal responsibility for 9-11. He is pleased that the act was done, but so were thousands of other people throughout the world who celebrated the event with champagne parties and dancing in the streets—as Tariq Ali revealed in the introduction of his excellent book The Clash of Fundamentalisms.
* * *
What finally persuaded me to offer this poem up for publication, given that it has been gathering dust on my shelves for the last three years? I guess the time is right. It would be a shame to let the poem lie around unread. The material has curiosity value. It provides, moreover, an insight into the terrorist mind. It is certainly a shocking poem, though its shock potential would have been far greater if there had been proof that Osama bin Laden had actually written it. There is no such proof.
Indeed, there is no proof that Osama bin Laden orchestrated 9-11 at all.
The only “proof” that Al Qaeda was behind 9-11 is that the American government and the notoriously unreliable and mendacious mainstream mass media say so. Beyond this authoritative assertion of fact—an assertion that becomes increasingly unconvincing by the day—there is no proof whatever for the claim that bin Laden orchestrated 9-11. There is certainly no scientific evidence for such a claim.
Indeed, contrary to government claims, newly released evidence points to the theory that the World Trade Center twin towers must have been brought down by the prior placement of nanothermite and other powerful explosives within the buildings. (See here).
* * *
Here are some relevant facts the reader would do well to consider before reading the poem.
Though many taped messages have purportedly been issued by Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, not one of them after September 9, 2002 has been authenticated as genuine by independent experts such as the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence, based in Martigny, Switzerland. (Institut Dalle Molle d’Intelligence Artificielle Perceptive, now the IDIAP Research Institute).
The only “experts” to validate the later bin Laden tapes have been those same intelligence agencies whose reputation for deceiving the public is now legendary.
Thus genuine videotapes delivered to al-Jazeera TV in late 2001, featuring an emaciated and white-bearded bin Laden disclaiming responsibility for 9-11, offer a bizarre contrast to the obviously fake bin Laden video tape of November 9, 2001—a tape conveniently “discovered” by American soldiers in an abandoned house in Jalalabad. Here a suspiciously plump and black-bearded Osama is suddenly found fessing up to 9-11.
Bin Laden was not a man given to lying. On September 17, 2001 he issued a message to al-Jazeera, disclaiming all responsibility for 9-11.
I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation.” (17 Sept. 2001)….“I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks… (28 Sept. 2001). See here and here.
Bin Laden is now almost certainly dead. An obituary notice announcing his funeral appeared in al-Wafd (an Egyptian newspaper) on December 26, 2001. It became perfectly safe after this date to issue bogus bin Laden tapes ad nauseam, threatening the west with fire and brimstone, given that the real Osama was no longer around to deny the authenticity of the same tapes.
All these fake tapes and phoney bin Laden lookalikes are surely signs of acute desperation. The perpetrators of Abu Ghraib have not only lost the moral high ground—they have lost the war on terror.
* * *
Here now is the 4-part poem purportedly penned by Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9-11. I have translated the English paraphrase I received into 8-line rhyming stanzas based on a strict A-B-C-D-B-A-C-D rhyming scheme. This was because the original Arabic, according to my friend Mr Bannerjee, was couched in the complicated rhyming prose found in the Qur’an.
The reader is asked to make allowances for the apocalyptic language. This is all part of the original. Toning it down so as to make it more palatable to Western tastes would be self-defeating. Decide for yourself if this is a genuine Osama bin Laden poem, penned by the Master Terrorist himself, or if it is an imitation
One final point: I would like to assure the reader that, in submitting this poem for publication, I am not myself the perpetrator of a puerile literary hoax. I did not write this poem myself, nor am I receiving either fame or fortune from its publication. I have merely translated, in good faith, a prose paraphrase of someone else’s rendition of an extended poem in Arabic reportedly written by Osama bin Laden in late 2001 and added to subsequently by bin Laden himself or other scribe(s). If there are any Western resonances in the poem (e.g., “shooting fish in a barrel”), this is because my version is presented through the prism of my own personality and bears the stamp of my style and character. This is not only a translation, remember, it is a translation of a translation. Many of the ideas sketched in the poem, particularly in Part 3 which is about Israel, are clearly out of date and erroneous. The idea that Israel is an American colony is one such wrong idea.
Here now is the poem: an extended malediction of America and a prophecy of its impending doom.
Death to America
Do what you can, and so shall we. Just wait!—we too are waiting.
— Qur’an XI. 121-22
1. The Great Satan
The inhabitants of the earth
With the wine of your fornications!
You have given birth
To terror, hatred, hysteria!
Your people are sunk
Darkness has come upon you.
You think you live in the light.
Your eyes have been blinded.
Your people stumble in darkness.
Greed has undone you.
Pride and lust are your blight.
God’s sees, and has minded!
Miserable crew, forever whining
About 9/11 and your precious virtue!—
As if you alone had known pain
And the world were under obligation
To kiss your feet and court you
And approach you with shining
Eyes—you blot, you stain!—
You object of utter detestation!
Country of murderers and thieves,
Bloodsuckers of the Third World,
Devils with smiling faces—
My curse on you for ever!
May your land be reduced to a wild
Desolation, may all that lives
In your tainted spaces
Never know peace—or joy—ever!
2. The Coming Doom
Where your people once lived
Secure in the illusion
Of their superior virtue,
There the bison will roam
Again, the frog spread confusion
Over the marshes, the vulture thrive.
There’ll be none to hurt you
There, buried beneath your slime!
Another people will possess your land
Taking your place, a race
From beyond the sea, superior
In virtue: one that practises
What you only preach, showing a face
Of kindness and compassion and
Care for mankind: a race far dearer
To God, and less prone to vices.
You brew trouble, you foment wars
So you can peddle your arms.
From the mouths of children so
That your hatchers of harm
Can trinket their whores
And live the American dream.
That way lies hell, and there you go!
You defile all the regions you rule,
You scatter your bases and rob
The lands you begrime and bescum!
Who helps to kill children for kicks
In Palestine? May Abu Ghraib
Gnaw away at your inmost soul
Like a maggot! The time will come
When your backs will be beaten by sticks!
3. The Holy Land
Israel!—an American colony
Disguised as a Jewish state,
Deliberately planted to destabilize
And drive entire races demented!
A country whose main product is hate,
Whose raison d-être is to make misery,
Where peace would be the only surprise!
A country not owned, but rented
From the Arabs temporarily, by force—
Where the rent is always in arrears.
America, the day will come
When the rent will have to be paid
With compound interest. You’ll reap in tears
What you sowed in joy! At the end of this course,
You will pick up the tab and become
Chief debtor for the monster you made!
See, the betrayer of the Jews—
The Jews themselves! Or rather
Those who call themselves Jews, the pseudo
Ashkenazi Jews with their blue eyes
And blonde hair! Could any race be further
From the true Semitic Jews whose
Blended blood has been poured into
Other bloods under alien skies?
These are the ones, the hocus-pocus
Imposter Jews, who now blow the trumpet
For Zion, stigmatizing
Their critics, and heaping abuse
On those who object to the rank armpit
Of Israel!—Oh, how we loathe these bogus
European Jews whose devisings
Were all learnt from Hitler’s hellcrews.
4. The Day of Reckoning
September 11? That was just
The beginning! Prepare for more
Of the same!—for further contingents
Of “cowards” hell bent on suicide
Flying in to your hated shores!
How can you win? You’ve already lost!
You’ve lost respect: the moral argument.
You are universally despised!
Invincible America, aren’t you glad
You’re so strong? What “courage” it must take
To skulk behind the clouds and rain
Cluster bombs on the weak, without peril
To your own skins! Yes, it’s a piece of cake
Killing women and children in Baghdad!
Congratulations, America! You win
First prize for shooting fish in a barrel!
Hear now my message: Depart
From our lands: you have your own.
Don’t steal our oil! It lies under
Our sands, and there it shall stay!
Get out of our sight! Leave us alone!
Practise the torturer’s art
On your own people! I wonder
What Christ would think of Camp X-ray?
Nation of impudent parasites!—
Supervirus of the world!—
So you think you hold all the aces?
Hear now my curse: May all your bones
Be broken, your ashes all whirled
To the wind! May you who delight
In sowing tares in all places
REAP, REAP, REAP WHAT YOU HAVE SOWN!
* * *
Whatever the authenticity of the poem, what comes through is an almost visceral hatred of the West for its hypocrisy in wittering on about human rights while carrying on a war against Islam; for its addiction to personal vices—greed, pride, and lust; for its history of Third World exploitation; for its sponsorship of Israel, “a country whose main product is hate.” The poem is a call for jihad against the West and America in particular and it predicts victory for Islam-by “a race superior in virtue: one that practises what you only preach.”
Questions of equal importance are these, though this is obviously not the time or place to address them: Is bin Laden a paper tiger? Is Al Qaeda a myth? Are Islamic “terrorists” a figment of the neoconservative imagination? Was 9-11 orchestrated as an excuse to wage war on the Muslim world and plunder its resources? It is now a well-entrenched “conspiracy theory” that 9-11 was a false flag attack that gave the neoconservatives what they had long been looking for: a pretext to attack Iraq and Afghanistan and launch a crusade against the Islamic world. In the words of Professor David Ray Griffin, 9-11 was “the New Pearl Harbor.”
We need to ask ourselves how many Muslims, in revenge for 9-11, have now been killed and maimed by America—”supervirus of the world” and “universally despised”—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the West Bank and Gaza. How many more innocents are expected to die “like fish in a barrel” in Iran, Syria and Lebanon in future wars orchestrated by neoconservatives in Washington (many of them with Israeli passports) for the sole benefit of Israel?
One would think that Al Qaeda, having pulled off 9-11 with such ease, would get its act together and assassinate every single neoconservative in America. To quote Paul Craig Roberts writing in VDARE, a highly respected political columnist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury:
If Muslims were capable of pulling off 9/11, they are certainly capable of assassinating Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Libby, Condi Rice, Kristol, Bolton, Goldberg, and scores of others during the same hour of the same day..The argument is not believable that a government that was incapable of preventing 9/11 is so all-knowing that it can prevent assassination of unprotected neocons..Try to imagine the propaganda value of terrorists wiping out the neoconservatives in one fell swoop, followed by an announcement that every member of the federal government down to the lowest GS, every member of the House and Senate, and every governor was next in line to be bumped off.
Makes you think, doesn’t it? Bin Laden must be smiling in his grave.