Osama Bin Laden as Che Guevara, and Other Dumb Narratives

A housekeeping note: I'm on a leave of absence through April writing a book, but I'll be keeping my toes in by writing on the blog. Given that my main priority right now is cranking out chapters, I'm going to be late on any post that requires more than a few minutes of writing. The column I look at below, for example, was published last Monday.


Anne Applebaum writes for the Washington Post, a reflexive institutional supporter of Pax Americana. As you might imagine, WaPo opinion columnists don’t waste a lot of ink considering the concept of “blow-back.

Perhaps that's why Applebaum wraps herself into a rambling and unnecessarily complicated sociological analysis of what motivated Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the educated physician who blew himself up at a CIA base in Afghanistan --and other members of what she calls a “Jihadi elite” -- to commit acts of lethal terror.

Ultimately, she omits the most relevant facts of the case on which she’s commenting, and ends up with a rather muddled picture as a result.

As we catch up with the column, she’s discussing Balawi’s widow, Defne Bayrak:

Bayrak is a shining example of what might be called the international jihadi elite: She is educated, eloquent, has connections across the Islamic world -- Istanbul, Amman, Peshawar -- yet is not exactly part of the global economy. She shares these traits not only with her husband -- a doctor who was the son of middle-class, English-speaking Jordanians -- but also with others featured recently in the news. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for example, grew up in a wealthy Nigerian family and studied at University College London before trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day.

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