Osama bin Laden’s collection of books -- seized by U.S. forces in 2011 and made public this week -- has revealed a lot about how al Qaeda works. While revealing the group’s heavily bureaucratized system and resolute use of religion in politics, it also shows how keen the militant leader was to understand America.
Several books in bin Laden’s collection are about U.S. politics. These include "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth About Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High Finance Fraudsters," by Greg Palast (Pluto Press, 2002).
Palast said he was embarrassed to learn that bin Laden used to read his writing as well as Noam Chomsky’s. He considered it “embarrassing” because it proved that the militant leader was more well-read than former U.S. President George W. Bush.
The freelance journalist said he was an investigative reporter -- a profession that he claims has been banned in the United States since the 9/11 attacks of 2001. That was why he had to go to London and pursue his career in exile. Palast said that bin Laden would have still been alive if he had read more of Palast’s writings.
“Osama would have learned that, after the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, he could have incorporated Al Qaeda LLC and used his millions to unleash a terrifying barrage of cash through QaedaPAC,” Politico quotes him as saying. The journalist, who works for the BBC and the Guardian, wonders why the militant leader wanted to blow up the U.S. government when conditions existed that would have let him “buy” it instead.
Juan Zarate, a CBS News senior national security analyst, said that the “enemy” tried to know the U.S. perspective all the time. He said that bin Laden had considered himself to be a strategic leader who was leading an extremist battle against Western powers like the United States. That was the reason why the al Qaeda leader wanted to understand the strength and the vulnerabilities of the U.S. system, Zarate said.
Christine Fair co-authored "Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance," which was among the books found at bin Laden’s residence in Pakistan. She said it was “ironic” for bin Laden to have read the book, as it was about Pakistan’s incompetence in counter-terrorism.