Ten years after September 11 forever became more than just a date on the calendar, I re-read something I wrote in 2000, when all the pain and bewilderment was still so raw. And I still want to say this to him, to the others.
To Osama bin Laden:
You have had a profound effect on humanity, Mr. bin Laden, and the world is very curious. It wants to know many things: Why? How? And mostly, how could you?
But I am curious about something else. I do not ask ‘why?’ because it is clear that your motives cannot be understood by those who value life above all else. I do not question ‘how?’ because understanding the logistics of your operation will not undo your acts. Besides, there are others in charge of researching this to attempt prevention of similar acts in the future. Nor do I ask ‘how could you?’ because what matters more is that you could, and did.
What I am curious about is the way you feel now. I ask, ‘did you achieve what you wanted?’ Your ultimate goal was not to destroy the World Trade Center and to kill innocent people, clearly. Your ultimate goal, I think, was to destroy the American spirit and all that America symbolizes, because it is contrary to your beliefs about life and living.
But, I ask you, do you truly believe that your acts can achieve that? Do you think that the freedom humanity has yearned and died for through the ages, will cease to have value because some are willing to use terror to stop it? You remind me of an angry, rejected lover, who attacks his beloved in an attempt to win her over. When has that ever worked? How can violence and aggression against infidels, unbelievers, make believers out of them? If you succeed in obliterating them from the Earth, surely you do not believe that you will have obliterated forever their beliefs, their way of life, their values.
So that is my question, Mr. bin Laden. Are you satisfied? Have you achieved your ultimate goal? Are you in good favor with your god? Because Mr. bin Laden, if all you wanted was to let the world know that you don’t agree, you managed rather well. But I think you probably wanted something more. I think you wanted very much to destroy something that today, is stronger than ever: the will to live free.
And so, in your ultimate quest, you have failed miserably.