Monday, May 26, 2008

The Real Winners

Here's something that, one way or another, will infuriate you.

Osama’s siblings repudiated his acts as early as 1994, but they left a door open to reconciliation. After 9/11, they seemed more interested in retaining legal counsel than in sharing information. Coll found allegations in a California custody case that there were scenes of celebration at the bin Laden compound in Saudi Arabia after the attacks. Coll does not believe any of the bin Ladens permitted to leave the United States on a chartered flight eight days after 9/11 had connections to radical Islam. He notes, though, that one who had possible connections — Omar Awadh — may not have been interrogated by the F.B.I.

Sept. 11 changed the family in two big ways: it made one of the sons into the hero of the Arab world, and it drove up the price of oil, igniting a construction boom. With oil topping $100 a barrel, the bin Laden group is thriving. It has 35,000 employees and expects to double in size in the coming decade. It is building airports in Egypt and elsewhere. In Mecca and Medina, it oversees vast real estate projects. “To please American audiences, the bin Ladens would have to seek forgiveness and denounce Osama,” Coll writes. “To please audiences in the Arab world, where the family’s financial interests predominantly lay, such a posture would be seen as craven.”

Seven years’ distance reveals a brutal reality. For both his family and his country [Saudi Arabia] Osama bin Laden’s attacks turned a profit.

You don't have to buy all the author's arguments and surmises, or even any of them, to step back and look at the world and see his "brutal" conclusion is right on.