16 Sep 2022


The Life and Death of Osama Bin Laden

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Academic level: College

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Osama Bin Laden was arguably the most powerful leader of a terror group in history. He successfully led one of the leading global terror groups in the world. One of the factors that led to the success of Bin Laden is his ability to communicate to members of his terror group ( Scheuer, 2011) . The effectiveness of his terror activities largely depended on the ability of the leader to communicate the plans of the organization to the rest the team. Given the diverse locations of members of Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden had to formulate effective strategies that would help him effectively reach members of his terror groups without leaving a hint of his whereabouts. However, the happenings of 9/11 that led to massive attack and killing served to embolden him to seek more profound ways of communications that would be able to reach. His main aim was to radicalize most Muslims as he gave the impression that he was fighting the violation of the Muslim rights. The following study analyzes his communication skills for the time preceding 9/11 until his death. The focus is to establish how the events of 9/11 changed Osama’s style of communication until his death. 

Both before the happenings of 9/11 and after that period till his death. Bin Laden extensively used emails to communicate to the world as well as members of his terror groups. The need to advance his Jihad ideology required a strong ability to communicate with the people and sell his idea to potential terrorists in both instances. The ability to use cyberspace without leaving traces that could lead to his capture was a major success for the time he was the leader of Al-Qaida. He used the portable flash disk in carrying his message to another location where his courier could copy onto one email and send from that location. Similarly, he could access any incoming email from a portable media in a different location. The courier would then copy the email to a portable media and take it to where he could read it offline. This left no trace of his presence in the cyberspace in both times ( Strawser, 2014) . 

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In this style of communication, Osama was able to coordinate the members of his gang and carry out the fiercest attaches of his time. His focus at that point was to ensure that he coordinates members of the Al-Qaida terror group in a way that was most efficient and one that could not reveal his location. Therefore, he opted to use the cyberspace in communicating without leaving a footprint of his whereabouts within the cyberspace. 

The events of 9/11 led to significant changes ion Osama’s method of communication. This successful attack served to embolden him to embrace more combative forms of communication. Moreover, many members of his terror group had been killed during this attack. Therefore, the future of the Al-Qaida terror group largely depended on his ability to recruit more members to the terror group. In view of this, the Al-Qaida leader developed public modes of communication with the aim of reaching many committed Muslims. In their messages, they sought to portray Al-Qaida as a group that fights holy wars for the interest of the Muslim faith. Moreover, he sought to portray the group as one that fights for the rights of Muslims in a world that has largely marginalized Muslims. In order to achieve this, he was forced to develop combative modes of communication that sharply contrasted his original methods of communication. 

The major contrast in communication style before and after the 9/11 events is that just before his death Osama bin laden largely used video recordings in passing his message, a technique he had not embraced before. For instance, he sent a video to media asserting the responsibility that the Al-Qaida in the attack ( Lawrence, 2011) . This was followed by other subsequent videos that were released to the various forms of media at the time in which he claimed responsibility for several attacks in America and beyond. His message in the video sought to explain how the terror group was boldly pursuing what they believed was the right of the Muslims as well as the preservation of the Islamic faith. The result of this was a massive recruitment of many Muslim followers who offered to join the terror group. 

Another important post 9/11 mode of communication that Osama embraced was the use of letters. After his discovery and subsequent deaths, several physical letters were found in his premises that indicated how he was corresponding to the different managers of his team. Perhaps this hand delivered letters were an important way in which this terror group leader avoided detection that could have been made possible through electronic communication. It is worth noting that the events of 9/11 lead US forces to mount a spirited such Osama. This could have informed his choice of such rudimentary methods of communications as a letter. 

In conclusion, Osama maintained high communication both before and after the events of 9/11. However, these were a significant change in his mode of communication after those events. The spirited search by the US force as well as the need to recruit more members motivated his change of tact. This explains why it took look time before the US intelligence could get hold of him. 


Lawrence, B. B. (2011). The late Shaikh Osama Bin Laden: A Religious Profile of al-Qaeda's Deceased Poster Child.  The Muslim World,    101 (3), 374-389.  

Scheuer, M. (2011). The Bin Laden Era.  Osama Bin Laden  162-181.  

Strawser, B. J. (2014). The Case of Osama bin Laden.  Killing bin Laden,  14-20.  

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