New insights were gained into Osama bin Laden’s cloistered life Wednesday after the United States government released a treasure trove of documents revealing the infamous terrorist’s reading list at his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The information, rightly dubbed “Bin Laden’s bookshelf”, assures what we already knew about bin laden, that he was a well-educated figure but also hints at some surprising revelations about the mastermind’s values.
The documents contain an Al-Qaeda job application and a surprising series of English-language books that seem better fit on top of the desk of a liberal activist professor rather than a religious extremist.
Notable titles, stored in PDF files, include “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward and “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance” by Noam Chomsky. The al-Qaeda leader also had a host of material related to 9/11 and Illuminati conspiracy theories.
Even more astonishing was bin Laden’s active concern for the planet. An undated document presumably written by bin Laden, addresses his beliefs on the devastating consequences of climate change.
"What we are experiencing today (drought growth, particularly in Africa, and flooding in other regions, which in days left behind thousands dead and millions of victims forced to be displaced in Pakistan alone) imposes a moral duty upon the good-hearted and determined among the men, to move earnestly and rapidly in rescue of their Pakistani Muslim brothers. For the calamity is considerable and beyond description, whilst requiring massive means."
As the Los Angeles Times uncomfortably reminds us, what bin Laden’s bookshelf really conveys is that while he was indeed a dangerous religious fanatic that we would never dream of sharing common ground with, unsettling as it is, we may not only be reading the same books but share "a common human core" and quite possibly similar principles for humanity, although our action plans to achieve said goals for environmental responsibility or reversing America's imperial foreign policy strategy are quite the opposite.