Bin Laden’s Fatal Mistake: Counting on Vietnam-Style Protests in US After 9/11

Bin Laden's Fatal Mistake: Counting on Vietnam-Style Protests in US After 9/11 Bin Laden's Fatal Mistake: Counting on Vietnam-Style Protests in US After 9/11 Osama bin Laden (Getty Images)

By John Gizzi | Sunday, 12 September 2021 10:30 PM

Osama Bin Laden envisioned a strike on U.S. soil 15 years before it finally came on 9/11, but he never counted on the American people fighting back and the resulting U.S.-led “war on terror” that would eventually kill the master terrorist himself a decade later.

That's what was found in the more than 470,000 digital files of Bin Laden discovered in his Attobad (Pakistan) hideout after he was executed in 2011 and declassified by the CIA in November 2017.

“The documents provide an unparalleled glimpse into bin Laden’s mind and offer a portrait of the U.S. ‘war on terror’ as it is seen through the eyes of its chief target,” wrote Nelly LaHoud, Senior Fellow in the International Security Program at New America, in the September/0ctober 2021 edition of Foreign Affairs.

LaHoud, who has pored through 96,000 of those files over the past three years, noted that Bin Laden had conceived of a jihadi strike “inside America” as far back as 1986.

The suffering of the Palestinians was “the reason we started our jihad,” he wrote to associates.

But, as LaHoud pointed out, “the Palestinians mostly served as a convenient stand-in for Muslims all over the world, whom Bin Laden portrayed as the collective victims of foreign occupation and oppression.”

Bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist network put his words into action in 1998 with bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 and wounded more than 4,000.

Two years later, Al Qaeda sent out an explosive-laden boat that rammed the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and killed 17 U.S. Navy personnel.

But Bin Laden miscalculated badly when he ordered the 9/11 attack on U.S. soil. His communications with family and associates show he never anticipated the U.S. going to war against his terrorist network and eventually hunting him down.

Bin Laden, in fact, “predicted that in the wake of the attack, the American people would take to the streets, replicating the protests against the Vietnam War and calling on their government to withdraw from Muslim-majority countries,” wrote LaHoud.

Americans instead reacted in a manner that was the polar opposite of the anti-Vietnam movement. They rallied to President George W. Bush and the war on terror. Within two months, a U.S.-led coalition deposed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, drove Bin-Laden into exile, and had much of al-Qaeda on the run.

She blames this severe case of bad judgment on bin Laden’s own sense of history: “He was well-versed in Islamic history, particularly the 7th Century military campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad, he had only a perfunctory understanding of modern international relations.”

As a result, LaHoud concludes, “Bin Laden did change the world — just not in the ways that he wanted.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.