Monday, September 15, 2008


Democracy Now! program today on bin Laden family

by Larry Geller

Tune in to Democracy Now! for Steve Coll on "The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century", an hour-long interview with the author of this new book.

If you see this in time and you’re on Oahu, try channel 54 7-8 a.m., or tonight channel 56 10 p.m., or anytime on the web for audio, video or a transcript.

From the web promo:

Nearly seven years after the first bombs were dropped on Afghanistan, the US war there continues to escalate. President Bush recently announced he will send an additional 5,000 troops to Afghanistan. Both major party presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, have pledged to send more troops if elected. The United States launched the war in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks. The stated purpose of the invasion was to capture Osama bin Laden and remove the Taliban regime, which had provided support and safe harbor to al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is known worldwide as the founder of al-Qaeda and the mastermind of 9/11. But much less is known of his sprawling Saudi family and their multiple ties to the United States. A new book by award-winning journalist Steve Coll details the complicated family history of Osama bin Laden, one of 54 children born to Mohammed bin Laden. [includes rush transcript]

There is a lot that was new to me in this program. For example:

The bin Ladens, by the 1980s, were sort of the Halliburton of Saudi Arabia. They had a tradition of doing no-bid contracts on sensitive defense and intelligence projects. In the ’60s, they had built the entire kingdom’s defense infrastructure along the Yemen border during a war with Egypt, and in Afghanistan they were doing the same thing. There was a lot of government support for what he was doing.

There is some discussion of bin Laden’s relationship with the Taliban. Just a snippet:

And, of course, the Taliban—one difference between Osama and the Taliban was that Osama has always been a student of technology and sort of a gadget hound in his own way, and he’s used technology to be very effective in his violent operations. He used satellite phones in a very innovative way to create a lot of his attacks. And the Taliban, on the other hand, adhering to a different school of Islamic theology, believe that all of this technology is forbidden, because it wasn’t present during the life of Mohammed, and so, therefore, it shouldn’t be used.

I haven’t finished listening to the podcast yet, but thought I’d post this just in case you see it in time to tune in this morning.

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