Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tired Old Terrorists

This week brings intimations of mortality from Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal, two aging terrorists who achieved reknown by cutting short the lives of countless unknown others in pursuit of their ideology.

The mastermind of 9/11 is reduced to making an audiotape to hitchhike on the "accomplishment" of the 23-year-old loser who couldn't find his way to the lavatory to blow up an airliner, claiming that the work of "the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes” of 9/11.

Without claiming credit for the botched effort, bin Laden seems to be, according to a terrorism expert, attempting to franchise the Al Qaeda name, like McDonald’s, "to create mutual benefits. The benefit for bin Laden is he gets to associate himself with this attack. The benefit for the regional group is it gets to use the Al Qaeda name for fund-raising and recruiting.”

In doing so, bin Laden is putting himself in the position of those retired minor celebrities who appear in TV commercials to promote iffy products with their waning fame.

What may lie ahead for Osama, if he doesn't end his days in the cave equivalent of a nursing home, is suggested by the fate of Carlos the Jackal, now in a French prison after terrorizing Europe and the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s.

Carlos is suing makers of a documentary about him to get in on the final cut of the film in order to protect "his intellectual property rights to his name and biographical image."

As heedless as they have been about the value of human life, neither Osama nor Carlos is immune to the inroads of aging and the seductions of immortality, a sad commentary on the pathetic few who can create so much pain and fear for so many in the modern world.

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