Why is Osama Bin Laden's antisemitic letter going viral?

The letter was written after Al Qaeda's attack on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001


Osama Bin Laden's "Letter to America" where he details the justifications for 9/11 in a pages-long antisemitic screed has been going viral on social media, as users discover the text.

The 2002 letter by the former Al Qaeda leader has been widely shared on TikTok sparking a fierce debate about US backing for Israel in its current war against terrorist group Hamas.

But why is this infamous letter starting to emerge again nearly two decades on?

Discussions of the 21-year-old letter have spread on the platform this week in the context of debate over the Israel-Hamas war, with the term “Letter to America”. 

The letter has been received with surprisingly positive comments on the platform.

A search for "Letter to America" now displays a notice that says the phrase may be associated with "content that violates our guidelines."

The origin of the discussions appears to be a video posted on Tuesday by a TikTok influencer with 12 million likes.

The influencer wrote: "I need everyone to stop what they're doing right now and go read - it's literally two pages - go read 'A Letter to America'.”

"Come back here and let me know what you think. Because I feel like I'm going through like an existential crisis right now, and a lot of people are. So I just need someone else to be feeling this too."

After search traction started picking up, The Guardian removed the 21-year-old message written by the former Al-Qaeda leader from it’s website. 

Links to the original have been replaced on the Guardian website with a statement saying it had been shared "without the full context".

"This page previously displayed a document containing, in translation, the full text of Osama bin Laden's 'letter to the American people', which was reported on in the Observer on Sunday 24 November 2002," the publication said. 

"The transcript published on our website had been widely shared on social media without the full context.

“Therefore we decided to take it down and direct readers instead to the news article that originally contextualised it."

Contents of the letter:

Bin Laden's message, released a year after 9/11, outlined his objections to Western activities in Muslim nations as well as condemning the United States for its backing of Israel.

It also denounces what he described as Western "lies, immorality and debauchery" and argued that attacks against civilians and the United States were justified as a result.

An extract from the letter on his opinions on Israel reads: "Palestine, which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years.

"The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation.

"The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals.

"And of course, there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel.

"The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its price, and pay for it heavily."

After nearly 10 years as the world's most wanted man, bin Laden was tracked down and killed by US special forces at his compound in Pakistan in 2011.

Political reaction to the trend: 

The White House in a statement on X/Twitter, said "no one should ever insult the 2,977 American families still mourning loved ones by associating themselves with the vile words of Osama bin Laden."

"Particularly now, at a time of rising antisemitic violence in the world, and just after Hamas terrorists carried out the worst slaughter of the Jewish people since the Holocaust in the name of the same conspiracy theories," it added.

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