The Associated Press has revealed that prior to his death, Osama bin Laden was looking to re-brand al-Qaida.
At first glance, one would wonder why he’d mess with such a successful formula. His outfit owns the international terrorism market, aspiring terrorists fall over each other to pledge allegiance to him, and the mere mention of al-Qaida is enough to send state security services scrambling.
So why fix it if it ain’t broke?
In a letter recovered from bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout, the late terrorist leader laments that al-Qaida (the base) “lacked a religious element, something to convince Muslims worldwide that they are in a holy war with America.”
He mused about changing it to Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad (Monotheism and Jihad Group), or maybe Jama’at I’Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida (Restoration of the Caliphate Group).
If nothing else, this illustrates the limitations of bin Laden’s skill set. Yes, he was successful in operating a global organization bent on getting the most powerful country on earth to completely re-orient its foreign policy and spend trillions of dollars chasing terrorists around the world. But Monotheism and Jihad Group? Bor-ing! The man was no Don Draper.
Plus, the reason behind the image re-boot as he saw it, was that al-Qaida’s brand was suffering due to its continued slaughter of fellow Muslims, particularly in Iraq. For a man who saw himself as a bulwark of Islam against the corrupt West, you’d think he might consider an operational approach to the problem. Killing fewer Muslims, for example.
However, since asking al-Qaida to lower the body count is tantamount to asking McDonald’s to sell fewer burgers, one can see why he chose the brand re-boot. It’s too bad he didn’t reach out for help, as the Internet has provided more options that he could have shaken his Kalashnikov at.
Here are some front-runners (and don’t be shy about throwing in your two cents):
• League of Extraordinary Beards
• Terrorists Without Borders