This commentary was published in The Gulf News on 10/05/2011
Once upon a time there lived a man called Osama. His father was a poor Yemeni who made his fortune in Saudi Arabia; his mother a sophisticated lady from Syria. The boy grew up in a palace with four of his 51 siblings. He read poetry, was shy and softly spoken, eschewing frivolities for studies — except for his love of English football. He married a 14-year-old cousin and graduated in engineering. Yet he yearned for something more meaningful.
While still in his 20s, he travelled to a distant mountainous country to raise funds for co-religionists fighting Soviet invaders — and stayed to join the battle. There, he met an Egyptian surgeon with whom he formed a guerrilla group committed to warring against colonialist enemies of their faith. Everyone who met Osama said he dreamt of martyrdom.
Osama set up training camps for fighters from all over the world who shared his hatred. They blew up embassies and a naval destroyer while 19 young men were preparing themselves for the day that would change the world.
So ends the story of Osama and like every good tale there's a moral to be learned. ‘When fighting the enemy, remember not to become the enemy you are fighting' is, sadly, the one that springs to my mind. Ultimately, Osama and Obama had something in common, a misguided belief that the end justifies the means. If we want to preserve our humanity, it never does.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs.