Gen Z Has a Problem: They’re Promoting Osama Bin Laden on TikTok

More than 22 years after he unleashed one of the worst terrorist attacks in the world, where nearly 3,000 Americans were killed after a series of hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center and parts of the Pentagon, Osama Bin Laden became viral again, this time after content creators posted videos on TikTok about a letter he allegedly wrote around a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.



Several social media users have been sharing the link to The Guardian’s transcript of bin Laden’s 2002 Letter to America to various platforms, notably TikTok and X (previously known as Twitter). The Guardian took down the transcript of the letter on November 15th.

In the letter, bin Laden addressed the American people and sought to answer the questions “Why are we fighting and opposing you?” and “What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?” The late terrorist leader also said in his letter that the attacks staged by al-Qaeda against the United States were justified by America’s support of Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine.

Many content creators pointed to bin Laden’s view on the Palestinian issue, especially in light of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that saw over a thousand Israelis and over 10,000 Gazans dead since the conflict broke out on October 7th.



Aside from condemning the United States support for Israel, bin Laden, who was killed in an American special operation in Pakistan in 2011, also denounced US intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Somalia, as well as the regions of Kashmir and Chechnya in India and Russia, respectively.

However, the letter also contained homophobic and antisemitic language, accusing the West of “immorality and debauchery,” which includes “acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling and trading with interest.

Several social media users have used bin Laden’s letter to spark a discussion on American foreign policy in the Middle East, especially as a war continues to rage on between Israel and Hamas. Many netizens then encouraged others to read the letter, saying that it helped them understand the United States’ interventions in the Middle East as well as the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Some netizens, particularly left-wing creators on TikTok, claimed that bin Laden’s letter opened their eyes to a history they never learned. One user even scrolled the whole letter in a video and said, “We’ve been lied to our entire lives.



Bin Laden’s letter going viral reflected the realities of social media, where young people (many of whom were born after the 9/11 attacks) consume and share content generated using fast-paced social media apps like TikTok and X designed to make videos go viral, regardless of their content.

But at the same time, it also served as a reminder of the failure of the American education system to teach about 9/11 properly and its rippling effects on American society. A 2017 audit said that only 26 states in the US taught about 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror. But even in the states that do teach about this event, many of them barely discussed the repercussions of the attack, such as discrimination against Muslims, the massive cost of military interventions, and restrictions on civil liberties.



A survey of secondary school teachers by Professor Jeremy Stoddard revealed that while teachers used a variety of materials, such as websites and personal experiences, to teach about 9/11, 20% of the participants said they didn’t have enough materials or even the curriculum needed to teach 9/11 and the War on Terror.

This significant education gap, coupled with growing opposition to American foreign policy and increasing pro-Palestinian support among young Americans, pushes many of the social media-savvy, post-9/11 youth to turn to social media to learn more about what happened on that fateful Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, several platforms, such as X and TikTok, often contain highly politicized content that presents misinformation and conspiracy as the truth.

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