I’d gone along with the popular wisdom that Bin Laden had only recently expressed interest in the Palestinian cause in order to broaden his appeal – Juan Cole tells us that this conventional view is flat-out wrong.
Bin Laden has repeatedly said that one of the reasons he hit the US was over the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians. Bin Laden has cared deeply about Palestine since his youth. His partner in Peshawar at the Office of Services for 6 years when he was funding the Mujahidin was Abdullah Azzam, a prominent Palestinian Muslim fundamentalist. When he came back to Jiddah from Pakistan after the Soviets withdrew, Bin Laden gave a guest sermon at the local mosque in which he bitterly criticized Israeli actions during the first Intifadah. He declared war on the Zionists and the Crusaders, and has constantly complained about the Occupation of the Three Holy Cities, which are Mecca, Medinah and Jerusalem. Because he did not use traditional Palestianian nationalist language, it has been possible for some to miss his commitment to the Palestine issue.
NB – threads on CT and elsewhere that even mention Palestine or Israel in passing tend to descend swiftly into a repugnant back-and-forth of slurs against Israelis and Palestinians – I’ll be ruthless in deleting comments to this post that even hint at going down that path.