In the videotape released Thursday, Osama bin Laden ... allows that he was pleasantly surprised by the (Sept. 11) destruction, for which he seems to take ample credit. "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy. ... I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would collapse the area where the plane hit and all the (World Trade Center tower) floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."
But more than just convincing evidence that bin Laden was behind the attacks, the tape offers a surreal look at ... "the banality of evil." ... Liberally sprinkled with references to dreams, prophets and jihads, the tape cements the image of bin Laden as heir to a long line of messianic tyrants ...
Like each of his messianic forebears, he reveals no foresight as to how quickly evil men lose the reins of power. Adolf Hitler, whose Third Reich was to last a thousand years, was vanquished after 12. Congo's Mobutu Sese Seko, Cambodia's Pol Pot, Jim Jones and so many other apocalyptic cult leaders received not the thanks of a grateful people but defeat, ignominy and death. Now, the Taliban has collapsed and Al Qaeda is on the run; bin Laden, serene and supremely creepy on tape, seemed clueless as to how far his star had fallen since his big day in September.
--Los Angeles Times
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