Recordings of bin Laden reciting his penwork were found on some of the 1,500 cassettes discovered in Kandahar, Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. Flagg Miller, an assistant professor at University of California, Davis, has been studying them and will publish his findings next week in the October issue of Language and Communication. Yale is currently cleaning and digitizing the cassettes.
Miller affords us the insight that "Bin Laden is an entertainer with an agenda" and "uses poetry to tap into the cultural orientation, the history and the ethics of Islam," while BBC gushes a bit, saying "â€¦Saudi-born Bin Laden [is] a skilled poet who weaves mystical references as well as jihadist imagery into his verse, reciting 1,400-year-old poetry alongside more current mujahideen-era work."
He weaves? If so, there are more than a few unseemly strands in the fabric. Check out his work below:
Tomorrow, William, you will discover which young man
[will] confront your brethren, who have been deceived by [their own] leaders.
A youth, who plunged into the smoke of war, smiling
He hunches forth, staining the blades of lances red
May God not let my eye stray from the most eminent
Humans, should they fall, Djinn, should they ride
[And] lions of the jungle, whose only fangs
[Are their] lances and short Indian swords
As the stallion bears my witness that I hold them back
[My] stabbing is like the cinders of fire that explode into flame
On the day of the stallions' expulsion, how the war-cries attest to me
As do stabbing, striking, pens, and books.
An unnamed Arabic specialist quoted in the Times says that the poems are a "adolescent and brutal," "a disgrace," and don't merit publishing. You can say that again.