A decades-old letter written by Osama bin Laden has recently gone viral on social media, gaining widespread attention from many young Americans.
Content related to the letter, which condemns the United States for its support of Israel, has now been banned by TikTok after some users have described the text as “mind-blowing” and an “undisclosed truth” in its revelations about their own country.
Originally published by The Guardian in November 2002 but later removed from the newspaper’s website, the letter was written by bin Laden shortly after orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
In it, he talks about the ideological motivations behind the attacks, attributing them to the U.S. support for Israel and what he characterized as the oppression of the Palestinian people. Bin Laden said that the Palestinians, akin to the Afghan people, deserved “revenge.”
One quote in the letter declared, “The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals.”
Left-wing TikTok users in America, particularly the younger demographic, found the letter to contain previously undisclosed information about the U.S. role in the Middle East. Some claimed their perspectives on the world had shifted, and a few even agreed with bin Laden’s viewpoint.
Journalist Yashar Ali’s compilation of TikTok videos discussing the letter further amplified its impact, making “letter” and “bin Laden” trending topics on social media platform X. Concerns arose about potential radicalization, leading TikTok to remove most videos related to the letter and investigate how they appeared on the platform.
Facing criticism for spreading content that could potentially radicalize young Americans, The Guardian also removed the letter from its website, citing the widespread dissemination on social media without proper context.
However, there were opposing voices advocating against censorship, arguing for allowing people to read and understand the content within its historical context.
Some suggested that the fascination with bin Laden’s letter among young Americans stemmed from the perceived demonization of pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Notably, the TikTok videos focused on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, largely overlooking darker aspects of the letter where bin Laden espoused anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-LGBTQ+ views.
Despite the controversy, some argued against suppressing the letter, emphasizing the importance of understanding the perspectives of terrorists. Osama bin Laden was ultimately killed in 2011 by American Navy SEALs in his compound in Pakistan.