So at long last it is finally being realised that it’s time to talk to Bin Laden and see if we can’t find a reasonable compromise with him as we did with another bearded ‘terrorist’ Gerry Adams.
Bush and Blair tell us there is nothing to negotiate about with Bin Laden (Didn’t Thatcher say the same about Adams?) but did we forget that Osama offered us a truce in his ‘Letter to America’?
I’d suggest that this letter be used as the basis for the opening round of negotiations with al-Qaeda and I’ve even gone to the trouble of preparing a briefing paper for those who will represent the infidel side in these talks. Of course we will need to ask the EU or some other international organisation to host a conference of infidel nations in order to establish a legitimate body to represent us. Let’s hope that the US don’t try to unilaterally block such a move.
In his letter, after making his initial, admittedly unpromising, opening comments that “Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge.”, Mr.Bin Laden asked the pertinent question:
What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
Let’s take these point by point and see what kind of deal we might be able to reach.
OBL: (1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.
(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Note: I think there may be some room for manoever here regarding the main sticking point which would likely be the phrase ‘complete submission’. Is Bin Laden really going to stick to the precise wording and demand complete submission? Perhaps an amendment, with us accepting the complete love of Allah and the principle of discarding theories which contradict the religion in return for a concession on a partial, occassional or limited submission to His Laws might be acceptable?
OBL: (2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.
(a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling’s, and trading with interest.
Note: Again there is surely a basis for negotation here. I am sure we could accept the end to oppression, immorality and debauchery – no problem there. Also signing up to manners, principles, honour and purity would be fine. There may be some stumbling blocks in the final sentence however. Is Bin Laden suggesting a total ban on fornication? I doubt it, so perhaps a rewording about public acts of fornification or excessive fornification might be workable. Agreeing to the abolition of homosexuality would be problematic for some of the more liberal members of the infidel community (The Dutch could likely cause us some problems here) so it may be prudent to push for some sort of altered wording such as an agreement to end the “promotion of homosexuality” – I think there is, helpfully, a precedent in some 1980’s UK legislation.
Intoxicants and gambling have been banned in the past, even in the United States and public opinion, if prepared correctly, may accept that there are great health benefits to prohibition. The banks may have a problem with a ban on “trading with interest” but I understand that a number of Muslim states have managed to get around this thorny issue and I am sure we could ask for some advice from Bin Laden’s family on that matter and such a gesture may be a useful example of good will from our side.
OBL: (b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:
Note: This does seem rather unnecessary and has probably been included by Bin Laden for the benefit of his domestic audience. We might be able to get this dropped or diluted with the insertion of “one of the worst civilizations”.
In any case much of this is mere rhetoric and should not distract us from some key negotiating points that are later raised by Bin Laden:
OBL: (xi) You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and*industries.
Note: Ok. I think we simply have to get Bush on message about Kyoto. I am sure there would be widespread support for Bin Laden’s green agenda.
OBL: x) Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts. Behind them stand the Jews, who control your policies, media and economy.
Note: Is this not simply a plea for state funding of political parties and a greater diversity in media ownership?
OBL: (4) We also advise you to stop supporting Israel, and to end your support of the Indians in Kashmir, the Russians against the Chechens and to also cease supporting the Manila Government against the Muslims in Southern Philippines.
(5) We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We desire for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.
Note: I think we can go along with this. Perhaps we could get Simon Jenkins to draft a few words on non-interference?
OBL: (6) Sixthly, we call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries. Do not interfere in our politics and method of education. Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.
Note: If the rather threatening tone could be dropped (perhaps removing the references to specific cities?) I’m sure we could find the right wording. Again Jenkins could be of help here.
OBL: (7) We also call you to deal with us and interact with us on the basis of mutual interests and benefits, rather than the policies of sub dual, theft and occupation, and not to continue your policy of supporting the Jews because this will result in more disasters for you.
Note: This is clearly an appeal for goodwill in the negotations – a promising inclusion. However, we need to think about how we can reassure al-Quada that there is no question of favouring the Jews. Perhaps a multi-faith forum? It might be worth asking Neturei Karta to get involved in some form?
As a final comment, it is worth noting that nowhere in his demands does Mr.Bin Laden refer to the somewhat controversial notion of a caliphate. However intelligence reports suggest that this project is of some importance to him and his associates. It may therefore be prudent to consider how far we are willing to go in dealing with that issue. Spain may prove to be particularly sensitive on this matter.