What Is "A Letter To America" And Why Is It Going Viral On TikTok?

Gen Z Americans are apologizing to Osama Bin Laden on TikTok and seemingly justifying acts of terrorism after reading his infamous “A Letter to America."

By Meredith Evans4 min read
Pexels/Maxime LEVREL

It's been over 20 years since Osama bin Laden, the founder of the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11, wrote a letter to the American people. One year after 9/11, he penned the "Letter to America," which was released after its discovery by journalists from sources close to al-Qaeda.

The document went viral on TikTok this week after several people shared it on the platform. The letter was originally found in The Guardian, but it was removed on November 15, 2023, after having been on the website for over two decades. You can read the archived version of the letter here.

Letter to America Explained

To give you a summary, Bin Laden states his reasoning behind the attacks on the American people, defends Palestine, and condemns the U.S. for repeating “fabricated lies” that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine and for creating an alliance with Israel. He also touches on America stealing "oil and wealth" by force and starving Muslims and children in Iraq. 

Bin Laden argues that the American people are the ones who have funded the war by paying taxes. He later adds why he has permission to destroy the U.S. economy and launch an attack: "Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to take revenge. Thus, if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack back. Whoever has destroyed our villages and towns, then we have the right to destroy their villages and towns. Whoever has stolen our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy. And whoever has killed our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs."

How the Internet Is Reacting  

Many TikTokers believe that we’ve all been lied to, and some have even said they feel like they're going through an "existential crisis" after reading it. @arianajasmine___ writes, "When you read Osama Bin Laden's letter to America and you realize you've been lied to your whole entire life."

@biondaxox asks her audience after reading the letter, "what are some reasonings that you guys remember that our government told us for why 9/11 happened? Because for me, I remember hearing like, 'They hate Americans because we're free and they're not.'"

Those who were old enough to witness firsthand the fear and utter devastation that millions of Americans experienced during 9/11 are understandably not happy with Gen Z’s reception of the letter, though. “Every one of these people is a leftist, and they’re all concluding that *Osama Bin Laden* was the good guy, and that 9/11 was justified because of 'occupier' (American) oppression,” @conservmillen writes on X. 

“They argue that terrorism is commendable 'resistance.' A Muslim woman claims in a video that now the world will know the truth. It takes a single brain cell to add this to what we’ve seen at pro-Palestine protests and realize that a huge portion of the left-wing of the United States is willing to commit any act of violence, no matter how grotesque, as long as it’s done in the name of resistance and liberation. They’re stupid and evil - the most dangerous combination.” 

However, some TikTokers are arguing that they're only trying to highlight the crimes that America has committed and that they're not trying to support Bin Laden's extremist views in any kind of way. A comment on the platform from a woman named Araz read, "no one is defending Bin Laden or even agreeing with him. The point is the reasons we were told 9/11 were not true."

While I think it's important for Gen Z to question where our money is going and why our presidents have funded war crimes, I certainly don't believe people should deem Bin Laden as the "good guy" in this scenario. Let's not forget that his intention was to set up an Islamic state and establish Shari'a Law. He's also killed Kenyans and Tanzanian citizens and wounded thousands of people. At the end of the day, he remains a terrorist and religious extremist and 3,000 innocent lives were taken on September 11 as a result of the attacks. There is simply no getting around that.

The danger in hailing Bin Laden as someone who was only acting in "retaliation" is the same kind of behavior we've seen recently in leftists who are supporting Hamas's egregious terrorist acts. Currently, an alarming amount of young people are advocating support for Hamas, seeing them as martyrs rather than terrorists, when the group brutally murdered more than 1,400 while 240 were taken hostage since the depraved festival attack. There's no denying that supporting Hamas would result in more senseless casualties in Israel.

Why People Want Ceasefire, from a Gen Z's Perspective

At the same time, I don't think dismissing this generation's concerns about funding war is fair. In October, President Biden requested $100 billion in foreign aid for Congress for Israel and Ukraine. The implications of this are concerning. 61% of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck. 500,000 to 600,000 people are experiencing homelessness in the United States, and about 107,000 veterans have no place to sleep each night. Citizens are drowning in debt as household expenses grow faster than income. Americans owe nearly $1 trillion in credit card debt. An estimated 44% of Americans are struggling to pay for healthcare. The country itself owes $33.74 trillion in federal debt. Air pollution in the country has caused 196,930 premature deaths. Lord knows how many Americans have died or suffered from medical malpractice.

Liberals and Gen Z aren't the only ones who are tired of wars. 80% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans support a ceasefire, according to a new survey. Turns out, we all have more in common than we thought. Most of us want to be prioritized, and we don't want any civilians harmed or killed in any country.

When you look at the bigger picture, some of Gen Z's frustrations are understandable. America is facing a domestic crisis. Our people are suffering, and the government has overlooked the needs of its own citizens. It almost makes sense why they lack a sense of patriotism after witnessing the corruption of the American government for so long.

To top it all off, amid this terrible crisis in our country, we're somehow still always looking to fight each other. It's always Gen Z versus Millennials versus Boomers (or men versus women, or Republicans versus Democrats, you get the point), and maybe that's all done on purpose since we're all getting screwed by the same people in government. They can't have us uniting, can they?

Still, none of this is grounds for justifying Bin Laden's attack on American civilians. The tragic event resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives. Nothing can ever justify such cruelty, no matter the grievances or frustrations we all share against the government. This goes the same for supporting terrorist organizations like Hamas, who, in a heartbeat, would jail most liberals for their LGBTQ beliefs or women for simply exercising their rights. Resorting to terrorism that causes harm to innocent civilians in any land is fundamentally wrong. Liberals believe that Hamas's terrorism will only help Palestine, but doing so will only perpetuate suffering and violence. It's time we all start thinking critically rather than regurgitating left-wing talking points from brainwashed people on TikTok, and instead denounce any form of extremism that will result in more harm.

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