Almost everyone will agree that this is the strongest possible argument against Osama bin Laden’s recent assassination: neither that it violated the US Constitution, nor Rule of Law, nor international treaty nor Pakistani sovereignty; nor that it made America’s interminable pieties against “offing” your enemies look just a teensy bit hypocritical.
Nope, the best argument for sparing him is that the Al Qaeda terrorist mastermind’s final five years truly sucked. Real justice required US Navy Seals to helicopter in, weld his gate shut, and keep throwing sandwiches over the wall until he died of old age or took his own life. The latter could not have been long off if we judge by breaking news.
First consider Obama’s “stately pleasure dome” in the leafy military cantonment and posh Pakistani retirement town of Abbottabad. Lacking a single tree or a square yard of grass, with black mildew seeping down the exterior walls from the leaky rooftop water-tank, his home was a dump only valuable due to its location, in the same sense as the ramshackle hut from ‘Green Acres’ were it built on Rodeo Drive. At least Alcatraz has a sea-view.
Then we are told that Osama shared this palace with three wives at once, which isn’t even Islamic. Whether you are a good Muslim, or dallying with thoughts of conversion, or would rather be dragged to death behind a Greyhound Bus, Islamic tradition demands that a Muslim’s every wife get a separate-but-equal house or apartment. An Afghan friend’s late father-in-law had the legal limit of four wives and he built five adjacent and identical houses: one for each wife, and one for himself presumably with doors that only locked from the inside. He may have been devout, but he wasn’t an idiot and wanted some peace and quiet. But not the self-declared Über-Muslim boss of Al-Qaeda, no sirree.
Osama chose to be locked into his treeless, concrete compound with three at a time. We get some idea of life in the happy bin Laden family by recent leaks from seemingly-reliable Pakistani sources, that under questioning the two Saudi-born wives blame the Yemeni one for either squealing on Pa or stupidly getting tracked and leading the Godless Unbelievers to their compound.
Whatever their faults, Pakistanis are among the world’s most humorous people and The Australian newspaper reports: “’The joke in Pakistan is that Bin Laden called in his location to CIA because he was being driven mad cooped up for five years with so many wives and children,” said Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister.’”
It gets even better on reflection. Not only did the world’s most-wanted criminal mastermind live with three wives at once, but the Saudi-born two were of let us say “classic” vintage while the Yemeni was of fairly recent manufacture. This is rarely a recipe for domestic bliss.
We are now told that the Ford and the Chevy lived on the second floor while the Lamborghini lived on the third floor, where Daddy-o kept the household’s only television set. If the elder wives got bored, I suppose they had prayer-rugs to keep them happy. Not.
It gets better still. According to his electricity bills, the recently-living closest-equivalent to evil-genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld “used hardly any power, just enough for lights and a small television that bin Laden kept in his top-floor bedroom.” That’s the bedroom next-door to his hottest wife, while down below his “first wife recounts how he refused to allow air-conditioners or a refrigerator, even in the sweltering desert heat.” Abbottabad, a former British Raj “hill-station” resort, has no deserts and enjoys a rather pleasant climate but (a) that may be less appreciable to the first wife locked into a leafless, concrete compound with (b) “that no-good Yemini bitch who wouldn’t let me watch the &£!!2£X% soaps on Osama’s %X!!%$! teevee.”
I have no claim to the $25 million reward for Osama but I don’t want it: just give me the rights to the sitcom.
Now most of us try to take life’s rough with the smooth, and perhaps Osama was no different except that there wasn’t any smooth. He couldn’t escape the daily, domestic, female-led jihad, even by burying himself in his work.
The authorities seem to have scanned rapidly through the vast pile of hard-discs and thumb-drives that littered Osama’s cupboards, in order to alert allied nations under imminent threat of terrorist attack, but there aren’t any. Without either a phone or an internet-connection, he just hung around waiting for some hapless courier to turn up. While better information will no doubt be forthcoming, the world’s greatest evil mastermind apparently had no tight connection with Al Qaeda operatives, and had little to keep him occupied except day-dreaming big terrorist ideas that went nowhere. He had regressed to age 9: “Hey, what if we got space aliens to give us a ray-gun that would, you know, like vaporise the Super Bowl. Way cool!” Depending upon one’s definition, this is either self-amusement or self-abuse.
Even Osama could not have fooled himself into believing that he mattered anymore. To paraphrase the old lament from Yiddish-language vaudeville: “No jewellery, no calls, no chocolates, no flowers, and when I send plans to terrorise the world do they even answer?”
Of course, unable to leave well-enough alone, the CIA’s incompetent disinformationmeisters spread the silly rumour that Osama’s computer hardware was full of porn but nobody believes it. Said one ordinary Afghan whom I questioned at random: “Phooey. It’s just the Americans lying to show that he was a bad Muslim, when we already knew that he was a bad Muslim because he murdered people.” He added, “He was old and sick and living with three bickering wives who could put anyone off of sex anyway.” Trust Americans to do the world a favour and then make people distrust and despise them by lying about it.
The only people who could write this as a script would be a team of Ibsen, Kafka and Mel Brooks: Ibsen for the impotence and hopelessness, Kafka for the surrealism and Brooks for the laughs. Otherwise, had Fred MacMurray not died in 1991, he could have been given a fake beard to star in “My Three Wives.”
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