Propaganda, War and Urban Myths: 'Spin Laden'

In the aftermath of September 11, there was much agonising in the United States as to why the attacks happened, and why the perpetrators appeared to ‘hate us so much’.

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 December 2001 4 minute READ

Philip Taylor

Director, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds

This realisation, in itself, was described in various quarters as a wake- up call for the US and its image in the wider world.

Having woken up at last to the need to conduct an information war, and on the principle that it is far better to know your enemy if such a ‘war’ is to be won, we need to understand the main themes of anti-American propaganda prior to the attacks, not least because they are sufficiently deep-rooted to provide fertile ground today for refutations about America as ‘a force for good in the world’.

The principal source of anger is, of course, US support for Israeli ‘state-sponsored terrorism’ against the Palestinians.

Although Bin Laden is a comparatively recent convert to this cause, he fully understands how effectively this resentment can be translated into support for his ‘jihad’ against the west.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.