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This could be the next Heartland Institute billboard: Osama bin Laden planned to urge Americans to fight climate change rather than wage war on his jihadist movement, according to papers captured in the raid that killed him.
Time will tell if the nation's climate change denial movement picks up on bin Laden's concern about climate change. But newly released national security documents shed light on the al Qaeda leader's interest in the impacts of global warming and how to generate support for action on climate change — even if that meant helping US President Barack Obama's attempts to regulate greenhouse gases.
"Instead, the world should put its efforts into attempting to reduce the release of [greenhouse] gases," the al Qaeda founder wrote ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington DC. "The choice is with whoever is continuing to assault us. This is a struggle between two of the largest cultures on Earth, and it is in the shadow of catastrophic climatic conditions, and it would help to avoid that by relaying a true picture of the struggle."
The letter is among 113 of bin Laden's translated papers that US intelligence officials released this week. In it, bin Laden urges a subordinate to wrap the threat of global warming into a propaganda push marking the 9/11 anniversary.
In another, apparently written after the banking crisis and subsequent economic crash of 2008, bin Laden blames the crash on "the devastating Jewish control of capital." He questions whether Americans can still afford to fight the then-6-year-old war in Iraq, and calls on them "to free the White House" and recently-elected President Barack Obama "so he can implement the change you seek."
"It does not only include improvement of your economic situation and ensure your security, but more importantly, helps him in making a rational decision to save humanity from the harmful [greenhouse] gases that threaten its destiny," he wrote.
It's not the first time that the jihadist leader raised the issue of climate change. In a document released in 2015, he lamented "the great suffering the natural disasters are leaving behind" in the Muslim world, particular an outbreak of severe flooding in Pakistan. It also revealed bin Laden's vision for a climate change development organization based on Islamic law, independent of "traditional relief efforts," which he called "insufficient."
"Had only 1 percent of [war] expenditures gone to relief, together with a sincere and experienced workforce, the earth's face would have changed, likewise the poor people's condition would have improved much decades ago," he wrote.
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