Bruce B. Lawrence writes about Osama bin Laden's public ejaculations. The one attractive feature of this fanatic's style is that bin Laden writes in an antiquated, neo-classical Arabic, and often coins rhyming verses to spread his message.
He believes killing women and children is an acceptable response to the "Judeo-Christian Crusade" which has been launched, apparently, against Islam. Bin Laden is a nihilist, who wishes to destroy societies on earth in anticipation of heavenly delights after death. He isn't interested in improving conditions for the people left alive on earth.
His rejection of the modern world, and the purist simplicity of his destructive urges, may seem romantic, and attract adolescent malcontents eager to die for a cause, to give meaning to their lives by violently denying it to others.
His use of the Koran and the writings of distinguished Muslims is subtle and polemical; his use of modern media, especially Al-Jazeera but also Islamist websites, has given his words a wider audience than would have been possible a decade ago.
It's still astounding, though, that a psychopathic mass-murdering nihilist should be taken so seriously, beyond the confines of some sick computer game.
The Chronicle: 11/4/2005: In Bin Laden's Words