Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on world news
There is controversy in the United States over the “Letter to America” written by Osama bin Laden in 2002, a year after the al-Qaida attacks of 11 September (THE SPECIAL): dating back over 20 years ago, it has recently returned topical and has become almost viral on social media, particularly TikTok, in conjunction with the new bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas underway in the Middle East and with the deep divisions that have emerged over the war. Many shared and appreciated it, especially young people, linking it to the “oppressive” occupation of the Palestinian territories and criticizing US support for Israel. Some influencers also cited it as changing their view on Israel’s war in Gaza. “It’s shocking, the idea that we were sold, that these people woke up one day and suddenly started hating us. It doesn’t make any sense,” wrote a TikTok user, also questioning the way America reported the attacks on the Twin Towers (ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR: THE SPECIAL – UPDATES).
When the phenomenon was taking hold, the Chinese app decided to remove all content related to the letter, investigating its origin. The Guardian also chose to remove the letter from its site, where it had remained for over 20 years, redirecting readers to articles that contextualize it. The White House also intervened in this matter, which touches an ever-open wound in the history of the USA: “There is never a justification for spreading the repugnant, evil and anti-Semitic lies that the leader of al-Qaida told after committed the worst terrorist attack in American history,” said spokesman Andrew Bates. Some US congressmen took advantage of this to relaunch the request to ban TikTok, already banned by some states and on the federal government’s mobile devices. On X, the dem Josh Gottheimer accused the popular Chinese app of being “pushing pro-terrorism propaganda to influence Americans”. And he is not the only one to suspect that Xi Jinping’s China is fanning the flames, despite the recent thaw summit with Joe Biden.
TikTok removed the content
In any case, TikTok intervened: “Content promoting this letter clearly violates our rules on supporting any form of terrorism,” the company explained. He specified that the news according to which the letter was “trending” on the platform were inaccurate: doing a search now with “Letter to America”, however, does not bring up any results but only a warning that this phrase could be associated with “content that violates our guidelines.” Previously, the Chinese app had assured that its algorithm does not push certain content towards users and that since the Hamas attacks on 7 October it has already removed hundreds of thousands of videos in conflict with its policies against disinformation and the promotion of violence.
In his letter, four pages readable in full on the official website of the US Director of National Intelligence, Bin Laden – killed in a US raid in 2011 – addresses “especially young people”, attacking American capitalism, its big corporations and its lobbyists. But above all, US support for the “oppressive Israeli occupation of Palestine” (which must be returned entirely “from the sea to the river” Jordan) and “the killing of our brothers”, indicating this as “the reason for our response on 9/11” . Bin Laden, therefore, criticizes the “lies and immorality” of the West and indicates that attacks on civilians and on the United States are therefore justified. “I just read the ‘Letter to America’ and I will never look at life the same again, I will never look at this country the same again,” one TikTok user wrote in a video seen by 1.2 million fewer people than 24 hours. Another said he was trying to “get back to normal life” after “realizing that everything we learned about the Middle East, 9/11 and terrorism was a lie.”