The Gen Zers who think Osama Bin Laden is an anti-capitalist freedom fighter: How influencer who quit her Amazon job to make $9,000 a month online became poster girl for Tiktokers enthusiastically sharing 9/11 terror mastermind’s Letter To America
A Gen Z influener who became the poster girl for TikTokers enthusiastically sharing Osama Bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America’ is a champagne socialist who quit her corporate job at Amazon to make influencer videos, it has been revealed.
Lynette Adkins was among a host of social media users to post their reactions to the letter, which the al-Qaeda leader wrote in an attempt to justify the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia that killed nearly 3,000.
Video creators appeared to equate the terror chief’s views on Palestine with showing solidarity with Palestinian people amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, with some responding to his comments by saying: ‘My eyes have been opened.’
Adkins, from Austin, Texas, was one of the first and most prominent TikTokers to share the letter on her account, which had a following of more than 177,000 but today appears to have been removed.
The viral trend then went into overdrive when American journalist Yashar Ali posted a compilation video of TikTokers’ reactions, including that of Adkins.
The trend appears to have started with TikToker Lynette Adkins who posted a video on November 14 telling her followers to read the manifesto
Osama Bin Laden wrote his ‘letter to America’ in 2002, using it in a twisted attempt to justify the 9/11 attacks
At Bin Laden’s direction, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on 9/11 in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania on September 11 2001
The supercut has been viewed more than 32 million times, more than 16 times the total number of views of the original TikToks which used the #lettertoamerica hashtag. The app has since removed this hashtag.
Nevertheless, the Gen Z fascination with the letter appears to have been organic, with one influencer telling Rolling Stone she had seen clips encouraging people to read the document as long as a week ago, before they eventually appeared ‘all over’ her For You page.
READ MORE: Gen-Z TikTokers send Bin Laden’s 2002 ‘Letter to America’ viral: Terror chief’s 9/11 justification wins support among pro-Palestine youngsters who claim their ‘eyes have been opened’ after finding it on Guardian website
Adkins told viewers: ‘I need everyone to stop doing what they’re doing right now and go read ‘Letter to America,’ I feel like I’m going through an existential crisis right now.’
The content creator, who also has more than 36,000 followers on Instagram, became a social media star after she used her platforms to moan about working in a corporate job for Amazon.
After less than a year in the role, she quit to become an influencer full-time – documenting the process for all to see – and in one month alone made nearly $9,000 (£7,200) through her videos and brand sponsorship.
Before hitting the social media big bucks, she began working aged 15 in San Antonio in a bid to ease the financial load on her estate agent father and her mother, who works for an insurance company.
Many of her videos denounce corporate culture, and other users who picked up the Letter to America as a result of her sharing it appear to be equating Bin Laden to an anti-capitalist freedom fighter.
In an example of her champagne socialism, Adkins said: ‘The reason there’s so much inequality in this country is not because there’s not enough resources.
‘It’s because there are enough resources, but people at the top, like the 1%, have kept a majority of the world’s resources for themselves. And that’s why I started realizing that we can have it all, but there has to be change.’
The ‘Letter to America’, which dates back to 2002, a year after the 9/11 atrocities, had been published on the Guardian’s website in its entirety, based on a translation it obtained, under a link titled ‘Read the Bin Laden letter in full’.
But the newspaper has now removed it after people began sharing it in the context of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
TikTok said it is ‘proactively and aggressively’ removing the content and has launched an investigation into how it appeared on the social media site.
Hundreds of Gen Z users posted videos in which they seemingly confused the hateful diatribe for an intellectual think piece
The Guardian’s website now displays this notice in place of the letter, which had previously been published in full
The US continues to hold memorial ceremonies for the victims of 9/11, 22 years after the tragedy (pictured: the US flag is unfurled at the 2023 memorial ceremony)
Bin Laden – who was killed by US troops in a Pakistan operation in May 2011 – espoused deeply anti-Semitic views and conspiracy theories in the letter, and said that the American army was ‘shamelessly helping the Jews fight against us’.
He also sought to justify the indiscriminate slaughter of American citizens because they indirectly fund American military efforts through paying taxes.
He wrote: ‘The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine, the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf, and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq.
‘These tax dollars are given to Israel for it to continue to attack us and penetrate our lands. So the American people are the ones who fund the attacks against us, and they are the ones who oversee the expenditure of these monies in the way they wish, through their elected candidates.’
Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley, who is Jewish, said on X, formerly Twitter: ‘If social media companies think algorithms popularising this level of terrorist propaganda is OK, prioritising profits over people, then humanity, we have a problem.’
Signing off with a ‘mind blown’ emoji, she added: ‘No, Osama Bin Laden is not misunderstood.’
Writer Frances Weetman, however, had another take – claiming the Guardian version of Bin Laden’s extremist letter, was ‘sanitised’ to remove the most extreme anti-Semitic elements.
She wrote: ‘The real question isn’t why idiot leftist children indoctrinated on Tiktok are agreeing with Osama Bin Laden but why the guardian had originally published a sanitised version of his words that erases the references to Jewish world power / capital.’
Some TikTok users have shared their discomfort at sharing the views of an infamous terrorist leader.
One user commented on a video: ‘There are literally so many other ways to promote Palestinian liberation than boosting bin Laden.’
Other TikTokers took to the platform to hit back at the enthusiastic sharing of the letter
Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley hit out at social media firms for ‘popularising’ terrorist manifestos
Writer Frances Weetman claimed that the version of the letter published by the Guardian – which is littered with anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist views – was ‘sanitised’
A spokesperson for TikTok said: ‘Content promoting this letter clearly violates our rules on supporting any form of terrorism. We are proactively and aggressively removing this content and investigating how it got onto our platform.
‘The number of videos on TikTok is small and reports of it trending on our platform are inaccurate. This is not unique to TikTok and has appeared across multiple platforms and the media.’
In its 2002 article accompanying the letter, The Guardian said the text had been published in Arabic on a Saudi Arabian website used by al-Qaeda to disseminate messages to followers, and was sent to British extremists via email.
Visiting the page the letter was published on, the following message is now displayed: ‘This page previously displayed a document containing, in translation, the full text of Osama bin Laden’s ‘letter to the American people’, as reported in the Observer on Sunday 24 November 2002.
‘The document, which was published here on the same day, was removed on 15 November 2023.’
The Guardian said in a statement on the removal of the letter: ‘The transcript published on our website 20 years ago has been widely shared on social media without the full context.
‘Therefore we have decided to take it down and direct readers to the news article that originally contextualized it instead.’
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