Asimov og al-Qaeda

Vi kastede os over første afsnit af Apple TV’s Foundation forleden – ikke noget banebrydende, men heller ikke en oplevelse, der afholder mig fra at se videre. Men det mindede mig om en historie, der cirkulerede for år tilbage – om hvordan al-Qaeda havde fået sit navn fra… den arabiske oversættelse af Isaac Asimovs Stiftelsen. Det er en god historie: en samling kloge mennesker bekæmper barbariet, fordi de har det store overblik – eller en samling mennesker med storhedsvanvid tror, de kan styre historien; alt efter hvilken vinkel man vil se historien fra.

The Guardian har en længere artikel om det:

Seldon, like Bin Laden, transmits videotaped messages for his followers, recorded in advance. There is also some similarity in geopolitical strategy. Seldon’s vision seems oddly like the way Bin Laden has conceived his campaign. “Psycho-history” is the statistical treatment of the actions of large populations across epochal periods – the science of mobs as Asimov calls it. “Hari Seldon plotted the social and economic trends of the time, sighted along curves and foresaw the continuing and accelerating fall of civilisation.”

Desværre lader det til, at historien – som de fleste rigtig gode historier – er falsk. I al fald ifølge Language Log .

So I asked Marc Sageman about this, and he responded that “it is the US media and US government that gave AQ its name around 1998”, noting that “At the time, the group around bin Laden was simply known Al Jamaat al Sheikh, or the Sheikh’s group”, and that “Originally, al-Qaeda referred to the military base that people sponsored by bin Laden trained at. It was not the name of an organization.”

Illustration af Christopher Dombres

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