On September 11, 2001, I was enjoying the tail end of my summer holiday with family in Connecticut. Over the past year, I had been studying Osama bin Laden’s enigmatic fatwas as a graduate student at Oxford. At the time, al-Qaeda was not well known, so I was surprised to find that in the climate of paralyzing fear after the attacks, everyone around me professed to know exactly why this group had struck the United States.
A local soccer coach defiantly told me that practice was still on because keeping his team of eight-year olds cooped up indoors in fear is exactly what al-Qaeda secretly wanted. A cab driver told me he was going to keep taking customers from the train station because taking a few days off from work to grieve is exactly what al-Qaeda wanted.
But for the life of me, I couldn’t recall anything in bin Laden’s fatwas about playing soccer or driving cabs.