Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 23:39:15 -0400
From: Dmitri Gusev <email@example.com>
Subject: Article for the JRL: Author of bin Laden's "Mein Kampf" Russian-born?
A couple of weeks ago I asked a friend of mine, Russian writer and Afghan war veteran Vladimir Grigoriev to find out if "The Foundation", a 1951 sci-fi bestseller by Isaac Asimov, a well-known American author and scientist, was translated and published in Arabic, and if so, under what title? Yesterday, I learned that my friend contacted his former professor Olga Frolova, currently the Chair of the Arab Philology Department, School of Oriental Languages, St. Petersburg State University, and she confirmed that the book was published in Arabic as "Al Qaeda", the title matching the name of the international terrorist network founded and headed by Osama bin Laden. (The Western media usually translates "Al Qaeda" back as "The Base", as if a base of terrorists were been referred to.)
This peculiar coincidence would be of little interest if not for abundant parallels between the plot of Asimov's book and the events unfolding now. The central character of "The Foundation" named Seldon, the pioneer of a new scientific discipline called "psychohistory", predicts that the Galactic Empire is about to fall. While the process of disintegration cannot not be stopped, Seldon decides to send an expedition to a remote place on the outskirts of the Galaxy and establish The Foundation, which is to become the nucleus of the next Empire. Even though the Old Empire tries to destroy The Foundation with its superior military might, Seldon's plan eventually works despite many predicted difficulties and occasional random hiccups. Seldon does not live long enough to see the triumph of his cause, but he leaves videotaped messages at a machine timed to broadcast them to his followers and instruct them at the turning points of The Foundation's history, as his forecasts are coming true.
I think the public would be relieved to realize that the internationally feared Terrorist No. 1 is trying to mimic a scenario from his favorite science fiction novel. I also believe that the study of "The Foundation" (along with its sequels and prequels) can help the decision makers around the globe to better understand what they're up against and what the ultimate objectives of Osama bin Laden are, much in the same way a study of "Mein Kampf" would have benefited Adolf Hitler's counterparts a great deal if they bothered to read the book and paid attention to what it said.
Isaac Asimov, a famous Jewish-American author and researcher, was born January 2, 1920, in Petrovichi, Russia, on the territory of the present day Belarus. He died April 6, 1992, in New York, New York, several months before the first attack struck the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.