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U of C author’s work found on bin Laden’s bookshelf

By Fabian Mayer, May 28 2015 —

University of Calgary professor’s celebrity grew last week when the CIA  revealed that one of his books was found in Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound.

Barry Cooper teaches courses in political philosophy and has been at the U of C for over 30 years. His book, titled New Political Religions, or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism, was found along with 38 other English-language books in bin Laden’s compound.

Cooper said he wasn’t sure what to make of the news when he first heard it.

“I was kind of bewildered,” Cooper said. “I had no idea why he would be interested in reading it because it’s not a standard discussion of terrorism or counter-terrorism or anything like that. It’s a book in political philosophy.”

Cooper hopes the CIA will let him look at bin Laden’s copy of his book next time he’s in Washington D.C.

“It’d be interesting to see if he made any notes,” Cooper said. “I suspect I’d find a lot of disagreement.”

The book, published in 2005, is a discussion of the spiritual aspects of terrorists’ motivations. Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group bin Laden led, features prominently in the book.

Bin Laden helped plan and carry out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. He was killed in  an American raid on his home in 2011.

Cooper hasn’t checked if the book has seen a boost in sales. 

“I was suggesting I might e-mail my publisher to tell them they should bring out a special edition, ‘found on bin Laden’s bookshelf,’” Cooper joked. 

Cooper said he would be happy if the recent revelation led to more people reading the book.

“It’s a brilliant analysis of spiritual disorder,” Cooper said. “I think it would benefit everybody, including bin Laden if he actually read it.”

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