Gimme absolute control, over every living soul,
And lie beside me, baby - that's an order. - Leonard Cohen
Briefly, I'm wondering what to make of Kola Boof.
Nearly a quarter of the Sudanese poet's autobiography, Diary of a Lost Girl, describes her months spent in Morocco in 1996 as Osama bin Laden's unwilling mistress. Boof has been called a "fraud" (a "pathological liar" according to bin Laden biography Peter Bergen) for her iconoclastic portait of Osama as a Van Halen-loving, dope-smoking gangbanger, who "rambled on about his favorite TV shows: The Wonder Years, Miami Vice, and MacGyver." (Bergen and other authorities also assert that bin Laden was not in Morocco in 1996, though the same authorities also say little, or merely repeat bin Laden's own denial, concerning his reported visit to a Dubai hospital in July 2001 where he met with the CIA station chief and Saudi royals.)
Where the Boof story is getting attention these days it's usually played for laughs, on account of bin Laden's supposedly comic infatuation with Whitney Houston. But there's something much more interesting. From an excerpt in September's Harper's magazine: "He said the U.S. government was made up of 'fanatical crusaders' and that he'd once worked as a mind reader and trained secret agents for the CIA."
Now, Boof could be a fraud, though her revelations about bin Laden's secret life are no more bizarre than Amanda Keller's about Mohammed Atta, or Leola McConnell's about Bill Bennett, or Cathy O'Brien's about Dick Cheney, or so many other women and men - and girls and boys - about so many other devout jihadists and born-again crusaders. The behaviour is always shocking, but it should no longer be surprising. No man's a hero to his valet, and neither is he a saint to his mistress or sex slave. If we mean to pierce the public veil we need to hear them out. (Or as Boof says, "in any mansion...it's the maids and the 'whores' who know the most. Trust me.")
And we should also consider the possibility that, even if Boof had been Osama's mistress and he told her such things, he may not have been telling her the truth. Perhaps he thought it a good line, to impress the ladies with his connections. But his connections didn't need embellishment, and "mind reader" strikes me as an unlikely fabrication.
Either Boof is lying, bin Laden was bullshitting, or they're both telling the truth. And the implication of that - of Osama having been a psychic spy and a trainer of agents for the CIA - has much more gravity than his "paramount desire" for Whitney Houston. But it's not as funny, so don't hold your breath for the headlines.