The Null Device

Was Osama Bin Laden inspired by Isaac Asimov? Scifi author China Miéville says he may well have been:
`My supervisor, an expert in the Middle East, told me about a rumour circulating about the name of Bin Laden's network. The term "Al-Qaeda" seems to have no political precedent in Arabic, and has therefore been something of a conundrum to the experts, until someone pointed out that a very popular book in the Arab world, Arabs apparently being big readers of translated sf, is Asimov's Foundation, the title of which is translated as "Al-Qaeda". Unlikely as it sounds, this is the only theory anyone can come up with.'

There are 4 comments on "":

Posted by: Jimbob Wed Nov 7 01:47:35 2001

Isn't Asimov jewish? hmmmm....

Posted by: Toby Thain Wed Nov 7 06:54:25 2001

Oh come on, this sounds a bit daft. So what if "Foundation" is translated that way? It seems quite a suitable concept for naming a political movement. Unless the Arabic phrase doesn't exist apart from this coinage in an edition of Asimov, there's no reason to suspect a connection. Has anyone asked what the Arabic phrase *means*, rather than whether it has political connotations per se...?

Posted by: Seth Gordon Wed Nov 7 19:28:40 2001

The Hebrew translation of "Foundation" is titled "Mossad ha-Shemini", literally "Foundation of the Sky". The reason why they didn't just call the book "Mossad" is left as an exercise for the reader.

Posted by: Buster Hihmenn Wed Nov 7 21:23:02 2001

A quick google search shows 'Al Qaeda' to be arabic for 'The Base'. Must...resist...lame...joke

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