Osama bin Laden’s secret mountain hideaway is in one of the most inaccessible places on Earth: Tora Bora. So when Syracuse University announced it wanted to store all of its books in a remote location, Mr. bin Laden saw his opportunity.
“There is no place more remote than this,” Mr. bin Laden claims. “Syracuse will be able to put as much distance between itself and its books as it wants, and I will have–how do you say?–more ambiance. Because you know, you can only hang so many rugs on the walls, and all of our ‘Death to the Great Satan!’ posters are riddled with bullet holes. So it will be nice to have the books.”
It is not clear yet whether Syracuse University will accept Mr. bin Laden’s offer. However, one highly placed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was very tempting:
“Miles and miles of clean, dry, premium storage space for next to nothing. How can you beat that? Also, he’s willing to digitize the entire catalog and put it on-line, provided we don’t sell the rights to Google.”
Mr. bin Laden is not even asking for money. What he wants instead is two Blu-Ray DVD players, five bags of popcorn, and twelve pints of Hagen Daas ice cream for every 500 books stored. Plus a lifetime Tivo subscription.
“Of course I could charge much more,” Mr. bin Laden said. “But I need the books. The winters here are long, and you can only read Bomb Making for Dummies and The Anarchist’s Cookbook so many times. Also, for eight years, I have been tearing my beard out waiting to find out what happens in Harry Potter, and #1 Lady’s Detective Club, and Uglies. And Abdullah, my twentieth cousin thricely removed, tells me there is a new masterpiece that reflects all of current American thought. I believe it is called Twilight. This I cannot wait to study.”
While Syracuse considers Mr. bin Laden’s offer, the State Department is trying to decide whether it should let the deal go through or not.
“On the one hand,” says Secretary Clinton, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists. On the other hand, dropping books instead of bombs from our unmanned drones could solve a lot of strategic and diplomatic issues. And it’s cheaper. So we’re studying the offer carefully.”
Meanwhile, Mr. bin Laden has already begun turning his mountain lair into a library. Every day a team of dedicated jihadist carpenters lays a thousand feet of brand new cinderblock shelves along the walls. And Mr. bin Laden himself has begun installing the coffee shop and Wi-Fi. Soon, Tora Bora may be to Syracuse scholars what the library at Alexandria was to many ancient scholars–a nice place to find some books, if you can get there.