The TikTok platform is facing criticism as the text of an incendiary “letter to America” from Osama bin Laden, the orchestrator of the 9/11 attacks, gains traction on the platform. The controversial letter, in which bin Laden claimed responsibility for the 9/11 atrocities and cited US actions in Palestine as the driving force, has sparked praise from some TikTok users. Concurrently, bipartisan condemnation from US lawmakers has ensued, decrying the China-owned app for disseminating what they label as “terrorist propaganda.”

Bin Laden’s letter, originally published by The Guardian in 2002 but recently removed due to being shared on social media without proper context, asserts that the creation of Israel is a “crime which must be erased.” It includes antisemitic remarks and objections to US companies allowing women to have jobs, characterizing the AIDS epidemic as a “Satanic American Invention.”

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Who is Lynette Adkins?

Online personality and pro-Palestinian activist Lynette Adkins, with over 175,000 TikTok followers, encouraged her audience on Tuesday to engage with the words of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. In a video, Adkins passionately urged, “I need everyone to stop what they’re doing right now and go read – It’s literally two pages. Go read ‘A Letter to America.'” She further implored viewers to return to her platform and share their thoughts, expressing that she felt an existential crisis and believed others were experiencing similar emotions.

This video garnered significant attention, amassing approximately 800,000 views and over 80,000 likes on TikTok. Adkins’ call for engagement with the content of the letter written by the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attacks sparked a notable response within the TikTok community, with many users seemingly compelled to participate in the discussion.

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TikTok responded to the controversy by acknowledging that content promoting the letter violates their rules on supporting terrorism. The platform claimed to be actively removing such content and investigating its appearance on their platform. However, despite TikTok’s denial, videos related to the letter have garnered substantial views.

Users expressing changed perspectives after reading the letter and criticizing the US government’s actions have contributed to the virality of the trend. Some contend that the government failed other nations, leading to the events of 9/11. This development comes on the heels of renewed calls from Republican lawmakers to ban TikTok, citing its alleged dissemination of anti-Israel content during the conflict with Hamas. Concerns persist from both political parties regarding TikTok’s potential role as a surveillance and propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party, given its ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance. TikTok, however, maintains its denial of any wrongdoing.