On TikTok, Osama bin Laden’s more than two-decade-old letter to the United States about the September 11 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 Americans in 2001, is rapidly spreading to the platform’s 1 billion users.
The memo is spreading via the viral hashtag #lettertoamerica, a reference to bin Laden’s terrorist manifesto that calls for violence against Americans, Israelis and Jews, promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and condemns homosexuality.
The #lettertoamerica hashtag reached more than 2 million views on Wednesday evening. At the time of publication on Thursday, it had been viewed more than six times, or 13.5 million times. TikTok has denied that it is trending. “The number of videos on TikTok is low and reports of it trending on our platform are inaccurate,” spokesperson Alex Haurek said in a statement Thursday.
“The material promoting this letter clearly violates our rules on supporting terrorism of any kind,” Horeck said. “We are actively and aggressively removing this content and investigating how it came to our platform.” (He added that this problem isn’t just for TikTok. Earlier on Twitter, “Bin Laden” was trending along with “Letter to America” and “TikTok” on Thursday.)
The creators, who revisited bin Laden’s letter in light of the current war in Israel and Gaza, say the memo has forced them to question whether 9/11 was actually an act of terrorism. Many are pointing to the letter to suggest that America was right to attack that day because, according to them, the country was an occupier and oppressor of Palestine and other Arab countries. He also claims that one of the most accessible copies of this letter – a translation published by The Guardian in 2002 – was recently taken down to hide the story from people in the West.