He lied to his followers for years.
He told them he was chosen by God to lead them, and that they were the only "true" believers; everybody else was okay with abortion, homosexuality, and was weak-kneed about the Bible's call for a vengeance that mandates the death penalty. He reveled, in fact, in his ability to use the death penalty.
The rightwing preachers loved him, and he showered them with attention, bending government to shower them with wealth and power. They, in turn, told their congregants that, despite his personal failings, he was The One, the reincarnation or at least the modern version of an ancient king who scripture said would come to lead their people into the Last Days when the Messiah would return.
He used race and religion as weapons, promoting scorn and hate against those unlike him and his followers. Intolerance and bigotry bound his acolytes to him.
He told his followers that all the politicians were corrupt except those who had pledged loyalty to him, and encourage them to follow a bizarre cult belief that those political leaders regularly engaged in vile acts of Satan-worshiping and perverted sexual practices.
He whipped them up into a frenzy. He used everything from sophisticated online propaganda techniques to old fashion rallies to build their loyalty to him, their willingness to fight for him, even, for some, their willingness to die for him.
He was a tall, vain man who obsessed on his own appearance, demanded absolute loyalty from his third wife, who stood by him as his evil act unfolded, and his children from her and the other wives.
He burned through much of his inherited real estate construction fortune building a small empire devoted to his cult of hero worship of himself, becoming a minor media star and an outspoken advocate for cracking down on crime and criminals.
He reveled in being their leader, their chosen one, the unique person who they believed could save their nation, their religion, and their way of life.
He never specifically told anybody to attack US landmarks in a way that was explicitly illegal; instead, he told them they had to fight, they had to be strong, and that they were the "last chance" to save a threatened way of life that mostly flourished in rural areas.
But he left it to others to plan the actual attack.
Others who lived far away, who had spent years learning the techniques and technologies of the weapons they would use, others who actually planned the effort to decapitate the government and its institutions of power with a mighty blow that would shock the world.
He surrounded himself with corrupt cronies who drew their authority and power from their close association with him, and helped fill the ranks of the government he had seized, at almost every level across the country, with people who'd sworn fealty to him.
For his followers and true believers, it seemed he was the Blessed One, the Midas touch, the man who turned everything into gold. He loved and reached out to the "poorly educated," knowing they were the least likely to understand the historic blasphemy he was committing against both their religion and the pro-democracy movement that was sweeping the nation.
When his followers finally executed the plan they had organized in secret, with funding and a wink and a nod from him, whipped into a frenzy by his oratorical skills, he refused to acknowledge responsibility for their horrific act or the people who died as a result of it.
In his public statements he feigned ignorance of the details, although reports leaked out that, at the time of the attack, as people were fleeing in terror and dying, he was gleefully watching the entire thing on television from his place of safety.
At first, it seemed he would escape any sort of penalty or punishment.
Right after his followers pulled off the crime he'd encourage them to commit, elected Republicans expressed outrage and blamed him by name. Over time, however, their efforts to hold him accountable became more and more feeble, and they eventually changed their mind about prosecuting him altogether.
The Republican leader said, "I really just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with you." It looked, just as with pretty much everything else in his life where he had been irresponsible and destructive, that he would get away with this one, too.
After all, he hadn't taken up arms against anybody, he hadn't beaten a policeman - or anybody else - to death, he didn't even participate in the planning of the attack.
Eventually, however, the task fell to a Democratic politician to bring him down.
Osama bin Laden was finally brought to justice by President Barack Obama on May 2, 2011.
Originally posted on thomhartmann.medium.com.