Reiterating our main theme: the middle class rebel/terrorist seeks to free himself from unconscious ambivalence. Bin Laden, as a homo sacer, is ambiguity incarnate; he is pure yet dirty, holy but accursed.
In seeing bin Laden as a godlike figure, the rebel/terrorist performs a textbook case of psychological projection. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung:
All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings, and it is only by recognizing certain properties of the objects as projections or imagos that we are able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects. But if we are not aware that a property of the object is a projection, we cannot do anything else but be naively convinced that it really does belong to the object. All human relationships swarm with these projections; … Cum grano salis ["with a grain of salt"], we always see our own unavowed mistakes in our opponent. Excellent examples of this are to be found in all personal quarrels. Unless we are possessed of an unusual degree of self-awareness we shall never see through our projections but must always succumb to them, because the mind in its natural state presupposes the existence of such projections. It is the natural and given thing for unconscious contents to be projected … Thus every normal person of our time, who is not reflective beyond the average, is bound to his environment by a whole system of projections. (Carl Jung, "General Aspects of Dream Psychology," in "The Collected Works of C. G. Jung," Volume 8, paragraph 507.)
Inner, unconscious elements, then, are projected onto people and things in the outside world. Such projections are normal, routine; they are not, however, random:
Something that strikes me about the object may very well be a real property of that object. But the more subjective and emotional this impression is, the more likely it is that the property will be a projection … [It frequently happens in the projection of character traits] that the object offers a hook to the projection, and even lures it out. This is generally the case when the object himself (or herself) is not conscious of the quality in question; in that way it works directly upon the unconscious of the projicient. (Ibid., paragraph 519.)
An ambiguous position always creates ambivalent feelings. And the astonishingly ambiguous, homo sacer position occupied by bin Laden energizes and attracts ambivalent feelings to an astonishing degree. Bill, there's the hook. A magnetic attraction among unconscious elements is far more powerful than any rational tie. Those experiencing that attraction are literally spellbound. "What's gotten into him?" you wonder about such people. Good question.
The exaggerated and emotional nature of the middle class rebel/terrorist's view of bin Laden exposes the projection for what it is. I must add that, in characterizing bin Laden as Satan, his Western enemies succumb to projections of their own. Contaminated with unconscious elements, their vision of him is at best poor. Unable to "capture" bin Laden figuratively, it comes as no surprise that they have failed to capture him literally.
A major turning point comes when one recognizes that rationality -- objective political and strategic calculations, tactics, etc. -- is not the motor driving the middle class rebel/terrorist's attraction to terrorism in general or to bin Laden in particular. Which leads, Bill, to your second question:
You ask, "Where is it all headed?" At the end of the day, trying to relieve their ambivalent feelings by chaining themselves to bin Laden and his "cause," will not work. What is repressed will pop up again and again in increasingly violent, puerile forms. Cold comfort, indeed.
There are techniques to snap the chain. Jung and his star student, Marie-Louise von Franz, discussed in depth the "withdrawal of projections." Which is why, among other reasons, I won't go into it here.
FOOTNOTE. Prisoners released from Guantanamo who rejoined al-Qaeda claim that Gitmo authorities performed "experiments" on them. The fact that they were aware of the experiments suggests that projection withdrawal was not among them.
For that matter, projection withdrawal is not an experiment.