Juan Cole's explanation of what Osama Bin Laden was referring to when he talked of the towers of Beirut is convincing (see post on his blog at 6.25am on 31 Oct).
Cole's historical analysis provides useful insight into an important element in the historical genesis of the pathological thinking of which Osama is part - or which he at least exploits - viz, the 1982 Israel bombardment of Beirut that killed 18,000 people, followed by Sabra and Chatila:
The horrible Israeli siege of Beirut in summer of 1982, which lasted for weeks, involved the brutal and indiscriminate bombing of the city. Many of the "towers" that were destroyed contained hundreds of innocent Beirutis. Sharon's proposed puppet ruler, Bashir Gemayyel, used to keep posters of Hitler in his locker at college. He was promptly assassinated and the whole scheme fell apart.
When I visited him in Beirut last December, Michael Stanton (who arrived long after the war) vividly conveyed to me the fear, anger, frustration that his neighbours had communicated to him when the Israeli jets buzzed their aparment blocks.