Kan'an Makiya in the winter of 2002: "... The tape that depicts bin Laden joking around and sitting in a social situation with a sheik from Saudi Arabia and other visitors and talking about what happened at the World Trade Center towers building is, I think, a good illustration of the phrase that Hannah Arendt uses, "banality of evil," because the social setting was utterly banal. This was a typical Gulf Arab congregation in the evening. ... What was evil was not the laughter and the various gestures and mannerisms that are part and parcel of that particular setting if you are a Gulf Arab.
What was so jarring was what the conversation was about, which was this act of apocalyptic destruction. So here are these men having a totally ordinary social conversation, perhaps around cups of coffee and teas and pastry. ... But what they're talking about is the death and destruction of 3,500 people, and they're praising it and so on. That is the jarring element.
It's exactly like Eichmann sitting behind his desk, turning out his paperwork, which results in hundreds of thousands of people being shipped off to the concentration camps. It's the coming together, the confluence of these two things that is, I think, so evil. The fact that these people have so internalized the act, so accepted it; not a single qualm is there. Nothing. They're very happy with it. They're talking about how many people are going to be converted to Islam because of it. ... The kind of demented quality of this speech and the expectations that was present in that tape, that is frightening. Frightening, and truly exceptional. ..."