The clock has started ticking for a new hero to save the world from terrorists in the 24: Legacy premiere. Somewhere between appreciating just how good Corey Hawkins is as the anti-Jack Bauer — Carter, a big-hearted military man — and cringing at how the show inadvertently plays into President Trump's fevered immigration nightmare, you will likely ask yourself is 24: Legacy's villain Bin-Khalid based on a real terrorist? Spoilers ahead for the Fox show. The fictional man, whose death led his group of followers to kill a military squadron partially in his name, certainly seems to be inspired, at least in part, by Osama bin Laden.
Despite his death in 2011, bin Laden remains the inspiration for American nightmares about the threat of terrorism. Much like the real life terrorist, Bin-Khalid does not have to be seen to command fear. Viewers are informed Carter and his squadron killed Bin-Khalid off screen before the series begins, but each of them is placed under government protection. It is established early on the man's reach goes far beyond death as those loyal to his mission kill Carter's fellow soldiers one by one in search of a strong box, and to avenge their leader's death. Also, like bin Laden, Bin-Khalid's followers kill indiscriminately. They have no problem murdering the children, wives, or other family members of their targets in order to get what they want.
There are also shades of ISIS throughout the first episode. Even without a unifying leader, the agents have found a way to spread their message of terror, recruiting at least one student, a teacher, and possibly members of the United States government. As in real life, the memory of a bin Laden like figure proves to be just as a lethal as a living, breathing man when it comes to splinter groups of terrorist cells forming in the wake of his death.
24: Legacy is wise not to explicitly link their villain to a real terrorist, past or present. While it impossible not to see shades of past terrorist leaders and attacks in the story, having Carter fight a fictional enemy helps separate the series from real life tragic events. Just like the original 24, which premiered shortly after 9/11, the current incarnation of the series is premiering in precarious times, but for very different, much more political reasons.
Thankfully, there is no real Bin-Khalid. He is simply a shadow of bin Laden and the terrorists organizations he spawned. The sprawling intricacies of a government level terrorist infiltration is pure fiction, as is the show's less torture happy hero, Carter. While Bin-Khalid and his followers will definitely remind viewers of the dark legacy of bin Laden, 24: Legacy avoids tying its villain too closely to any infamous terrorist, allowing the show to remain an action adventure tale about one man facing off against a covert, terrorist infiltration at the highest levels of government.