Thursday, May 5, 2011

Osama Bin Laden's Dead. Now What?

Osama Bin Laden the most prolific terrorist of our time is dead. The face of Al Qaeda was shot in the chest and in the head just above his left eye blowing away part of his skull and partially exposing his brain. It surely must have been a gruesome sight, but also an eerily appropriate departure for the man responsible for the torture, maiming and deaths of thousands of innocent people. As parts of the world rejoice with a sense of relief that Bin Laden, who have evaded capture for so long, finally got what he deserved, I couldn’t help but ponder – is the world really safer now that Osama Bin Laden is dead?
I vividly remember the day of September 11. I remember where I were, the shock and disbelieve I felt and waking up the next morning knowing that the world have irrevocably changed. But 9/11 wasn’t the only horrific act of terror by Al Qaeda. I also recall with sadness the embassy bombing in Nairobi, bombings in London, Madrid, Bali and the ghastly beheading of Nick Berg; All unspeakable acts of terror by a group of people with no conscious, no sense of humanity and people of indescribable cruelty. All people who swore their allegiance to a man who was once praised by the United States as a good Muslim. You see, Bin Laden wasn’t always a monster and an enemy. Bin Laden played a pivotal role in defeating the Russians during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a war that would last ten years. It’s almost unimaginable to think that Osama Bin Laden was once a friend of the West, and spoken off in high esteem.

There was a time, a brief time, that Bin Laden was an ally. Bin Laden and his people were provided with training and weapons and they became skilled warriors; warriors who fought for the cause of the West in defeating Communism. Little did the United States know, at the time, that in just a few years their friend will turn on them and that they have created a monster. A ruthless monster that would kill the very people that trained him, kill them with the same weapons, the same skill and the same tenacity. A monster that they would spend years hunting down at the expense of many lives. A monster that would become an iconic figure and later a martyr for the Radical Muslim’s Jihad. In hindsight I am sure there must have been clues, but then again everything always seems clearer in hindsight doesn’t it? So should the world blame the United States for creating the most wanted and dangerous terrorist of the twenty first century?
I’m not sure how to answer this question. Sure the United States had a hand in initially providing Bin Laden with power; sure they supported him and funded him. But who’s to say that Bin Laden would not have become a terrorist anyway. Clearly he had a disposition towards terror prior to the US fateful intervention. Regardless of who or what were responsible for the rise of the evil that was Bin Laden at least he is dead now, and for that I am grateful. However, I cannot pretend that the celebrations I saw on the news did not horrify me. In the words of the late Martin Luther King “I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even my enemy. Returning hate for hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Watching people celebrate in the streets after it was announced that Bin Laden was killed, did not sit well with me. Sure after 9/11 in certain parts of the world there were celebrations too. It is somewhat distasteful to celebrate the assassination of another human being, no matter how evil, and horrible they were. Celebrating the slaughter of another human being makes us no better than the terrorists. It will rightfully enrage them as we were enraged when we saw them rejoicing at the massive loss of live in the West on that fateful September day. It will perpetuate a cycle of hatred, and we are better than that. A man was killed, a very dangerous man, a murderer, a terrorist but he was still a man albeit an evil one.
There has been massive pressure for proof, in the form of photographs, to be released of Bin Laden’s body. In all honesty, I am one of the people who want to see his dead body for myself. It’s macabre, but it could provide a sense of closure for all those people who have lost loved ones at the hands of Bin Laden. Apparently the images are too graphic, too horrendous and will pose a threat to national security in the US and as a matter a fact pose a threat to the rest of the world as well. Showing a picture of Bin Laden with a massive head wound, shattered skull and partially exposed brain matter will infuriate his supporters and would in all probability lead to violent retaliation. After all Bin Laden is hailed as a martyr now. In the end he did achieve his goal of attaining martyrdom and dying by the sword with which he had lived. With Bin Laden dead and his body decaying in the ocean, is this now the end of Al Qaeda?

The death of Bin Laden, in my opinion, is a symbolic victory in the war against terror. His death will not cripple Al Qaeda and they will not cease to exist. They have lost their leader, the man to which they swore their allegiance - a leader that has died for his cause. He is a martyr to them and a hero. There is no doubt that there will be retaliation, and we should all be vigilant. The world is most definitely not a safer place now that Bin Laden is dead. A new evil will rise and the war will go on, but I trust that in the end we will be the ones that prevail.

Till next time.


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