The assassination of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in Abbotabad, Pakistan will likely assure Barack Obama’s victory in the 2012 presidential race. Republican hawks will have a hard time pressing their claims that Obama is “soft on terrorism.”
Details about the killing of bin Laden remain obscure. The mission, a joint operation between CIA and Special Forces, appeared to have been mounted from a US-controlled air base in Pakistan – without the advance knowledge of Pakistan’s government. US sources say Osama was shot twice in the head; his son was also killed.
Gleeful Americans are rejoicing that the man credited with the monstrous crime of 9/11 has been killed after a ten year search. More thoughtful ones may stop to ponder the remarkable Quixotic drama of a single man who set out to overturn the mighty American Imperium.
Expect already acid US-Pakistan relations to yet worsen as Americans accuse Pakistan of sheltering bin Laden for a decade. This writer has long said that Bin Laden was in Pakistan, and likely with at least some knowledge of ISI, Pakistani intelligence, though its able former Director General, Hamid Gul, whose word I respect, disputes this claim.
Now, after bin Laden’s death, we may never really know. Dead men tell no tales. Bin Laden long claimed he had no role in 9/11. Yet he certainly gave his approval and support after the fact. Those al-Qaida suspects brutally tortured by CIA into confessions are unreliable sources of evidence that would never stand up in US courts.
One point I want to set to rest: based on my long experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan and with jihadi groups and bin Laden’s mentor and guide, Sheik Azzam, I can say with a high level of assurance that bin Laden never worked for or with CIA, as has been often claimed. They were merely on the same side during the anti-Soviet struggle.
Hunting down bin Laden was, remember, the primary reason for sending US troops to that remote nation. No doubt Taliban and its leader Mullah Omar will be morphed by the US media machine into a bin Laden stand-ins.
North America’s media and the Bush administration wildly exaggerated the menace, strength and reach of al-Qaida, panicking Americans into believing, as the analyst Kevin Phillips wrote, that suburban soccer moms in the deepest Midwest were petrified Osama bin Laden was coming for their kids.
Al-Qaida “affiliates” in North Africa, Arabia, and south Asia are simply small groups of local militants who have taken the al-Qaida brand name without having any organic or communications links to the remnants of the core al-Qaida in Pakistan. They are more a dangerous nuisance than a deadly threat.
Al-Qaida’s number two, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, remains at large and is now titular head of what remains of the organization of which he has been operations chief for many years. Dr. Zawahiri, who was brutally tortured in Egypt, is a dangerous extremist with much blood on his hands and a lust for revenge.
Bin Laden is dead, but bin-Ladenism lives on. Osama’s primary goal was to end Western domination of the Muslim world, and exploitation of its resources, which he claimed were being plundered. The Western-backed dictators, generals and kings that ruled the Muslim world as overseers for foreign interests had to be overthrown proclaimed bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden lived long enough to see the revolutions that he had helped ignite among young people burst into towering flames. In this sense, bin Ladenism will prosper and spread, enhanced by the image of Osama the martyr.
Today, the nearly bankrupt United States is spending hundreds of billons annually waging small wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and the Sahara. Grotesquely overblown military spending and debt addiction are crippling United States. That is why the ghost of bin Laden may be smiling.
To breathe the true air of freedom and democracy you need independent media lungs. Staffed with journalists and political observers not beholden to the status quo.
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