Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Osama's death chapter A closes

WHEN most people thought the
United States had given up the
chase on Osama bin Laden,
reputed leader of al-Qaeda,
President Barack Obama
announced that US forces shot
him dead on Sunday in the Bilal
area of Abbottabad, about 97km
north of Islamabad, the Pakistani
capital.
The helicopter-backed attack was
executed with uttermost secrecy,
an action that can worsen
deteriorating US-Pakistani
relations, especially with the
discovery that Osama lived in the
same neighbourhood with
Pakistan ’s officers corps when its
government kept denying that
Osama was within its borders.
In life or death, Osama who
some intelligence sources said
had died by December 2001
would remain controversial. The
US ’ decision to bury his body at
sea, as it said no country was
willing to accept the corpse, is
another controversy.
Almost 10 years ago, al-Qaeda’s
bombing of the Twin Towers,
Pentagon and an attempt at the
White House crafted 9/11
(September 11 – the date of the
attack) into one of the most
memorable days in history.
September 11 was an
embarrassment to the US, which
discovered how vulnerable it was
within its shores. The attack
killed nearly 3,000 people,
overshadowed earlier al-Qaeda
attacks on US interests, changed
the global concept of security,
including checks on passports
and procedures for air travellers.
Osama remained elusive. Some
saw him in Afghanistan, some in
Pakistan. Others claimed too that
he had died from battle injuries.
Occasional videotaped messages
in his name deepened the
mystery.
“For over two decades, bin Laden
has been al-Qaeda’s leader and
symbol, and has continued to
plot attacks against our country
and our friends and allies. The
death of bin Laden marks the
most significant achievement to
date in our nation ’s effort to
defeat al Qaeda. Yet his death
does not mark the end of our
effort.
There is no doubt that al Qaeda
will continue to pursue attacks
against us. ” Obama told
Americans some of who were
jubilant enough to pour into the
streets.
There are fears of al-Qaeda
attacks in response to Osama’s
death. It may want to warn that
without Osama, whose personal
wealth and business links
provided logistics for al-Qaeda,
the attacks will continue.
Obama tried to assuage feelings
of Muslims. “We must also
reaffirm that the United States is
not – and never will be – at war
with Islam. Bin Laden was not a
Muslim leader; he was a mass
murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-
Qaeda has slaughtered scores of
Muslims in many countries,
including our own. So his
demise should be welcomed by
all who believe in peace and
human dignity, ” he said.
Yet some will question the timing
of the operation and the
implication of US carrying out
ground attacks in Pakistan
without the government ’s
knowledge. This absolute disdain
for its allies is a major flaw of US
foreign policy even in dealings
with Britain, Canada, and
Australia with whom it is
supposed to share intelligence.
Perhaps more disturbing is that
US can – under the guise of its
war against terrorists –
intervene in some Arab countries
where its allies are facing
domestic uprisings.
The death of Osama may close
one chapter, but could open
others as factions of al-Qaeda
could forge on without a central
leadership until they wither
under the challenges of logistics
to sustain their attacks. Vigilance
remains crucial for the world to
deal with al-Qaeda and other
terrorists.

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