Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lingering concerns: implications on the death of Osama Bin Laden

The last three days have seen- quite justly-much discussion in the world following the Sunday raid on a compound in Abbotobad, Pakistan [Three hour drive outside of Islamabad, the former has been wrongly described by US officials as a "suburb" of Islamabad] that led to the point blank shooting death of a reportedly unarmed Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attack on the US.

Governments and organizations worldwide have rushed to offer their congratulations to President Obama for authorizing the mission, at great political risk, these words of felicitation have even come from political foes, such as Sarah Palin.Spontaneous celebrations were seen outside the White House, in New York at the WTC site, and throughout college campuses and public sites all over the nation.

Bin Laden death changes nothing

The whole world has seemingly been captivated by details of the raid, the living arrangements for the fugitive, and his "respectful" burial at sea. Yet, the truth of the matter is, is that Osama Bin Laden was largely irrelevant to the Muslims! He was widely seen as a perpetrator of violence against not only Western targets, but also against Muslims. Indeed, the ideology he believed in essentially makes Takfeer [declaring Muslims as non Muslims, which, in the view of those making the declarations, justifies their deaths and confiscation of property]. Pakistan has suffered THE most at the hands of these type of ideologies.

Moreover, the Arab world has witnessed great changes. The dictators, both the darlings of Western interests [such as Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zain ul'Abideen Ben 'Ali] as well as their traditional foes [i.e. the maverick "Brother leader" Mu'ammar Al-Qadhdhafi] are basically on their way to the wayside. The peoples of the Arab world have finally realized that they CAN be successful at changing their leaders and changing the system that has, for so long, deprived them of political freedoms, economic opportunities, and social justice. This change was in no way inspired by Bin Laden's views or similar ideologies[ft.1].

Part of the appeal that Bin Laden may have had in the past was two fold [A] He was seen as a Robin Hood type figure, a rich man from a wealthy backround [one needs only be in Saudi Arabia for one hour before seeing the family name on one building or another] who abandoned a comfortable life to join in struggles against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. [B] The undeniable fact that the majority of the Muslim world, and especially the Arab world, has suffered setback after setback, not to mention the usurpation of Palestine, at the expense of native [Arab] Palestinians, leading to constant wars, invasions, military attacks, the disruptions of economies, etc.., coming from outside. A situation that people get tired of.

These problems, briefly outlined in Line "B" above, are still largely unresolved. Indeed, the recent decision by Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to reconcile and form some sort of united government has led to Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to actually say "You cannot have peace with both Israel and Hamas". Kashmir still exists as a problem, which has been unresolved since partition. Western support for dictatorships that crush local aspirations in the hopes of securing Oil interests still pose a problem. Pakistan, while a US ally, still feels the almost daily drone attacks on villages, and Afghanistan still suffers from conflict.

Rather than celebrating the death of a single man, policy makers have to look beyond that, and address the REALISTIC CAUSES THAT ALLOWED SUCH FIGURES TO COME INTO EXISTENCE IN THE FIRST PLACE. {fT 2}

Killing Bin Laden in such a fashion will prove counter-productive

As of date, government officials have not yet announced whether photos of Bin Laden's corpse will be released. There has already been at least two unofficial pictures I have seen, one of which looks nothing like him. Others have made similar observations, and of course there will be conspiracy theories about what happened for years to come. To avoid all of that, it would have been better to capture him alive and have him stand on trial, for the whole world to witness, or at the very least, for the American public.

To just send in a military group into a house, in Pakistan, without the knowledge or permission of Pakistani authorities, shoot him in the head, shoot some others, and then dump his body in the Ocean, appears just as it is, a vigilante' move, one which leaves the door open for revenge by Bin Laden supporters, for more resentment, even for those unsympathetic to Bin Laden, to the US, leading to more and more problems which, quite frankly, the nation cannot afford.

It has been pointed out that he was never officially indited on charges relating to 9/11 in the first place. Be that as it may, he WAS charged in connection to the attack on the USS COLE, as well as the attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He could have stood trial for those!


What's done is done! Nothing can change what happened Sunday in the early hours in Abbotobad. It is our hope that, just as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pointed out, this will lead to the ceasing of air attacks on sites in his nation [and Pakistan as well, we may add], and the end to the war in Iraq. The residents of those nations don't need it, neither do US soldiers need it. The wars have placed an incredible burden, both human and financial, on the United States. It is only in the best interests of all concerned that such ventures cease and desist, so we can have a peaceful world.


[1] One of the videos which started the Egypt protests, leading to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, was that done by a woman, asking viewers to come protest the arrest of some friends and the beating of others. She spoke of "honor" and other such themes, and quoted the Qur'an, urging people to stand up. I have been unable to find this video again, perhaps a reader can find it and post it in the comments section. Regardless, the Takbeer, religious chants and Quranic references were all made at various points by the protesters during the process which ultimately led to the unseating of Mubarak.

[2] While issues surrounding Palestine and other US foreign policy choices are big factors leading to terrorism, other issues include left over resentment of colonialism, local grievances, and- to an great deal, the rise of sectarianism in the Muslim world. The latter is usually blamed on "Wahhabism", being exported by Saudi Arabia to other nations. Heavily focused on theological purity, Neo-Salafis and Pseudo-Salafis have been blamed for much of the problems within Pakistan, wherein Mosques of various sects [Shi'i, Ahmadi and other Sunnis], as well as shrines and religious processions, have suffered both gun and bomb attacks. In the years following the US invasion of 'Iraq, Sunni-Shi'ah warfare was especially tense, although it has died down somewhat in recent times. Many observers have made claims that various Western interests were actually instigating such feuds, and while there may be some truth to this claim, there is no doubt in the mind of this writer that many of these actions were perpetuated by Muslims against other Muslims!