Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Osama’s Death Doesn’t Mean the End of War


Osama’s Death Doesn’t Mean the End of War

It is good to take a sigh of relief on Osama’s death but victory against terrorism is yet to be achieved

With the eruption of news on the death of Osama bin Laden, within a blink of eye my facebook page was filled with links, opinions and information about his death. I started receiving SMSs on my cell phone regarding Osama's death and TV channels started giving Breaking news about this. At first, many people around me did not believe the news as true and termed them as 'rumors.' But they had to believe it, when United Stated President Barack Obama late Sunday, officially confirmed bin Laden's killing by a team US Special Forces in his compound in Abbottabad of Pakistan. Bin Laden's death electrified people around the world – specifically in America. Like 9/11, the news about bin Laden's death made headlines all over the world and articles on Osama's early life, his adoption of radicalism and anti-America sentiments, 9/11 and other attacks masterminded by him and finally his death after almost a decade of efforts of America and its allies were published on medias. Osama has been killed but the question that remains is: does his death mean end to war against terrorism?

Apparently it seems like with death of bin Laden, terrorism has been defeated but in reality it is not so. Osama has died but has left behind thousands of other Osamas. The killing of Osama does not bring an end to the counter-terrorism war. War will have to continue. If the US and its allies become overly optimistic after targeting Osama, Al Qaida which has now vastly expanded itself would easily launched attacks on them. The expansion of Al Qaida has been more independent than reliant on Osama bin Laden. In other words, after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and success Osama to escape from Tora Bora Mountains to the tribal areas of Pakistan, he has remained rather a symbolic figure than active leader of al Qaida network. So, the death of Osama does not lead us to the end of war against terrorism but this war needs to be fought for longer period of time as terrorism has not remained limited to Bin Laden personally.

Al Qaida, no doubt, no more exists as a major threat in Afghanistan but has rooted in many other countries of the world. Although the spring uprising in the Arab world has majorly sidelined Al Qaida and death of its founder means another shock for it, it does not mean the world is no longer under threat. Ayman al-Zawahri, originally from Egypt, is considered No. 2 leader of al Qaida and since long has played a crucial role in Al Qaeda's operations. AQIM, the version of Al Qaeda in North Africa, is a real threat in countries like Mali and Mauritania, and killing bin Laden will probably have negligible consequences there. The AQIM terrorists may admire Osama and be inspired by him, but they also are believed to be largely independent of him. And Anwar al-Awlaki, the Qaeda-linked terrorist in Yemen, likewise won't be deterred by bin Laden's killing — Awlaki's ability to engage in terrorism will be affected more by the upheavals now taking place in Yemen and whether that country has a strong and legitimate government that takes counter-terrorism seriously.

If Osama had been killed in year 2002 or 2003, it would matter more than present. It looks like the death of Osama has come very late. In the years 2001 and 2003 in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, many ordinary people had a very high regard for bin Laden and doubted that he was centrally involved in the 9/11 attacks. Over the time that views has changed. Popular opinion has moved more against him, and you no longer see Osama t-shirts for sale in the markets. Some people still feel a bit of respect for his ability to outwit the United States, or they are so anti-American that they embrace anybody Americans do not like, but bin Laden has been marginalized over time. In a gradual manner, from a lay man's perspective, Osama's impression went changing negatively.

Over the last decade the image of Osama has drastically decreased. It seems very improbable that people in the Muslim countries would regard him as a martyred. For people in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan the killing of Osama is no more than killing of terrorist. Majority in these countries like other nations of the world consider him the murderer of thousands of people and not even a Muslim. The people would not be inspired by Osama's death as they could have been in 2002-2003.

In regards condition in Afghanistan too, Osama's death is not going to bring any specific change. Since the Taliban who are still paying for sheltering Osama and his team in Afghanistan during their government, do not rely on Bin Laden physically but ideologically. Today they have varying control and influence over a significant number of provinces of Afghanistan and are giving hard time to US led NATO forces. The recent activities by Taliban that include infiltration into Afghan army and police ranks, prison break, suicide bombing and targeted killings clearly signal their strength that becomes more obvious as the season goes warmer.
Osama will no more launch terror attacks on the US or in any other parts of the world. In spite of knowing that his death would not bring any change to world until more efforts are put, we must admit that he is the man who caused the world to politically and economically change. After the 9/11, the United States and its allies rewrote their security doctrines, struggling to adjust from Cold War-style confrontation between states to a new brand of transnational "asymmetric warfare" against small cells of Islamist militants.

The mess Osama bin Laden has left behind needs to be cleaned. For this purpose the world needs to continue the war on terror until it is rooted out. It is good to take a sigh of relief on Osama's death but victory against terrorism is yet to be achieved.

Sher Ali yecha is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan and Writes on National and International issues. He can be reached through mail@outlookafghanistan.com

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