May 2, 2011

TSG IntelBrief: Osama Bin Laden: Death of a Man, Birth of a Martyr?



In the early hours (Pakistan time) of May 2, 2011, -- and in the late hours of May 1, 2011, U.S. time -  a date which will likely become as iconic as 9/11 - President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was killed near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, following a targeted operation by U.S. Special Forces.  These may have been deployed from Tarbela Ghazi - an area close to bin Laden's villa in Abbottabad - used by U.S. Marines.

The impact of this action will be profound.  The shockwaves will play out across the Islamic world, and might have repercussions on us all.

First reports indicate that bin Laden's house was built some five or six years ago under the noses of the Pakistani government - there will be finger pointing that the powerful Pakistani Intelligence services must have known he was there.

India will doubtless point to the fact that Pakistan was harboring the world's most wanted man, and this shows their inherent lack of trustworthiness in the broader counter-extremist efforts.

Al Qaeda will grieve the loss of their supreme commander, but will revere him as a martyr to the cause of jihad and his dream of the creation of an Islamic Caliphate.

The decentralized nature of al Qaeda, and the existence of regional satellites who  have been operating independently of al Qaeda central, means that many will be likely to continue to operate as usual.

Finally, Colonel Al-Qadhafi and his family, as well as Anwar al–Awlaki in Yemen, will have noted the U.S. attack with concern in Libya.

They will both be contemplating the evidence before their eyes that those whom the U.S. decides to target will indeed receive the justice that the U.S. determines they should receive – however long it might take.

However, we must strike a note of caution.  Although the man is dead, the myth is very much alive and will be a martyr's flag to which Al Qaeda members are likely to continue to rally.


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