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Thoughts on bin Laden

I’m going to pass on putting any links to the story, everyone everywhere is reporting on it (even ESPN).  But anyways, after following the story, here are my takeaways (feel free to disagree in the comments area):

  • Did Pakistani intelligence know where bin Laden was?  Pakistani officials are saying no.  If they did know, did they eventually tip us off?  Reports from unnamed US officials say we tracked bin Laden down on our own.  There are folks guessing that perhaps the Pakistanis threw us a bone on bin Laden to cut down on drone strikes.
  • Rumors out there that we recovered two computers from the compound.  Hopefully no one there thought to destroy the computers and we recovered them intact.  The intelligence gains from his records could be huge.
  • If the CIA really has been on the trail of bin Laden’s courier, then there have to be a long list of other places he has been that we are now prepared to investigate/attack.
  • The government has properly raised warnings and threat levels.  My opinion is that there may be poorly planned, ineffective attacks over the next few weeks abroad, but I’d be surprised if a major attack occurs soon.  Al Qaeda has been trying to hit us again for ten years.  If they have an opportunity, why would they wait on it?  I just cant envision a “on the day I die, you finally attack” pact.
  • If I were the Taliban, I would consider announcing a formal break with al Qaeda this week and making a play at rapprochement with the US.  That strikes me as the path of least resistance for them to regain legitimacy to govern Afghanistan.  Of course, Mullah Omar has stayed loyal to al Qaeda this long, and there are probably plenty of financial incentives for that alliance to continue.
  • I think talk of this locking up Obama’s reelection are silly.  It will still be the economy that determines that, a la George H. W. Bush.
  • I really, really hope nothing surfaces involving the US doing anything unprofessional with the body.  Funny to joke about, but unbecoming.  Some reports saying the body has already been buried at sea after Saudi Arabia declined to take it back.
  • Ayman al Zawahiri, you’re next.
  • Given the marginalization of al Qaeda throughout the Arab Spring, 2011 really isn’t going well for al Qaeda.  If you are a frustrated Arab young person, how does martyrdom for al Qaeda list as more appealing than participating in the popular protests around the region?

3 Responses

  1. I do not agree that Arab Spring has marginalized Al Qaeda. They are two very different methods for political change and only comparable in that they both want change. Al Qaeda is a global terrorist organization who wants US out of Saudi Arabia and other Arab political issues, wants the Saudi oil and wants a nonsecular arab existence. Basically, they want to change the US dominated framework of international relations. The Arab Spring, well, they want change in their standard of living and their civil liberties.

    Your personal gut hypothesis that to a frustrated Arab young person, Al Qaeda martydom is not appealing. I argue that the popular young person and an Al Qaeda terrorist still have the same historical experience of being colonized by the west but do not share the same political Islamic outlook. One of the significant events taking placing in Arab spring is that people’s identities are changing. People whose lives were shaped by the dictators have been stripped of that, and they are in a identity vacuum. Their new experiences will fill this new void, and if they are not satisfied with secularist, political protest, then sure their new identity will go another way. Will it lean all the way to martyrdom? It most certainly can.

    How does martyrdom for Al Qaeda list as more appealing than participating in the popular protests around the region? Again, I don’t think there is one or the other. I think Arab Spring will create a new revolutionary thought between Arab Spring and Al Qaeda martyrdom. It will be violent but not based on jihad.

    I think Al Qaeda greatly influences the Arab Spring protestors and will pull some toward them. Just because Osama Bin Laden was killed, does not mean the writings of Qutb have disappeared. In the context of the vanguard that Qutb called out for, Osama Bin Laden was just one of many to come. Furthermore, there will be a new generation of fighters based on the messages of Osama Bin Laden.

    I guess the argument is how fine is the line between being a Arab Spring protestor and becoming an Al Qaeda terrorist? I don’t think those are the only two choices, but Al Qaeda significantly influences those protesting. It gives the protestors the example of challenging the domestic political system and international regime. The Arab spring protestors want democracy, but they will understand soon enough, when they are in leadership positions, how convoluted their politics become by the international regime.

    Yvonne Varela

  2. NO wait. i was correct the first time. It’s late. zzzz

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