It's Finally the Beginning
of the End for al-Qaeda
Ladenís death and the pro-democratic revolutions knocking consecutive Arab
leaders off of their seats of power constitute a true beginning of the end for
the radical, medieval, imperial and dictatorial ideas with which al-Qaeda
proposed to reorganize the world."
An old and somewhat haggard looking man identified as Osama bin Laden watches himself on television, from a screen grab on a video tape found in his Pakistan hide out. It was one a a series of videos released by the Pentagon, part of a trove of data found in the raid to kill or capture him.
In the fight against
terrorism symbols are of fundamental importance. Al-Qaeda will continue and
will probably launch yet many attacks, but 2011 is the beginning of its end.
Al-Qaeda was decimated in 2001,
when, to Osama bin Ladenís surprise, the Americans attacked Afghanistan and drove
al-Qaeda from its bases in that country. Soon afterwards, several important
leaders of the organization were captured in Pakistan and several others died were
killed in attacks, among others, in Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
Osama bin Laden, who for
years has been so seriously ill that he needed several surgical operations,
removed himself from the day-to-day management of the organization. He couldn't
use cell phones and organizing meetings with subordinates became extremely
Most important for al-Qaeda
was to keep him alive. Every few months, a new video message from Osama would
appear on the Internet, always containing a reference to some recent
occurrence, in order to make it clear that bin Laden was alive and monitoring
Al-Qaeda was perfectly aware
that Washington had never given up the search for Osama. The fact that he was situated
300km from the Afghan border proves that the organization was afraid for his
life and kept him away from areas known to be within range of American Special
That he was found by the Americans
just several dozen kilometers from Islamabad means that al-Qaeda can no longer
rely on a safe hiding spot anywhere in Pakistan. Americans not only sent a
group of Navy SEALS deep into Pakistan territory; they did so without incurring
any losses. The image of Osama, who was always photographed near or with a
rifle at his side, was thus further undermined.
Osama bin Laden couldn't have
been concealed so deeply in Pakistan without the knowledge, consent and
protection of Pakistanís ubiquitous military intelligence, the ISI. According
to diplomatic wires recently disclosed by WikiLeaks, Americans consider ISI a veritable
On the other hand, the Sunday
raid in Abbottabad could not have happened without the knowledge and approval
of at least some pro-Western ISI officials. According to unconfirmed reports,
it was the ISI who first informed the Americans on Osamaís hideout.
This is an ominous sign for
al-Qaeda, since it means that yet another country has ceased being a safe haven
for the group. During the coming weeks, al-Qaeda will certainly try to prove
that it remains a serious force. But bin Ladenís death and the pro-democratic
revolutions knocking consecutive Arab leaders off of their seats of power
constitute a true beginning of the end for the radical, medieval, imperial and
dictatorial ideas with which al-Qaeda proposed to reorganize the world.
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