He’s dead. May 2ndwill be a day which is ingrained in world history. Osama bin Laden was involved in major terrorist atrocities throughout the globe. He has finally been silenced; almost a decade after the 9/11 attacks. We should applaud the courage and professionalism of the United States forces for being able to track down and plan the assassination of the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks. The audacious helicopter attack and Special Forces raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan has shown that armed with excellent intelligence- justice can be swift.
Al-Qaeda and its associates have been dealt two potentially lethal blows in the last few months. The first being the Arab Spring; the popular movement for democracy and dignity in the Middle East. The second major blow being the arrest of high-value operatives from Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The popular revolutions in the Middle East have sucked the life out of the Jihadi movement. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have tried to get support from Muslim populations, but they never wanted to connect with radical Islamism when it acted as a political movement. The people certainly didn’t support Islamism as a jihadi movement. The clash of civilisations didn’t occur. Bin Laden’s real support was largely synthetic, in the eyes of Western media who hyperventilated when looking at Pew polls from the Muslim world. In reality the support was actually quite small. However, his impact on international relations and events was immense. Jihadi violence continues to box well above its political weight.
State support for the bin Laden networks shouldn’t be overlooked. The Pakistani lobby in the US and Europe are already playing down Pakistan’s culpability in sheltering bin Laden. Their spinning will mainly fall on deaf ears in future. Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US will feel ostracised and his lobbyists, which are made up of ex-CIA figures, think-tanks and former US diplomatic staff; will feel very dejected in the Beltway in Washington D.C. The inability of the majority of terrorism experts to link al-Qaeda to a wider state intelligence and political networks has been a major problem which has often affected policy. Pakistan is, and always was, the main epicentre of global terrorism and President Obama’s national security team has been vindicated this week.
The Indian government officials and opinion makers, who are accused of a natural bias against Pakistan, have often claimed that former Chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence Hamid Gul and others in the Pakistani security establishment have been sheltering bin Laden and his associates. It is still early days, but they appear to have been vindicated. They told us so. Wikileaks’ Gitmo Files has also showed us the duplicity and cowardice of the Bush era for failing to take Pakistan to task even when they covertly labelled Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as akin to a terrorist organisation. President Obama should be applauded for publicly challenging the cowardice of the Bush national security team and the diplomats under them.
In light of the democratic revolutions in the Middle East the Muslim Brotherhood has taken a major blow to its status. Osama bin Laden and leading figures in al-Qaeda were members of the supposedly ‘moderate’ Islamist fundamentalist group. The Muslim Brothers mainly recieve public backing for being an opposition movement to the corrupt regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. Egyptians had only two choices, but now Mubarak has gone things have changed.
The Muslim Brothers will become ostracised because they played little role in the peaceful uprisings in Tahrir Square. They missed their opportunity to seize the moment because they are out of step with the national psyche and the immerging body politic in the Middle East. However, they still have immense financial backing from rich Gulf States and is increasingly receiving overtures from Turkey. They will have to conform to a new political landscape in Egypt. They will have little choice but to moderate and start providing real answers to social, economic and cultural problems.
The second major development which effects al-Qaeda and global jihad is the capture of Umar Patek, an Indonesian who is linked to the Bali bombings in 2002. Patek was also linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah/Kompak network in Southeast Asia.A network which we’ve previously wrote about in-depth. It was setup by the late Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Muslim Aid UK and al-Haramain, two Islamic charities helped to provide logistics and cover. The network has connections in Pakistan and Western Europe. Patek was arrested in Abbottabad, the same town which Osama bin Laden has now made infamous, in January earlier this year.
Tahir Shehzad was also arrested in Abbottabad. He is an al-Qaeda facilitator in same area; working in a post-office in Abbottabad.He is a Pakistani national. It must be pointed out that Pakistan authorities successfully arrest the pair through careful intelligence work which came from a CIA tip-off. Shehzad is believed to have been one of the major links which helped to lead to the arrest of Patek and the final US assault on Osama bin Laden. I’m guessing that the international media, Australia especially, will soon begin to focus sharply on Umar Patek and his ability to evade capture since 2002. The reaction of the Pakistani and Indonesian governments to these developments will be crucial to understanding the development of the modern jihadi phenomenon.
The evidence that bin Laden was sheltering in the heart of Pakistan raises more questions than answers. Pakistan’s long-term support for al-Qaeda and their control of the Afghan-Arabs should be put under greater scrutiny especially its role in supporting global jihad in the Balkans and Central Asia during the 1990s. Bin Laden came to Afghanistan in 1996 and took over Pakistan’s international brigades in the following year. Bin Laden’s interference in Pakistani elections in the 90s must also be looked at in greater detail. The duplicity and claims for Pakistan’s strategic depth should now cause the country great embarrassment. Pakistan runs on conspiracy theories. It will be interesting how far-right media personalities try to spin the news of bin Laden being killed in a Pakistani garrison town.
Monday was a great day for countering the threat of revolutionary Islamism. It will make the world safer in the long run, not just because Osama bin Laden is dead, but it raises serious question about Pakistan’s continuing support for the development of the Afghan-Arabs. Haqqani and Hekmatyar’s network are both believed to be controlled by the ISI. They have enjoyed support since the early 1970s when they raged against Pakistan’s enemies in Afghanistan years before the Soviet invasion. Pakistan moderates who are challenging the likes of Hamid Gul, the former DG-ISI need direct Western help and our direct moral support. Pakistan for all its faults has the right to become a good democracy and allow its citizens to live with peace and dignity.
Monday, May 2nd2011 is the day when the court of international opinion helped moderate Pakistanis tip the balance with enough evidence to successfully start to tackle dark forces inside their country. It was the day Pakistan is hopefully going to start its own revolutionary summer. It’s going to be bloody as Jamaat-i-Islami and other al-Qaeda linked political parties have been calling for a counter-Islamic revolution which is an anti-thesis to the majority of Pakistan’s citizens’ hopes. But, with former Pakistani President Musharraf saying that the raid on bin Laden was a, “violation of Pakistani sovereignty, our sensitivity,” it’s obviously going to be an extremely long road. But, one of the major leaders of jihadi terror has been stopped. A good development.