Wednesday, May 18, 2011




There is no doubt that the infamous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 constituted the most definitive moment in modern history. On that frenetic day the world stood still; frozen in time as gruesome memories were etched in our collective psyches for eternity. It was on that day that an elusive, shadowy figure named Osama bin Laden, (who hitherto was considered a parenthetical nemesis) was suddenly and unceremoniously plucked from historical obscurity and catapulted head first into the global amphitheater.

In the days and weeks to follow, we learned of such organizations as al-Qaeda and the Taliban; predicated on a doctrine of religious fanaticism and unadulterated hatred for all things Western; namely the United States. The names and motives seemed more enigmatic to us than the countries in which they originated in, but there was one thing we knew: The man at the helm of this agglomeration of barbaric zealots was responsible for the murder of close to 3000 Americans and it was he that represented an existential peril to the freedoms and liberties that we hold so dear.

So now, it is close to 10 years later, and the wretched life of Osama bin Laden has finally been snuffed out through the legendary doughtiness of US Navy SEALS in a far away compound in Pakistan. Six days after the 9/11 attacks, a reporter queried then President George W. Bush if he wanted bin Laden dead. “I want him — I want justice,” the president answered. “And there’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’” We can take some comfort in knowing that the last face that bin Laden saw before his long awaited demise was that of an American serviceman. Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed bin Laden displaying an unabashed insouciance towards the righteous indignation of the US and the free world in a series of grotesque videos that he's released. While endlessly taunting his American adversary; he has also launched acrimonious salvos that are replete with clear indications of future attacks of this magnitude.

While President Obama can use this as a feather in his cap for his re-election bid and bolster his flagging ratings in the foreign policy department, we know that timing is a strange thing and only through a fortuitous confluence of events did US intelligence ultimately pinpoint bin Laden's location and exact long awaited justice. On that note, Pakistan has a lot of explaining to do as it has been revealed that they knew of bin Laden's whereabouts for years while remaining criminally mum on the subject and playing a sinister double game with the United States.

Despite the jubilant news that this foreboding paradigm of evil incarnate has been eradicated, it would be foolhardy to believe that bin Laden's brainchild, namely al-Qaeda, was buried along next to him the North Arabian sea. Al-Qaeda is alive and well, as we've so painfully learned during our military involvement in Iraq. We need only turn our heads to the deadly civil strife plaguing Libya to comprehend that al-Qaeda cells have created an unholy partnership with the NATO backed rebel forces. Only the politically myopic would promulgate the erroneous and dangerous notion that the killing of bin Laden is tantamount to the final chapter of al-Qaeda history and those that emulate their pernicious ethos.

We must remain cognizant of the fact that al-Qaeda will maintain its status as a multinational purveyor of terrorism unless the US remains vigilant in their quest to do real battle with this seemingly intractable foe. At this juncture, we're riding a superlative wave of national pride and inspiration. Let's capitalize on this euphoria, lest we backslide into complacency by listening to the inexhaustably loquacious liberal rantings of certain political pundits and other opinionistas with a skewed perspective on justice.

Al-Qaeda, under bin Laden's leadership, has declared the entire world as fair territory in their holy war against those "recalcitrant" infidels. Let us remember the tourist spots that were bombed in Bali and the passenger trains that were likewise bombed in Spain. Let us never forget the 17 sailors murdered on the USS Cole warship in 2000 and the scores of other US military personnel who were murdered in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Let us remember that prior to 9/11, al-Qaeda was implicated in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, an aborted plot to hijack a dozen jets, the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and a plan to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters and murder President Bill Clinton. Let us also take heed of the fact that al-Qaeda operatives have successfully insinuated themselves into the fabric of the very Western culture that they ostensibly abhor, utilizing technological advancements to further their objectives of global domination.

Case in point: Reports reveal that bin Laden issued "fatwas" (religious decrees) by fax as he lived a purportedly Muslim ascetic existence while declaring his war on Americans through an e-mail that he had beamed by satellite around the world. His al-Qaeda members routinely communicate through encrypted messages on their computers and use CDs to store their bomb-making manuals. Let's face the cold, hard facts. We're not exactly dealing with a rag tag cadre of rogues who are running the revolution from an undisclosed boiler room.

Osama bin Laden is finally dead but the task of extricating his legacy and ridding the world of the evil that he wrought will be a protracted and sometimes grueling battle. Persistence is the key; as we just saw before our very eyes. It took the United States 10 years to "get" bin Laden and it may take many more years to enitrely vanquish his terrorist acolytes, but it is incumbent all of us in the free world to try. Our lives and the lives of our children depend on it.

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