Earlier yesterday we saw President Obama’s dramatic announcement that a US led operation in Pakistan resulted in the killing of the elusive Osama Bin Laden. Much coverage has been devoted to the events of 9/11, and the tragic loss of lives of men, women and children. It is Bin Laden’s most heinous act of terror to-date. Yet reports state that it has taken ten years to track him down. Actually it has taken longer. Who can forget the earlier bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 7 August 1998. These events were neither the first nor the most lethal Islamist terrorist strikes that were aimed at Americans. This event prompted a retaliatory strike by President Clinton on 10 August 1998 to specific targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. Bin Laden earned the distinction of being singled out as a declared individual enemy by the US. He declared jihad against the US many times since 1996. His killing may have brought certain closure, relief (however transient), lift the financial markets briefly and deliver certain relief to at least two past-Presidents, General Tommy Franks (who oversaw an unsuccessful operation at Tora Bora to capture or kill Bin Laden in late 2001), and scores of military commanders and personnel, amongst many others in the world.
Yet Bin Laden's legacy cannot be ignored. He was the principal player in a tangled and sinister web of terrorism sponsoring states and networks. There are franchised cells of Islamists who are still committed to a terror agenda. Islamist terrorism has theological as well as ideological roots – a product and consequence of centuries of crisis and confrontation between Islam and Christiandom. (rf Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden – The Man Who Declared War on America (Forum, 1999))
The threat of al-Quaeda may actually be even stronger now, because in the eyes of jihadists Bin Laden has been martyred. Interpol has issued a directive warning of a heightened terror risks. The outgoing CIA director, Leon Panetta, has also alluded to the possibility of reprisals.