Some have argued for a long time now that killing bin Laden was not worth it. I think is has always been worth the billions of dollars spent, and sadly, the lives lost. It is true that his death will not end terrorism, but it is a blow to that superhero image he has amongst jihadist. And timing is perfect. Just when one of the excuses for attacking and killing innocents was that “the West” (whoever they are, because they also attacked Bali, part of Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country in the world) have been supporting autocratic regimes and ruthless dictators likeEgypt’s Mubarak. The Arab Spring has played down this propaganda tool'”despite the fact that it was supposedly praised by bin Laden.
It is true that al-Qaeda has diminished its power and presence throughout the world, as its monetary capabilities. Without bin Laden’s connections and power among some wealthy Arabs, and without his mysticism and popular connection, it could prove even more daunting to generate funds for their terrorist causes.
Bin Laden, in these last years, became more of an inspirational figure than an actual recruiter for jihad'”though still plotting and planning attacks, but with less power and traction. People saw how this man created the worst terrorist attack the world has seen, and evaded the world’s most sophisticated and prestigious army and intelligence agencies for more than a decade. Now that he’s gone, gunned down by American forces, it certainly has to have negative impact on the moral of his loyalists'”regardless if they promise for revenge; they always want revenge for whatever reason they find.
His death also matters because the American intelligence community’s image was shattered. Not being able to prevent 9/11 and not being able to capture its mastermind; the trust it had was very low, and its prestige damaged. The way they captured “Geronimo” gave them the status it was known for in the 20th Century.
It also revealed the true politics in Pakistan. While billions of American dollars pours into the regime, truth is that the military is the one that governs the country, and the civilian government is merely a puppet. It is also impossible that bin Laden was living there without the knowledge and protection of important military agents. It is time to revise this alliance. Kabul is still essential in the fight against terrorism, but cannot be playing both sides at the same time, and sadly, the US needs Afghanistan more than Afghanistan needs the US.
The operation that killed Osama was not completely illegal in international law. US forces violated the sovereignty of a UN member, true. But there are times, unfortunately, that this illegality becomes justified, and in this case, it did. That same UN member was protecting and housing the most wanted terrorist in the world. This is an unconventional war, a zero-sum one. You either go for it or lose it, regardless of legalities.
Terrorism is far from over. Jihadist nowadays don’t need training camps to attack and kill innocent people. Recruiting and training is now being done over the Internet'”call it terrorism 2.0. But with the death of the world’s most dangerous terrorist, it proves not only a moral blow to al Qaeda, it is also a call for justice and relief.
Just knowing that the responsible of thousands of deaths is no longer alive and breathing, no longer calling his pals to get more funds, no longer planning attacks… that is priceless and worth every fight. Who’s next on the list?