The killing of OBL is a significant event politically and psychologically. It will not have any detrimental impact on the operations of Al-Qa’eda, however, because that amorphous group does not need a leader and has not had a centralized command-and-control structure for a decade. We should not expect a single retaliatory terrorist assault by “Al-Qa’eda.” A series of uncoordinated revenge attacks by its autonomous affiliates and self-styled offshoots is more likely. OBL was merely one small segment of a global phenomenon which he neither controlled nor wanted to run. Its decentralized character is a lasting testimonial to his pernicious talent.
Bin Laden’s death was well deserved. He was an evil man, inspired by an evil ideology and serving evil ends by evil means. In practical terms, however, his death does not make us safer. It is more likely to give an impetus to Islamic terrorism than to deflate it. He is now a martyr and an icon for thousands of Muslim boys memorizing Kuranic verses in Peshawar, shooting rockets in Cyrenaica, or surfing the Net in Leicester, Dearborn or Marseilles. This may be a good thing because the zeal of the self-starters—especially those living in the Western world—will make some of them careless and vulnerable. Having an opportunity to nab them while they are stirred is preferable to letting them remain invisible. Innocent lives will be lost, however.
On the plus side, Bin Laden’s death lays bare the ambiguous relationship between the United States and Pakistan and the pernicious nature of the Pakistani military intelligence service (ISI) which has sheltered him for years. Pakistan is a poor country in which very few people can afford a fortified compound containing a 4,000 sq. ft. mini-castle with concrete walls 18” thick. That monstrosity was purpose-built for OBL a hundred yards from the main gate of the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan’s West Point. We know that Pakistan’s top brass knew, and they know that we know. This should make various necessary policy adjustments easier.
For those who know the Muslim mindset, the rapid emergence of a spate of amazingly elaborate conspiracy theories, within hours of President Obama’s announcement, is unsurprising. They boil down to the claim that the lack of photographs and the hasty “sea burial” indicate there is more than meets the eye, and the DNA claim based on his sister’s brain is rubbish This is absurd, of course. If OBL were still alive and at large, all he’d need to do is produce a video tape of himself holding the front page of today’s New York Times announcing his death, pass it on to Al Jazeera, and make a fool of Obama and the U.S. This will not happen, because he IS dead.
A significant segment of the Islamic world will not accept this as fact because the Muslim mind functions differently to that of us infidels. It rejects the notion that the universe is logically ordered because this would suggest a blasphemous limitation on the sovereign will of Allah. He cannot be “obliged” to observe any rational order to the universe, SEALs or no SEALs. Since no secondary causes are possible, no relations of cause and effect are operational. OBL is alive until it is demonstrated that it was Allah’s will that he should die at all, and especially at the hands of them dirty kufr.
They will believe OBL is alive because it is absurd. Nothing short of turning Kaaba into molten magma will change their minds.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.