May First is bad day for bad guys


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Another bad guy rides off into the sunset of history

Coincidence or plot?  Sixty-Six years to the day after the official announcement of Adolf Hitler’s demise, the world learned that Osama bin Laden died in Pakistan at the hands of Special Forces.  The world does not need  one more opinion on the death of UBL (although my sister seems to think it does), but it is difficult to avoid the subject.  I am conflicted by the news, not by his death, but the celebration of a killing.  There are times when killing a person who represents a threat to thousands of other people appears to be the only course of action.  We kill frequently in war, and occasionally still kill civilian criminals for their crimes. How else can we fight terrorism that has proven it could reach into the heart of country and attack us without killing its leaders?  Still,  it feels strange to me to find joy in killing a person, dancing and singing around the body (okay they do not have the body, apparently no one does but Neptune) in a public square.  Two race-track casinos gave away free food; the manager of one had lost his daughter on 9/11 and said he had been waiting 10 years for this day.  There were spontaneous celebrations in many locations, particularly in locations that suffered direct attacks on 9/11.

Celebrations like those in the United States may be the exception around the world, however, finding anyone that is sorry he is dead is difficult.  I could not find any media outlet that found anything but good news in his exit from the world stage; the one source of mourning over his loss I found came from Hamas, lamenting him as a great Muslim and a martyr, Fatah did not agree. Iran did not bemoan his death, but suggested there were many holes in the American story; however conflicting the details may be Iran declared it is time for Americans to leave the region – the statement did not come from the missing Ahmadinejad or the Ayotollah, it was part of an editorial on Iran TV no word on what the competing leaders think.

The saying, “be careful what you wish for” applies to the last years of bin Laden’s career; Osama changed the world in September 2001.  He captured the imagination and became a symbol of hope to angry and discontented people around the world.  But in the years since, he has lost much of his influence, the American government has hunted him relentlessly since, leaving him little time to do anything but hide.  Osama was the victim of his own success and from his isolation it would appear that he was no more than a figure-head.  He couldn’t lead because he couldn’t communicate and because he had lost touch with the people he spoke for at one time.  It has been over a year since we were lasted treated to one of he famous “tapes.”  When the Arab revolt broke out in Tunisia and the spread across North Africa and into the Persian Gulf without a single comment from Osama it was clear he was no longer directing or a part of anything.  I am going to let the Arab News and Saudi journalist Jamal A. Khashoggi have the last word:

“The news of his killing comes at a time when the Al-Qaeda ideology has been completely rejected by the Arab world. Al-Qaeda was in eclipse … to be very specific it was buried in January 2011 in Tahrir Square in Cairo,” he said, referring to the massive people’s movement that swept aside longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak.

“In a sense it is the right ending for Osama because the recent development in the Arab world clearly indicated that there was no place for him or his ideology,” said Khashoggi. “The rise of the nonviolent movement in the Arab world was the complete rejection of the Al-Qaeda philosophy.”

Khashoggi said he felt sorry that Bin Laden chose the wrong path when he was at the crossroads of history. “He hijacked our religion and chose the path of violence. I remember how we were all in the grip of violence in the early and mid-2000s, here in Saudi Arabia, Algeria … there were suicide bombings, bomb blasts, killings. His ideology did not conform with my understanding of Islam,” he said.

Khashoggi said had Bin Laden been a good reader of history and if he had had a chance to go on air he would have definitely admitted defeat after the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt. “The Arab youth took the path of nonviolence to effect change in their countries. Nonviolence is in total variance with the Al-Qaeda ideology … Osama and his men believed in violence … nothing but violence — no reconciliation — no dialogue.”

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