Osama bin Laden, alleged mastermind of the destructive attacks on the World Trade Center and other sites in the United States, was said to have been killed Monday in a U.S. raid on his compound in the city of Abbottabad in Pakistan. President Barack Obama made the announcement. Bin Laden was identified by facial recognition. He had been shot in the head.
Bin Laden's body was swiftly buried at sea, according to the Associated Press. The body was dumped at sea because, officials said, no country would accept the remains. As far as I can figure out from a map, Abbottabad is about 500 miles from the nearest sea. The New York Times reported bin Laden's body was taken to Afghanistan and later buried at sea. Swift disposal of the body, which Obama said was in accordance with Sharia law, saves Bin Laden's enemies from the pomp and circumstance that might accompany a martyr's funeral.
While giving Obama a political boost in economic and political hard times, the story feels thin as it currently stands. Perhaps in time there will be a photo -- the kind of photo that accompanied Che Guevara's death.
But the central impact will be on the western willingness to demonize a man who was used as a symbol of Middle Eastern discontent with western incursions. Now the demon is dead, but it is pretty clear that the demon lives on. Whom will the West demonize when its presence continues to arouse anger and sorrow? How will it prop up its excuses for war when one of the brightest lights among those excuses was this single man who twisted the Koran to suit his agenda?
According to Al Jazeera:
Hours after Obama made the announcement, a top al-Qaeda ideologue promised revenge for bin Laden's death. The commentator, going by the online name Assad al-Jihad2 posted on websites a long eulogy for the al-Qaeda leader and promised to "avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam".The first thought into my head when reading the story of bin Laden's death was a recollection of a quote from Richard Nixon who blamed the press for his losing a gubernatorial bid in California in 1962:
The Pakistani Taliban also threatened attacks against government leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan army and the United States.
"Now Pakistani rulers, President Zardari and the army will be our first targets. America will be our second target," Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
I leave you gentleman now and you will write it. You will interpret it. That's your right. But as I leave you I want you to know — just think how much you're going to be missing. You won't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference and it will be one in which I have welcomed the opportunity to test wits with you.
We won't have the much-nourished nightmare of bin Laden to kick around any more.
Time to create a new and improved nightmare, I guess.