A Cave that Looked Just Like a House

2 05 2011

Just Like in the Video Game

When I heard the news, I was mildly surprised.

Mainly because I had gone to bed last night around 11 PM and missed all the excitement. To be fair, I only found out this morning when I was looking for the baseball results on my Smartphone and saw the headline “Bin Laden’s Death – How Will This Affect Sport.” This confused me for some seconds as I was trying to work out which governing body in sport he was involved with and much as though I dislike FIFA’s Sepp Blatter, I was fairly confident that the worlds greatest hide and seek player was not involved with the Beautiful Game.

But once the news had filtered through my brain, followed by several cups of coffee, ten minutes of self-congratulatory reporting by CNN followed by an hour of measured BBC analysis then all I could think was “so he wasn’t hiding in a cave in Afghanistan after all.”

And to be fair to Afghanistan, they had been saying this for some time. In fact they actually said that he was living in a mansion in Pakistan and that if you asked the right people, they would probably be able to point to his front door.

So yesterday, after an operation that had been planned since August of last year and was so secretative that not even the Republican Party had time to consider whether to say No or not, an elite team of Navy SEALs (not led by Charlie Sheen) went to a fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and engaged in a firefight with the inhabitants of this building.

One of whom turned out to be Osama Bin Laden. Killed not in a cave or a library with a candlestick but in a dingy room next to a kitchen by concentrated firepower and in a scenario straight out of Call of Duty.

Apparently the highly trained special forces team were conducting a routine search of the compound and walked into a room, found Bin Laden, recognized him (which was a bonus), told him to surrender and, when he refused, opened fire on a man who had been a constant pain in the arse for some time.

Ten years it has taken to bag and tag Bin Laden. Ten years in which an obscure terrorist organization has become a byword for Islamic extremism and it’s leader a shadowy figure feared by many and idolised by some.

Ten years in which thousands of people have lost their lives, ten years in which civil liberties have been bypassed to ensure that the threat of terrorism is never far from our minds.

Ten years in which the USA has made one man their number one target and ten years in which the justification for actions against those suspected of terrorism or extremist acts has been that continued vigilance is the only way to counter the threat.

Osama Bin Laden is no longer a threat. His body has already been disposed of (in accordance with Islamic Law) and has been apparently “buried at sea.”

To the American people, it appears that justice has been done. Dubya promised that Bin Laden would be captured either dead or alive and yesterday’s operation by US soldiers on Pakistan soil brought this chapter of terrorism to a close. Al-Queda and the Taliban have already vowed to seek revenge for the death of this iconic figure who now achieves the martyrdom that his followers wished for –  Osama now gets to go to heaven and discuss his ideologies with other respected religious figures, presumably with some virgins on standby.

The death of Osama Bin Laden will be celebrated in the West, but his legacy leaves a country still at war with forces in the Middle East and a terrorist organization that has matured in the last ten years. It leaves an ideology that has inspired thousands and will continue to attract new recruits.

When we thought he was hiding in a cave, he could be a symbol of fear and and the poster-boy for Jihad. He was the face of The War on Terror, he was a real-life Voldemort. He was one man.

In Greek mythology, the hydra was a creature that grew two heads when you cut off one. The US operation in Pakistan may have achieved its primary goal, but ten years of concentration on one man may have blinded them to the obvious. Bin Laden was the figurehead of Al-Queda, his removal just means that others will take his place.

Let’s just see where the next ten years takes us.




One response

3 05 2011

Heard he was an Arsenal fan and had been to a game

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