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Al Qaeda after bin Laden epos_print_logo.png
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Al Qaeda after bin Laden

 
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 09:07
 
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by Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra (EPOS)
EPOS Insights

It will be naive to believe that the menace of terrorism will wither away with the death of Osama bin Laden in the morning hours of 2nd May 2011. At present juncture it will be difficult to predict what exact course the international terror menace will take in the era after Osama bin Laden, the most inspirational figure among the terrorists worldwide. In fact, the value of Osama was not in his person himself, but rather in the inspiration he was evoking among the terrorists worldwide, and at the same the kind of awe he was evoking among the peace lovers around the world. His life was almost elusive for more than one decade particularly aftermath of the 9/11 expect some video clips here and there to display the world that he is active and living, and guiding the world terrorism from caves of Tora Bora mountains in or from some other elusive place. His killing in Abbotabad town of Pakistan, less than 100 km from Islamabad, also provides at least partly how Pakistani state holds the clue in this international terrorism gamble.

Osama served a legend and a rallying figure among the terrorists worldwide. His origin in Saudi Arabia to a rich family and his links with organizations like Muslim Brotherhood and radical scholars like Azzam, provided bin Laden two most crucial things to boost the international network for terrorism.

His wealth played a key role in establishing the organisation and his radical ideas provided the needed ideological spin that Islam is in danger, and Al Qaeda, under his guidance could provide a front to challenge perceived injustice against Islam.

However, his primary launch pad was Afghanistan where he was trained by the US forces to fight against the Soviet Union. What appeared to be a propitious moment for the US in collusion with the radical Zia regime of Pakistan, later boomeranged against the US. The extremist religious fervour instilled among the Mujahideen including Osama later appeared to be protracted and widespread to other regions including his promoters.

The US could realize the vehemence of Laden when he declared every US taxpayer as his enemy, and vowed to fight the US and its injustice and his forces attacked World Trade Centre and Pentagon in 2001. What made Osama most dangerous was probably not his declaration of enmity against a particular country or a group of countries, but his intolerance of values democratic and liberal and peaceful. He attempted to give a colour of Crusade against whatever, according to his interpretation, is against Islam.

Two of his statements can be cited here to attest this view point. In October 2003, he evoked the Supreme Power to ‘bestow his triumph upon the Mujahideen everywhere in Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir, the Philippines and Afghanistan.’And in April 2006, he declared that the conflicts in various regions including Somalia, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya and Pakistani tribal regions as ‘examples of rancorous Crusade war.’ The Al Qaeda and its franchise organizations wreaked havoc and mayhem around the world, leaving no corner untouched.

The killing of Osama may deprive the Al Qaeda and its sister organizations an inspirational figure to rally with. But that in no way sounds death knell to the massive empire he built. Rather, his death may even prove more dangerous for peace in the world.Without any leader, many franchise organizations inspired by Al Qaeda will be masters unto themselves and will indulge in devastative activities around the world. It may not be ruled out that the world will witness retaliatory activities to avenge the killing of Osama. The Taliban has already threatened to avenge the killing.

Reportedly, the Al Qaeda number two, Ayman Al Zawahiri is likely to take over the leadership, and with his long association and experience in organizational skills he will lead the organization with equal vengeance. While Osama provided money and leadership to the organization, it was in fact the Egyptian doctor, Zawahiri who played a key role in strengthening and widening the base of Al Qaeda in various countries including Yemen, Sudan, Philippines, etc.

However, the killing of Osama in the Pakistani town of Abbotabad has raised many questions than answers. Though many leaders around the world have welcomed the killing, it is difficult to ascertain the exact nature of operation and the role of the US and Pakistan in killing the dreaded terrorist. The news reports suggest that the operation was kept in dark from the Pakistan intelligence agencies, while the Pakistani agencies cooperated with the US in tackling terrorism. It is also not yet clear why bin Laden chose to stay in a town which also housed one of Pakistan’s premier military academies.

The mansion in which Osama was staying in highly securitized area less than a kilometre from the academy was built in 2005, and that could not have been possible without cognizance of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Perhaps the coming days will reveal more about the mystery of his hiding in that particular place, and the role of various agencies involved in the killing operation named operation kill Laden.

The killing will have its impacts not only in Pakistan, but also in the wider region including Af-Pak, South Asia and the wider world. Interestingly, one radical leader in Kashmir, Syed Ali Shah Gilani on 2nd May called Osama a ‘martyr,’ as he fought against injustice. But, he does not elaborate, how the fighting against injustice includes in its ambit killing of innocent civilians across the divide of religions and nation states. The US may rejoice at the sense of victory, but the game in Afghanistan is still on. And Al Qaeda does not end with the end of Osama.

The recent case in which about four hundred Taliban prisoners escaping the prison in Afghanistan, and still the impenetrable Taliban in Afghanistan with formidable networks like Haqani network, and other sister organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammad bring forth the deep rootedness and invincibility of terrorism in Afghanistan with implications for the world.

These organizations will carry forward the mission of Al Qaeda with vengeance. The positive thing that has been achieved with the killing of Osama is that one of the behemoth symbols of terrorism has been wiped out though the menace is still pervasive.



Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra is part of the research faculty at the Centre for Central Eurasian Studies, University of Mumbai, India.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:51

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