Anthony Cordesman, an expert from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says that the United States will still face the broader threat of terrorism after the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
US President Barack Obama on Sunday night (May 1) confirmed that the head of the al-Qaida network behind the terrorist attacks on New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, was shot dead during a US special forces operation in Abbottabad, north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
“We need to face the fact that all of the social, political and religious forces that triggered the terrorist and extremist threat are still in place,” Cordesman said in an article on the CSIS website. “It is very unlikely that Bin Laden’s death, or even the destruction of al-Qaida, can end or seriously undercut the broader threat from extremism and terrorism.”
Terrorists would utilize the deaths of Bin Laden and his sons to mobilize extremists,Another problem is the US relationship with Pakistan and the war in Afghanistan.
Obama stressed that US enemy is Bin Laden rather than Islam, saying that “the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.” Nonetheless, the fact that Bin Laden was found in comfortable surroundings near Pakistan’s capital is an embarrassment for Islamabad, whose cooperation with the United States on fighting extremism has often been called into question.
“We still need to be very careful about what Bin Laden’s death will mean for relations with Pakistan and for the war in Afghanistan. No words from the US will be enough for those in Pakistan who already see every US action as a threat,” Cordesman said.
It is also uncertain whether Bin Laden’s death will mean a swift withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. At least one senior member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has already called for US withdrawal and some people will question whether the Afghan war is really the most effective way of defeating terrorist groups, Cordesman said.
In short, Osama dead is certainly still far better than Osama alive but it is only one event in a long war that will have to be fought for many more years and on many fronts