North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden's timely end

The news Sunday evening was riveting and spread like wildfire around the globe. Osama bin Laden, the philosophical force and ringleader of the twin towers attack on September 11, 2001, had been discovered, an operation had followed, and in 40 minutes from the time helicopters carrying US special forces had landed at his location, was dead.

As the news spread, world leaders nearly unanimously voiced their approval and relief, while simultaneously stating that the threat from radical Islamists was not spent. Only a few leaders - predictably - defiantly stated their disapproval.

A sand sculpture of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden created by Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik on a beach in Puri in the eastern Indian state of Orissa May 2, 2011.

Bin Laden's hiding place was alarming. Far from a cave or remote decrepit compound in Afghanistan or in the wilds of Pakistan, he was found in a million dollar residence 40 miles from Islamabad, Pakistan's capitol, specially built for him in the past several years, and more remarkably just hundreds of meters from Pakistan's pre-eminent college for military officers. The location as it became known to the world immediately generated questions as to how Pakistan's intelligence service or guards for the nearby facility could not have known of an unusual compound with secrecy surrounding it and its inhabitants. Those questions will be followed up.

Osama's hiding place was just north of Pakistan's capital, in a relatively affluent city called Abbottabad, and also home of Pakistan's premier war training college.

US President Obama received strong bipartisan support as the details of the dramatic event unfolded. His announcement to the world was disciplined, low key, and clear. He emphasized the remarkable unity America displayed in the days after 9/11 and declared his wish that his country could find that unity again. He acknowledged President George Bush's efforts on multiple fronts, but in particular the assurance President Bush gave in the days after 9/11 that the US was not against Islam or Muslims themselves, nor was President Obama nearly 10 years later. He gave a nod to Pakistan as an ally, while making the point that it was a US operation, not a multilateral UN consensus approach.

Finally, it was revealed that Mr. Obama redirected the method of attack towards a ground level operation, rather than a massive bombing attack, stating the world would need proof, there would be less chance for civilian casualties, while implying that the military had the highly trained professionals who could carry out the riskier course of action.

The US President delivering the news of the killing of Osama bin Laden late Sunday night, May 1, 2011. He quietly said that while it took nearly 10 years, justice had been served, and that America's enemies should think again in the face of resolve that America still retained and could demonstrate.

In a remarkable followup, we learned that the special forces in the attack, 40 in all flying in on 4 helicopters, wore cameras in their helmets - at least those leading the actual operation into the compound - and that US leaders "watched" the operation in real time. This sort of risk both for the use of Navy SEALS on the ground rather than bombing from on high, as well as for the administration, was described by a UK commentator, as "John Wayne-ish" simultaneously somewhat derisive yet at the same time uniquely American. It struck many commentators that the US demonstrated once again Sunday that it still had confidence in its power, and the competence to use it.

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President Obama and administration leaders watch operation in real time.

Pakistan's role in all this will no doubt become an early followup issue - a complicated one no doubt. The nation is rife with militant groups and ideology, and is subjected to nearly daily attacks. It is on the front line of a major war, is repeatedly being accused of participating on both sides, and has a history of wavering between military, dictatorial and democratic rule. And Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons.

Pakistani soldiers ring Bin Laden's compound the day after the raid

The day after the raid, a small shop in Quetta Pakistan selling Bin Laden memorabilia. Quetta is one of several Pakistani centers of strong Islamist support.

Around the world

Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound shown on an Arabic news channel.

Yemeni's in a tent absorb the news.

A Tokyo resident watches Obama's announcement

Seniors in Florida following the developments, in this case, painted on the back of a van.

Gillard, Australia's Prime Minister, welcomed the news and echoed Presidents Bush and Obama's characterization that justice had been done.

Hamas' leader, Ismail Haniyeh, however, defiantly declared Osama a holy warrior for Islam and now a martyr. His anger and position erodes the upcoming conference where Gaza and West Bank Palestinians were to reunite. Contrasting his statement,Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib said, "Getting rid of Bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide, but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods -- the violent methods -- that were created and encouraged by Bin Laden and others in the world."

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparas, only stated that with the death of Osama bin Laden, the US had no excuse to stay in the middle east, and should withdraw all forces as soon as possible...

While the "spiritual" leader of Islamic terror is now gone, other warriors remain. Osama's right hand man, Egyptian born Zawahiri, shown below, remains.

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The deceased Mr. Bin Laden (left), and Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri (right) Al-Zawahiri is reportedly a qualified surgeon, has a deep and radical understanding of Islamic theology and Islamic history, and speaks Arabic, English and French.

Fodder for the future:

Can Pakistan successfuly overcome Islamic terrorism and ideology within its own society?

Will the debate over "enhanced interrogation" be re-opened? Information from such methods is widely linked to providing the necessary intelligence leading to Osama bin Laden's death, but is now banned by this administration.

Was Al-Qaeda's message becoming irrelevant in any regard, in light of the "Arab Spring" now challenging Arab rulers through the Middle East and North Africa.


Teatree said...

Details continue to change as facts are checked, and further info is released from the powers that be.

Now, perhaps there were only two full helicopters and two acting as reserve - one of which was used when one of the two original malfunctioned, had to set down hard, couldn't be started, and was subsequently blown up when the team left.

Sarah said...

A week later... while, in a way, it is a relief to have him gone it also feels anti-climatic. Probably because so much else has gone on since 9/11 and, probably more importantly, we're more educated on islamic extremism and more aware of the many other extremist leaders ready to take his place.

I found it very interesting to see the college students out celebrating; remembering suddenly that they were just little kids when 9/11 happened and how it shaped their world view - there's no before and after for them. Just a post 9/11 world

Teatree said...

Very good point about college students. It reminds me of the recent story of those little kids who were listening to President GW Bush read a book to them when the towers were attacked.

Nearly 10 years later, these 16 and 17 year olds were worth listening to ...

The Interrupted Reading: The Kids with George W. Bush on 9/11

Read more:,8599,2069327,00.html#ixzz1MITZi0YM