On this day of Yom HaShoah we woke up to the entirely satisfactory news that Osama Bin Laden has been assassinated by American troops.
Bin Laden was holed up in a two-story house 100 yards from a Pakistani military academy when four helicopters carrying US anti-terror forces swooped in the early morning hours of Monday and killed him.
Obama said he ordered the operation after receiving undisclosed intelligence information. Pakistani officials and a witness said bin Laden’s guards opened fire from the roof of the building, and one of the choppers crashed. The sound of at least two explosions rocked the small northwestern town of Abbottabad where the al-Qaeda chief made his last stand Sunday. The US said no Americans were harmed in the raid.
Later a US official said bin-Laden’s body was buried at sea because Islamic practices call for burial within 24 hours. Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted terrorist would have been difficult, the official said, so the US decided to bury him at sea.
Another reason to bury him at sea would be to avoid his grave turning into a shrine for jihadist terrorists.
Hats off and kol hakavod to the Americans: to the soldiers, the intelligence guys, the top military brass and the political echelon, all the way up to President Obama himself.
There are some important points to ponder in all this however.
Killing Bin Laden, while a welcome riddance of an important symbol of Jihad, will not erase Islamic terrorism or even slow it down. Bin Laden leaves behind a network linked by the internet, which has managed quite well without him and will certainly (unfortunately) continue after him. We have all seen how Muslim terrorists have managed to carry out hundreds if not thousands of terrorist attacks in the decade since 9/11 without Bin Laden being in a position to influence or assist them. In fact the worldwide security situation might get worse before it gets better, with Al Qaeda members swearing bitter revenge. Ron Ben Yishai has more on this subject, including the implications for Israel.
Certainly the terrorists of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are not very happy at all about the death of their idol and are threatening revenge, while the “official” Arab world are maintaining a resounding silence.
A question arises: what and how much did the Pakistani security agencies know about Bin Laden’s whereabouts? He was hiding “in plain sight”, very close to a Pakistani military academy. Surely someone must have seen and known. That hideout could not have been built on the quiet. Are the Pakistanis not supposed to be allies of the West in the “War on Terror”?
The families of the Israeli victims of 9/11 are not mollified by the assassination, calling it “too little, too late”.
And yet more questions about the assassination, relevant to Israel:
This killing was what is called a targeted assassination. So far there has been nothing but congratulations for the Americans – as there should be. The EU even approved of the assassination, calling it “not an execution”.
The death of bin Laden was not an “execution” and does not call into question Europe’s opposition to the death penalty, the European Commission said today.
“This in no way questions the basic principles and values we have always supported … this was not the execution of a death sentence, it was something completely different. We continue to be against the death penalty.
(Excuse me while I stop laughing)…
Can Israel now take it as a given that she too can carry out targeted assassinations against known terrorists without risk of censure and condemnation at the UN and from the alphabet soup of international agencies?
There was apparently some collateral damage during the attack:
The 40-minute raid killed four other people, including two couriers, one of bin Laden’s sons and a women who was used as a shield.
Can Israel take it as a given from now on that if any of their attacks generate collateral damage, there will not be any UN condemnation etc. (see as above)?
If the answers to these questions are both “no”, we Israelis can go ahead with our defense with impunity, having proven that the world is completely hypocritical (in case any proof was needed).
A little bit of light relief: A Pakistani man live-tweeted the whole event without even realising it.