- By Mary Habeck
The death of bin Laden is unambiguous good news for the world and the continuing war on terror: the murderer responsible for 9/11 and tens of thousands of other deaths around the world has gone to meet his Maker and receive justice for his evil. Just as importantly the chief architect of al Qaeda, a charismatic leader who may have held the group together through the sheer force of his personality, is gone.
Here are three of the implications of this momentous event:
First, there is good reason to hope that the coalition that constitutes much of the global jihad will begin to unravel as individual leaders of jihadist groups are able to reconsider their oath of fealty (called "ba’ya") to bin Laden. These oaths, which have been used by al Qaeda to create its global coalition from many disparate groups, are binding only until the death of the person one swears to (the Amir), and do not automatically transfer to the Amir’s deputy. We can expect that at least some of those who supported bin Laden will decide not to transfer their loyalty to the new Amir of al Qaeda and might be open to surrendering or negotiations.
Second, the news that bin Laden was found in a lavish mansion just outside Islamabad — in a suburb that is the richest of the entire country of Pakistan — and guarded by dozens if not hundreds of minions, shows that Pakistan has been at least partially assimilated by the global jihadist movement. There is no way in God’s green earth that some part of official Pakistan — the military, the intelligence agencies, or the political class — was not somehow involved in protecting bin Laden from detection and capture. Punishing Pakistan is not the point, but rather that the country is much further along in its slide toward extremism and perhaps even civil war and needs more, not less, assistance from us.
Finally, it has been the modus operandi of the jihadist groups affiliated with al Qaeda to carry out revenge attacks after the death of leaders. Bin Laden has said since the 1990s that his group and movement are more than one person, and there are signs that he and his organization have long planned for his death or capture. Part of this planning is almost certainly raids and terrorist attacks carried out in his name, and we should be extra vigilant over the next few months for these new threats.