The killing of al-Qaeda Chief Osama Bin-Laden by US special forces in Pakistan is likely to have more of a short-term psychological impact than concrete long-lasting political ramifications.
While Bin-Laden’s death will generate a lot of satisfaction in Washington, the low-intensity war between the America and al-Qaeda will most probably intensify in ferocity.
Al-Qaeda has nearly sunk into oblivion having been eclipsed by revolutions across the Arab world; they have demonstrated that overcoming tyrannical regimes and pushing through political and civil reforms is more achievable if peaceful and nonviolent means are used rather than car bombs and terror, which were al-Qaeda’s trademark.
It is clear that there was a real movement of Arab and Muslim public opinion away from al-Qaeda long before the assassination of Bin Laden, who had already become very much a symbolic figure. His death is unlikely to be the watershed or historical landmark some so-called experts would have us believe. It is not an organization built around a charismatic figure whose death would more or less close the group down. It is, rather, a highly dogmatic group dedicated to the nihilistic ideology of fighting disbelievers, especially belligerents, fighting Muslims or invading or occupying Muslim land.
There is no doubt that al-Qaeda represented a serious deviation from Islam which forbids targeting innocent people, Muslim or otherwise. This is the main reason which has prompted many otherwise devout Muslims to abandon the group and its methods.
The unjustified and often gruesome killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent people in countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Britain, Spain and the United States made many Muslims, including this writer, despise this and similar groups. Their tactics besmirched the image of Islam and gave its enemies, such as Zionist Israel, ready ammunition to smear our faith and vilify its followers.
Like most Muslims, I realise that the US and Britain are not the innocents abroad that they would like us to believe. America, for example, is anything but, especially with regard to its criminal, even genocidal, policies towards the Muslim of Palestine and Iraq.
The US is believed to have been responsible for the “low-level” war of annihilation in Iraq in the 1990s which may have killed as many as a million Iraqi children through sanctions supposedly targeting the regime of Saddam Hussain. This genocidal onslaught against a people too weak to resist the tyrant was a war of choice for America. When the infamous Madeleine Albright was asked about the deaths of so many Iraqi children she answered unhesitatingly that “If it is good for America, it is worth it”.
In Palestine, America’s embrace of Israeli racism and fascism has enabled and the apartheid entity to perfect its murderous terror and ethnic cleansing against helpless civilians. Palestinians struggle to survive in the face of one of the most nefarious forms of colonialism, namely Israeli Zionism. This has provoked the global Muslim community which views, quite justiably, the US as enabler, guarantor and protector of Israel and its criminal acts. Meanwhile, Britain’s role in planting and consolidating the malignant Zionist cancer in Palestine is regarded as an unforgivable sin by most Muslims.
Nevertheless, the West’s colonial and imperialist crimes around the world can’t justify the kind of terrorist acts which killed innocent people; ordinary citizens can’t be blamed for the crimes committed in their name by their respective governments and armed forces.
Mainstream Muslims must speak up against the abuse of our religion, even under the attractive rubric of Jihad and fighting against the enemies of Islam. Sometimes, some of us may be carried away by al-Qaeda’s galvanizing rhetoric or mesmerized into believing or doing the wrong thing.
However, we must always keep in mind that doing the wrong thing or acting rashly, even if doing so brings us solace or satisfaction, may damage our cause, however just it may be. Apart from anything else, in Islam, as in other faiths, it is never enough to be right; one has to be wise as well. In the Holy Qur’an, the Almighty reminds us that “whoever is given wisdom, he is given a lot of good.”
One hopes that the death of Bin Laden will be the end of a tragic era between the US and the Muslim world. However, with the scandal of Palestinian rights still unresolved and the US surrendering incessantly to the Israel lobby, one should harbour no illusions about the future awaiting us.
This writer strongly condemned the 9/11 attacks in the United States unconditionally. None the less, no reasonable person can ignore the opinion that America’s hostile policy toward Muslims was what created the al-Qaeda phenomenon in the first place.
Al-Qaeda reasoned that in a jungle – and, yes, we must admit that America and Israel helped transform our world into a jungle – one would have to be cunning in order to survive.
I hope that Al-Qaeda’s reasoning is false and that the organisation will never be vindicated. That, however, depends on Israel and its guardian-ally, the United States, as much as it does on al-Qaeda.
It is hoped that we have all learned a lesson from the confrontation between al-Qaeda and the United States: Muslims need to have realised that mindless violence and terror, especially against innocent civilians, is wrong and doesn’t pay. Likewise, the US and its allies need to understand that pushing people to the brink can be extremely dangerous for both the aggressor and the victim, because nothing encourages terrorism more than oppression.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.