Osama Bin Laden's death raises more questions than answers.
There are a number of questions that have been raised by news reports since today's US military action in Pakistan.
Firstly, what was Osama doing living in the Pakistani military garrison town of Abbotabad? Was he being protected by Pakistan's notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency? You would really have to ask given that Osama's mansion was reportedly located right, smack bang in the middle of the town and only 100 metres from a Pakistani military base. Has the Pakistani military been sheltering him? I also recall seeing a British documentary some years back which claimed that Osama had been living undercover in major Pakistani cities for years. So, why did the US believe that he had been holed up in remote North Western Pakistan or Afghanistan for all this time? Is this another case of so-called faulty or witheld intelligence?
Secondly, and linked to the above question, aren't the Pakistanis supposed to be close US allies in the so-called War on Terror? Isn't the Central Intelligence Agency supposed to have close links to the ISI and the Pakistani military? With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Thirdly, why did the US kill Bin Laden instead of witholding fire and capture him alive? In other words, did they intend to kill him and not take him alive at all? Were the Americans afraid that Bin Laden would produce embarrasing evidence at trial about his early links with the United States, particularly when he was an anti-Soviet Mujahadeen fighter in Afghanistan? Furthermore, Bin Laden's family maintains close links to the ruling Al-Saud family in Saudi Arabia and, more interestingly, to the Bush family (that's right George W's clan) in the US.
These are questions that the US and Pakistani ruling elites will have to answer in coming days and weeks. Osama's death will also raise the question of whether to pursue a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan by US and Allied occupation forces. With Osama gone and the threat from Al Qaeda somewhat diminished, what justification is left for the continued occupation of Afghanistan and the continuing undeclared war against Pakistan? In my view, it would better for a United Nations led policing operation to take over the hunt for remaining Al Qaeda operatives and then turn them over to be tried by the International Crimes Tribunal. This would end any need for a militarised response to terrorism as, after all, it is a crime and not an act of war as sadly many people have been led to believe.
Admittedly, Bin Laden's demise has seen the head of Al Qaeda taken out. The US's actions in killing him will diminish Al Qaeda's ability to launch attacks. Yet, Bin Laden may been more useful dead than alive as probably he knew uncomfortable truths about the US's actions in supporting him and his fellow fighters all those years ago.
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