Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bin Laden’s death may end a painful era for the Muslim world
By Bashir Goth

Bin Laden is gone. He died as he wished to die, a martyr to some but to many others an evil incarnate who chose to live by the gun and surely died by the gun.

But the nagging question is will the world be any different? Not so soon. As the Somalis say: Ayax teg, eelna reeb (gone is the locust, but it has left behind a lasting breed). Bin Laden has left behind a proliferating breed of Al Qaeda affiliates in many parts of the world. Indeed the world may experience nasty reminders in the near future as his followers try to demonstrate their ability to avenge their leader’s death.

One may hope, however, that Bin Laden’s departure closes a dark and painful era of division and hostility between the west and the Muslim world. No one can deny that Bin Laden and his extremist ideology were responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people around the world. Bin Laden adherents killed thousands of Muslims in mosques, in shopping centers, in schools and orphanages, in hotels and in their own homes while sleeping or meeting around their dining tables. The U.S invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq might never have happened and tens of thousands of lives as well as the material wealth and cultural heritage of old civilizations might never have been destroyed without the existence of Bin Laden. Muslim communities in the West might never have experienced such unprecedented alienation and Islamophobia and Muslim youth born and bred in Western capitals might never have sought deliverance and martyrdom in mass killing and suicide bombings. Thousands of spin doctors, spontaneous pundits and security experts might never have earned big bucks in the industry of terrorism and the Arab news satellite Al Jazeera might never have grown into such an iconic yet idiosyncratic news channel without propagating Bin Laden’s poisonous messages.

It is arguably true that it might have been ideal to capture Bin Laden alive and bring him to face justice in a court of law, but did Bin Laden himself believe in an ideal world? Did he allowed justice for the thousands of people killed by his supporters and sympathizers or did he ever express any sympathy to the victims of his terrorist marauders?

There is no doubt that Bin Laden’s Rambo type killing by Americans would turn him into a martyr, but it is also true it would be very difficult for Al Qaeda to survive very long without the deep pockets and outreach of Bin Laden and without his charisma as a Buddha-like figure who was born into wealth and luxury and chose to lead a harsh life among the poor. Al Qaeda was a house built on sand and stood only due to the ingenuity of its engineer and with the departure of the engineer, it will eventually fall. Granted that the debris and the fall out will cause a lot of damage here and there, but once the dust settles down there would be no Bin Laden to erect it again.

It is also worth to remember that Bin Ladenism has long been buried by Arab youth inspired revolutions before the death of Bin Laden himself. And we hope that Al Shabab, the Al Qaeda offshoot in Somalia, would take heed, disband and ask forgiveness from the Somali people for the heinous atrocities they committed before it is too late.