Why bin Ladenís Ghost Is Smiling
by Eric Margolis: Uncle
Sam Borrows; China Invests
of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in Abbotabad, Pakistan will
likely assure Barack Obamaís victory in the 2012 presidential race.
Republican hawks will have a hard time pressing their claims that
Obama is "soft on terrorism."
the killing of bin Laden remain obscure. The mission, a joint operation
between CIA and Special Forces, appeared to have been mounted from
a US-controlled air base in Pakistan Ė without the advance knowledge
of Pakistanís government. US sources say Osama was shot twice in
the head; his son was also killed.
body was photographed and then apparently dumped into the sea from
a US aircraft. Washington claims this was done to observe Muslim
funeral rites calling for almost immediate burial. This sounds preposterous.
The real reason
was more likely to prevent bin Ladenís burial site from becoming
a shrine and, some cynics will assert, getting rid of the evidence.
Expect endless claims that a bin Laden double was killed while the
real McCoy still haunts Pakistanís badlands. Various fakes videotapes
used to depict bin Laden as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks used
are rejoicing that the man credited with the monstrous crime of
9/11 has been killed after a ten year search. More thoughtful ones
may stop to ponder the remarkable Quixotic drama of a single man
who set out to overturn the mighty American Imperium.
To people of
the Muslim world, where many hailed bin Laden as a hero and liberator
from Western domination, his killing in Pakistan will recall American
gangland rub-outs and bodies dumped in New Jerseyís waters and swamps.
Particularly after NATO warplanes killed Muammar Gadaffiís youngest
son and three grandchildren in Libya.
acid US-Pakistan relations to yet worsen as Americans accuse Pakistan
of sheltering bin Laden for a decade. This writer has long said
that Bin Laden was in Pakistan, and likely with at least some knowledge
of ISI, Pakistani intelligence, though its able former Director
General, Hamid Gul, whose word I respect, disputes this claim.
It is most
unfortunate that bin Laden was literally rubbed out. If he could
have been taken alive, the co-founder of al-Qaida should have been
brought to the United States to stand trial in New York City, or,
failing that, on a military base Ė but with lawyers and a civilian
jury under full US law.
The whole story
of 9/11 and al-Qaida remains murky and confused. Fully a third of
Americans donít accept the official US government version of 9/11,
believing the US government or Israel were somehow involved Ė without
any conclusive evidence but a lot of angry questions.
Much of the
rest of the world also disbelieves the official 9/11 version. In
the Muslim world the percentage of disbelievers rises to over 80%.
bin Ladenís death, we may never really know. Dead men tell no tales.
Bin Laden long claimed he had no role in 9/11. Yet he certainly
gave his approval and support after the fact. Those al-Qaida suspects
brutally tortured by CIA into confessions are unreliable sources
of evidence that would never stand up in US courts.
One point I
want to set to rest: based on my long experience in Afghanistan
and Pakistan and with jihadi groups and bin Ladenís mentor and guide,
Sheik Azzam, I can say with a high level of assurance that bin Laden
never worked for or with CIA, as has been often claimed. They were
merely on the same side during the anti-Soviet struggle.
A big question
now is what justification will Washington come up with to keep 150,000
Western troops in Afghanistan?
bin Laden was, remember, the primary reason for sending US troops
to that remote nation. No doubt Taliban and its leader Mullah Omar
will be morphed by the US media machine into a bin Laden stand-ins.
What of al-Qaida?
This extremist group, as I have been writing since 1999, was tiny.
Never more than 300 men in 2001. Today, the core al-Qaida in Pakistan
consists of a handful of hunted men. CIA chief Leon Panetta asserted
that there were something less than 50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan.
There may be a hundred in Pakistan Ė all on the run.
media and the Bush administration wildly exaggerated the menace,
strength and reach of al-Qaida, panicking Americans into believing,
as the analyst Kevin Phillips wrote, that suburban soccer moms in
the deepest Midwest were petrified Osama bin Laden was coming for
of al-Qaida provided a handy pretext to invade Afghanistan to secure
strategic territory next to Central Asian oil, keep China out of
that region, and double spending on arms. The invasion of oil-rich
Iraq was also justified by patently false White House claims Saddam
Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden over 9/11.
in North Africa, Arabia, and south Asia are simply small groups
of local militants who have taken the al-Qaida brand name without
having any organic or communications links to the remnants of the
core al-Qaida in Pakistan. They are more a dangerous nuisance than
a deadly threat.
Osama bin Laden
may well and truly be dead. He predicted long ago he would die a
martyr in a gunfight with US forces. Bin Laden has been more or
less retired for the past 8-10 years, spending his time and energies
in staying alive with a $25 million price on his head. He had almost
number two, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, remains at large and
is now titular head of what remains of the organization of which
he has been operations chief for many years. Dr. Zawahiri, who was
brutally tortured in Egypt, is a dangerous extremist with much blood
on his hands and a lust for revenge.
Bin Laden is
dead, but bin-Ladenism lives on. Osamaís primary goal was to end
Western domination of the Muslim world, and exploitation of its
resources, which he claimed were being plundered. The Western-backed
dictators, generals and kings that ruled the Muslim world as overseers
for foreign interests had to be overthrown proclaimed bin Laden.
world rejected bin Ladenís bloody-mindedness and his utopian calls
for a reborn Islamic caliphate, but many of its people, particularly
so younger ones, embraced his calls for revolutions to liberate
the region from brutal dictatorships that licked the Westís boots,
spread corruption, and betrayed the cause of Palestine. Husni Mubarakís
Egypt amply fit this description.
bin Laden lived long enough to see the revolutions that he had helped
ignite among young people burst into towering flames. In this sense,
bin Ladenism will prosper and spread, enhanced by the image of Osama
The Saudi revolutionary
leaves another legacy. He repeatedly stated that the only way to
drive the US from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by
drawing the United States into a series of small but expensive wars
that would ultimately bankrupt it. The United States under President
George W. Bush and then Barack Obama rushed right into bin Ladenís
carefully laid trap.
nearly bankrupt United States is spending hundreds of billions annually
waging small wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and the
Sahara. Grotesquely overblown military spending and debt addiction
are crippling United States. That is why the ghost of bin Laden
may be smiling.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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