Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama bin Laden (March 10, 1957 – c. April 25, 2011)

by Dick Mac

The end of an era is always followed by the beginning of a new era.

In the mid-1980s, we formed an anti-Communist alliance with a group of Muslims fighting the Soviet take-over of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union bordered almost all of the "-stan" countries and systematically folded them, as undeveloped countries into the USSR.

When they moved on Afghanistan, we were prepared for them. We armed and financed the Taliban, whose military was led by a charismatic young leader with strong familial connections to Western development throughout West Asia and the Middle East.

The bin Laden family is very wealthy and is connected to all of the other wealthy, powerful families throughout the world. In the 1960s, as their fortune grew, their children spread far and wide, mostly to America, to be educated. They were a Saudi Arabian family who embraced Western technology and business. They drove a station wagon and wore European clothes. They were a smart, hard-working, forward-thinking family with the means to have anything they wanted.

The patriarch Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden had multiple wives and his tenth wife, Hamida al-Attas, bore him a son, Osama, who was his father's tenth child.

Osama bin Laden was born in 1957, and his formal education began at the elite Al-Thager Model School, where he was enrolled from the ages of 10 to 18. He is alleged to have earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. Although none of this is confirmed, it appears that his main interest was religion.

bin Laden was one of many religious Muslims who were offended by non-Muslim takeovers of Muslim land throughout that part of the world; although, like most religious hypocrites, he was perfectly comfortable with Muslim invading armies occupying those same regions.

When the Taliban defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, they set-up shop and used American tax dollars to develop and build a theocratic state, so brutal in its authority that most Americans will not even discuss it. Contemporary information about the brutality of the Taliban is readily available in the European press, but was not really covered in the United States.

Perhaps the greatest symbol of the Taliban's brutality was the huge soccer stadium built with funds from Western countries that was used not for soccer matches, but for military executions of citizens accused of religious crimes. The executed were primarily women and homosexuals, but thieves and other petty criminals were also put on center stage so that throngs of onlookers could watch them be maimed or executed.

Emboldened by support of the West, bin Laden began to spread his holy war throughout the world and decided that all enemies of Islam had to be destroyed.

The greatest enemy of Islam, it was decided, was their primary benefactor: the United States. Attacks on United States installations throughout the Middle East led to the withdrawal of all American troops from Saudi Arabia; but that retreat did not satisfy bin Laden and the Taliban, and attacks on US interests increased.

Silent through all of this was bin Laden's homeland, Saudi Arabia, a nation that is alleged to be one of our strongest allies. As is often said: "With friends like that, who needs enemies."

On my birthday in 1993, the holy war against the United States came to our front door when a bomb was detonated in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. Seven people were killed and many injured.

On that day, the WTC became the standing symbol of American strength and resolve against this new military campaign draped in the teachings of Islam. More attacks against the United States followed, but all took place on foreign soil.

Eight years later, I was sitting in my office at 1 Undershaft, in London, chatting on AIM with my friend Elizabeth, in New York City. She typed: "Uh-oh! Something's happening at the World Trade Center; get to a television."

Within moments, the entire 17th floor was abuzz and a television was being set-up in a conference room. We all huddled around and watched the horrible image of one of the buildings burning, then a second plane hit the other building, then it was announced that The Pentagon had been attacked in the same manner.

America was under attack and the English prepared for the same to happen in London. The City was officially closed and everybody began making their way home. Helicopters criss-crossed the London sky and there was a silent, but deliberate exodus out of the City.

Eventually we were shown pictures of Osama bin Laden, a man unknown to the vast majority of Americans, and he became the face of the attack, the face of jihad, the face of al-qaeda, the personification of all evil.

The United States military began a campaign to find bin laden, who was last-known to be in Afghanistan. That campaign, in nascent stages, was stopped, just as the military was closing-in on bin Laden; and America's military might was sent to attack Iraq.

Our war against bin Laden and the Taliban was mysteriously ended and we began fighting a war against a fictional enemy inaccurately named "al-Qaeda" by the government and the media in a place that was no threat to the United States.

Somehow, we all accepted this and the Taliban continued operating and making money, and funneled that money to terrorist organizations throughout Western Asian and the Middle East.

Our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden, although alleged to be "on-the-run" was still operating his holy war against America, and we were doing nothing about it.

Eventually, there was a change in American leadership and as the oil men left the White House, the military was instructed to focus less on the oil-rich holdings of Iraq and to use their resources in Afghanistan to root out the world's most wanted man, and to stabilize the area.

For the past couple of years, both tasks have seemed impossible; but, at least we were no focusing on the enemies of the United States, instead of the acquisition of oil for a few Texans.

Then last night, it was announced that Osama bin Laden had been found and killed by the United States military, in Pakistan. We were, it was reported, in possession of his body, and the President made the announcement we have been awaiting for ten years.

This morning it was reported that large gatherings had assembled at the WTC and at the White House to celebrate bin Laden's death and remember the tragic events that he master-minded.

Then it was reported that one of his son's was also killed, along with a number of advisers, and that bin Laden had been "buried at sea"

I became suspicious immediately. I have read "[t]here are photographs of the body with a gunshot wound to the side of the head that shows an individual who is not unrecognizable as bin Laden . . ." [U.S. forces kill elusive terror figure Osama bin Laden in Pakistan], and I hope this is true.

So, my conclusion is that President Obama has succeeded at doing what his predecessor refused to do, that this is further proof that his predecessor is a traitor, and that although the world may not really be any safer today than it was yesterday, we have finally killed the most evil man the public has ever loved to hate.

Perhaps this will mean the start of a new chapter in global safety. I certainly hope so. Perhaps, now that this man - this symbol - of some of the worst crimes in my lifetime is dead, the international community can come to an agreement that terrorism is a global problem that benefits nobody; and that as a species, we can hammer-out our differences without hatred and violence.

It is the end of an era. What will the new era bring?

No comments: