EDITORIAL – Reflections on the killing of bin Laden
THE DEMONSTRATIVE REJOICING by Americans on Sunday night over the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by United States special forces at his hideout in Pakistan is quite understandable.
After all, for the USA, the 64-year-old Saudi Arabian-born leader of the international terrorist movement Al-Qaeda was the primary architect of the mind-boggling bombing attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.
Thousands had perished in that unprecedented disaster for the world’s sole superpower that felt compelled to introduce the most complex and costly security networks at home, while also leaning heavily on nations of the world, including those in the Caribbean region, to enforce systems and practices that could complement anti-terrorist activities in general.
There should also have been no surprises over the initial cynical questioning of the authenticity of media reports, prior to the confirmation which came from President Barack Obama, that indeed bin Laden’s death (shot to the head), had resulted from an authorization he had issued earlier in the week.
But in anticipation of more than the flood of skepticism, at home and abroad, over the fate of the “most wanted man on earth” by America, the Obama administration took care to ensure identification of his body through forensic analysis and DNA testing, as well as photographs.
Further, it is of importance to note that while extra security measures were unfolding at all US diplomatic missions, including those in the Caribbean, in anticipation of likely Al-Qaeda reprisals, the US authorities had chosen to bury bin Laden’s body at sea consistent with a 24-hour period of his death and rooted in Islamic traditions.
As President Obama told the world in a broadcast statement from the White House, “For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al-Qaeda’s leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al-Qaeda.
“Yet,” stressed the President, “his death does not mark the end of our effort. There is no doubt that Al-Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must, and we will, remain vigilant at home and abroad.”
The security of any nation – superpower or other – is best guaranteed when those controlling the levers of state power avoid engaging in expedient enforcement of the rule of law or selectively make a farce of democratic governance and sovereignty of states, and fundamental rights of citizens.
This is perhaps a good time for the powerful, as well as the vulnerable and poor, to bear this in mind, amid the current many bloody conflicts being waged in so many regions of the world.