Monday, May 2, 2011

After Osama bin Laden? Change, But Not Swift Change

Conspiracy theorists may have a field day with the decision to follow Muslim practice: disposing of Osama bin Laden's body promptly after his death.

Given how emotional the topic is, someone may come up with the notion that President Obama had the CIA - and maybe the Illuminati, the Ukashi, and the Catholic Church 1 - killed some innocent victim as part of an effort to get Obama reelected. Or to drive gas prices up. Or something.

Eventually, someone in Hollywood - or Bollywood - may produce the equivalent of They Saved Hitler's Brain.

As I've said before, emotions and reason don't play well together. (December 23, 2008) Which can help make moderately-entertaining movies now and again.

Speculations about the silly side aside, I have little doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead. I've read in the news - and am inclined to believe - that DNA tests confirm bin Laden's identity.

Osama bin Laden's Dead: Can We All Go Home Now?

It looks like Osama bin Laden was a central figure where it came to inspiring several attacks on 'enemies of Islam' - from bin Laden's point of view. Not having him around will, I think make a difference.

But it won't, I think, result in all the folks who hate America and Israel and trousers and dogs and mice suddenly decide to stop killing people. Too many folks in the Islamic world have too many crazy ideas - and are are apparently being taken too seriously by their neighbors:Not that Islam has a monopoly on occasionally-violent nut jobs, and folks who assume that their personal quirks are God's will.2 From Fred Phelps' 'God hates fags' church to the fellow who went around killing young couples, and the young women who beat up someone in a McDonalds for wearing the 'wrong' clothes: America has its share of folks who are apparently driven by malignant virtue.

That quick review of hot-button topics isn't as off-topic as it may seem, I think.

The Fred Phelps and Pat (Haiti had it coming) Robertsons of Western culture are not - in my experience and considered opinion - representative of Protestant belief in America. And they certainly don't reflect the attitude of all Americans: or all Christians, for that matter.

America isn't Sudan

One of the ways that America is different from, say, Sudan, is that the religious nut jobs are not running the country - and most of them are not particularly violent. Now, anyway. (see A Catholic Citizen in America (April 7, 2011)

I suspect one reason for this difference is that America, and the West, has experienced a great deal of change over the last several centuries - which has given most folks a chance to get accustomed to new ideas. I've been over that idea before:
"...It's hard to shake the impression that, in many parts of the Islamic world, the Magna Carta is thousands of years in their future.

"From legal action taken against a 'blasphemous' teddy bear, to outlawing the color red: I think there's evidence that many folks living in places like Sudan and Saudi Arabia are dealing, none too calmly, with a world that they simply don't understand.

"Or like.

"As I've said before: just a few generations back, many folks had been living in a culture which hadn't changed all that much since the days before Abraham moved out of Ur. Then they were dragged across thousands of years of change, from a culture of burqas and honor killings to a world of bikinis, Budweiser and dog food commercials.

"No wonder some went a bit nuts...."
("October 21, 2010)
I think it will take a long time for the last folks who think that killing people who aren't like them is defending Islam - and think that Islam means living the way folks did when Abram moved out of Ur - to grow old and die: frustrated at how 'un-Islamic' the younger generation is.

I don't expect the sort of 'Earthly paradise' that science fiction writers once imagined - but I think that quite a few folks in the Islamic world have gotten fed up, and I'll get back to that.

We'll Always have a Few Crazies

There will, I think, be a Fred Phelps or two in America, as long as there is an America:

(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

I also hope - sincerely - that the sort of malignant virtue shown in that photo remains a lunatic-fringe element in this country.

Al Qaeda, Frustrations, and Unappreciative Muslims

I also think that one of the things - besides bikinis and beer - that infuriates folks who run outfits like Al Qaeda is that the West in general and America in particular are so very successful, in a material way.

We 'should,' I suspect, be collapsing like a decadent wreckage.

Instead, America has a problem with folks trying to break into the country - and more wanting to find out how we do what we do, so they can do the same in their own country.

Even worse, their own neighbors don't seem to appreciate being blown up, or, beheaded, in the name of Islam. I think it's important to remember that, for all the 'death to Israel, death to the great Satan America' stuff, Islamic terrorists mostly kill other Muslims:
"...For most of the victims are Muslim: not only Shia Muslims and Sunni moderates and seculars, but also bystanders who have committed the deadly sin of buying vegetables while one of those holy warriors decides to fight his battle and start his ascendance to the hereafter...."
(Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, in

Fed Up and Making a Difference

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad also pointed out that folks in Tunisia and other countries were achieving reform - or at least were moving in that direction - without Al Qaeda's 'kill your friends and allies' approach.

Like I said, it must be frustrating for old-school thinkers in that part of the world.

But I don't see Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and like-minded outfits, changing their ways. Any more than I see Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson joining Amnesty International.

I've put more-extensive-than-usual excerpts from today's news and views at the end of this post.3

Vaguely-related posts:
News and views:

1 I think it's important to remember that crazy ideas with religious trimmings aren't an Islamic monopoly. See comments on posts in another of my blogs, A Catholic Citizen in America. (April 15, 2011, November 15, 2010, April 27, 2010, April 1, 2010) And, in this blog, see the "Both the Catholics and Muslims are Satanic Cults" comment. (March 25, 2009)

2 See:3 Excerpts from today's news and views:
"Clinton: Bin Laden death shows 'You cannot defeat us'"
World, CNN (May 2, 2011)

"The successful U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden sends a message to the Taliban in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday.

" 'You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon al Qaeda. and participate in a peaceful political process, Clinton said.

" 'There is no better rebuke to al Qaeda and its heinous ideology,' she said. 'The fight continues and we will never waver.'

"Some doubted that the terrorist leader would ever be caught, she said, but 'this is America... We persevere, and we get the job done.'...

"...The mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- the worst terrorist attacks on American soil -- was killed by U.S. forces Monday in a mansion in Abbottabad, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, U.S. officials said.

Four others in the compound also were killed. One of them was bin Laden's adult son, and another was a woman being used as a shield by a male combatant, the officials said....

"...DNA matching is under way on samples from his body, a U.S. government official said. There 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, the official said....

"...Bin Laden's body was later buried at sea, an official said. Many Muslims adhere to the belief that bodies should be buried within one day.

"The official did not release additional details about the burial, but said it was handled in keeping with Muslim customs...."

"Timeline: Tip Leads U.S. to Usama Bin Laden" (May 2, 2011)

"The tip that landed Usama bin Laden came to light in August. It was a 'great lead,' a federal law enforcement source told Fox News.

"Officials wouldn't know how good it was until months later. After an exhaustive streak of intelligence gathering and high-level meetings, that tip resulted Sunday in the death of the world's most wanted terrorist at U.S. hands.

"Though President Obama gave only sparse details of the operation in his surprise address to the nation Sunday night, officials filled in the blanks where they could about the mission that brought to justice the man responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and countless acts of violence around the world.

"Though bin Laden was pursued throughout the George W. Bush administration, President Obama renewed the effort on June 2, 2009, when he signed a memo to CIA Director Leon Panetta ordering a 'detailed operation plan' for finding and capturing bin Laden.

"More than a year later, what Obama described as a 'possible lead' came in. Senior administration officials said they had been tracking an Al Qaeda courier in bin Laden's inner circle. Two years ago, the U.S. determined the areas in Pakistan where he operated. By August, they had determined the exact location in Abbottabad, Pakistan -- where bin Laden was apparently hiding out in a sprawling compound on the outskirts of town.One U.S. official said the compound was built over a six-year period. The intelligence community, led by the CIA, concluded it was custom-built to house someone of bin Laden's stature. It was enclosed by a high wall topped with barbed wire, and protected by two security gates....

"...In Abbottabad, a senior U.S. defense official said the actual operation took place at 3:30 p.m. ET.

"Officials said three adult men other than bin Laden were killed – one was believed to be bin Laden's son, the others couriers. One woman was killed when she was used as a human shield and two other women were also injured, the officials said.

"No Americans were killed, though the U.S. did lose a helicopter that went down due to mechanical failure. An official said the Pakistanis were not involved in the raid but helped provide information that led to it. Intelligence was also provided by detainees."

"Taliban commander vows to avenge Bin Laden's death"Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, (May 2, 2011)

"A Taliban commander in Afghanistan has promised that his fighters would mount attacks to avenge the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden.

"The commander, who gave his name as Qudos and operates in the northern province of Baghlan, said: 'The killing of Osama bin Laden will bring no change to jihad. Osama is the leader of al-Qaida and he is a powerful man in jihad. Losing him will be very painful for the mujahideen, but the shahadat [martyrdom] of Osama, will never stop the jihad. We will continue our fight until we liberate our lands from the Kafirs.'

"He said his fighters planned to launch an operation called Bader 'to avenge the killing of Osama' and claimed many other similar operations would be launched.

"A Taliban fighter - who had what seemed like a British accent but said he was Afghan - told the Guardian there was still a lot of suspicion among the Taliban about whether the news of Bin Laden's death was true. But he added: 'Even if he is dead, I don't think it will make any difference to our fight. He is just one of thousands of fighters, and from a different organisation.'

"A Yemeni jihadi who goes by the name of Omar claimed the death of Bin Laden would not stop al-Qaida insurgents mounting attacks. 'I am not fighting for Bin Laden to stop fighting if he is killed, we are not people who worship figures, he – may God have mercy on him – is a brave man who created and led the jihad but it will not stop here and now look what is happening with all the dictators, they are falling because we have been fighting them for so long and that's thanks to the ways of the Sheikh the shahid [the Sheikh the martyr]. Many brothers will I am sure be planning revenge attacks at the moment.'...

"...For many years, the Sheikh had been isolated, his organisation disrupted not only by US kill teams and lethal drone attacks but also by general Muslim apathy and outright hostility to the organisation. For most of the victims are Muslim: not only Shia Muslims and Sunni moderates and seculars, but also bystanders who have committed the deadly sin of buying vegetables while one of those holy warriors decides to fight his battle and start his ascendance to the hereafter.

"The killing of Bin Laden will give a new impetus to the jihadi movement that has suffered in the past few months as the aspirations of these young men have been fulfilled, not by the jihad, but by the street demonstrations led by unarmed men and women secularists and religious calling for social justice...."

"Timeline: Life of Osama bin Laden"
Edition: U.S., Reuters (May 2, 2011)

"Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan and his body was recovered, President Barack Obama announced on Monday.

"Here is a timeline of major events in bin Laden's life....

"...1976 - Studies management and economics at university in Jeddah.

"Dec 26, 1979 - Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. From 1984, bin Laden is involved in Peshawar-based Services Office to support Arab volunteers arriving to fight Soviet forces....

"..1988 - Al Qaeda (The Base) is established as a magnet for radical Muslims seeking a more fundamentalist brand of government in their home countries and joined in common hatred of the United States, Israel and U.S.-allied Muslim governments.

"1991 - Bin Laden leaves Saudi Arabia and goes into exile, having opposed the kingdom's alliance with U.S. against Iraq.

"June 1993 - Bin Laden family moves to expel Osama as shareholder in its businesses, which focus on construction.

"April 9, 1994 - Saudi Arabia, angered by bin Laden's propaganda against its rulers, revokes his citizenship.

"May 1996 - Bin Laden is forced to leave Sudan after U.S. pressure on its government, and goes to Afghanistan.

"August 1996 - Bin Laden issues a fatwa, or religious decree, that U.S. military personnel should be killed.

"October 1996 - U.S. brands bin Laden as a prime suspect in two bombings in Saudi Arabia which killed 24 U.S. servicemen and two Indians.

"August 7, 1998 - Truck bombs explode at U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killing 224, including 12 Americans. U.S. later accuses bin Laden of masterminding the bombings. President Bill Clinton orders cruise missile strikes.

"October 12, 2000 - Al Qaeda strikes at destroyer USS Cole, harbored at Yemeni port of Aden. 17 sailors are killed.

"September 11, 2001 - Three hijacked planes crash into major U.S. landmarks, destroying New York's World Trade Center and plunging into Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people are killed. In a video released later, bin Laden says collapse of towers exceeded al Qaeda's expectations....

"...December 26, 2001 - Bin Laden says on a video that the 9/11 suicide attacks were intended to stop U.S. support for Israel....

"...October 2004 - Bin Laden bursts into the U.S. election campaign in his first videotaped message in over a year to deride Bush....

"...May 18, 2008 - Bin Laden urges Muslims to break the Israeli-led blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and fight Arab governments that deal with Israel....

"May 1, 2011 - Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan and his body has been recovered by U.S. authorities, Obama says.

"Sources: Reuters; open-source material; Steve Coll: 'The Bin Ladens'

"(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Alastair Macdonald)"

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.