May 2, 2011

O.B.L. K.I.A.

Some startling news this morning. Osama Bin Laden was killed during a raid by special forces on a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. It was often assumed Bin Laden was hiding out in the mountains or rural areas under the protection of tribal leaders but nothing could farther from the truth. He was hiding in a (for Pakistan) luxury house, surrounded by 3 to 5 meter walls with barbwire. An interesting bit of information, and what the intelligence services also noticed, is that garbage was burned on the grounds. Safe to assume that Bin Laden rarely if never left the grounds.

In a firefight that lasted 40 minutes (!) Bin Laden was shot in the head along with other accomplices. On the way out a special forces helicopter malfunctioned and had to be destroyed. Osama's body was taken (for identification) but will be buried at sea according to Islamic law which requires the burial within 24 hours of death. Detailed photographs and DNA samples will undoubtedly prove this was public enemy number 1, although the results of the DNA testing will take a couple of days. I'm sure footage will be forthcoming of the burial ceremony and any research done on the case minutely documented.

Personally, I'm glad they caught him but I would have rather seen him in a court of law. Right now you can bet that many Al Qaeda supporters are infuriated and planning revenge. All that martyr stuff they often advocate will surely be ignited into bigger proportions. When you have such a person like Bin Laden in a courtroom and show (the world) all the atrocities he committed, that sends a far more objective and powerful message than his quick death in a gun battle. At least, that's the way I see it.

To my amazement, a spontaneous celebration started in front of the White House and on Ground Zero. People were cheering and chanting "U.S.A." and waving the flag. Total party time. Many news channels also reported this case with an air of relief and happiness. News websites idem ditto. The death of Osama Bin Laden and his associates was presented as a good thing and everybody was 'dancing' to that tune.

Seeing that brought me back in my memory. Ten years ago just after the 9/11 attacks I watched a video segment from Al Jazeera, the Arabian television network. In it they showed Palestinians who just found out about the terrorist attacks on the United States. I was appalled to see that many Palestinians were cheering and dancing, waving flags of Hamas. At the time I was thinking; 'how on Earth can you rejoice over the deaths of so many others?' And to be totally honest, I felt somewhat of the same sentiment today watching the Americans celebrating.

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