Significance of Bin Laden's Death Seen as More Symbolic Than Strategic

By Jones, Lucy | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Significance of Bin Laden's Death Seen as More Symbolic Than Strategic


Jones, Lucy, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Many European newspapers viewed the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. special forces on May 1 as being of symbolic rather than practical importance.

"The killing might well demoralize those around the globe who still regard bin Laden as a spiritual leader, a totem of resistance to the West. But in terms of operational significance, his importance was negligible," wrote Britain's Independent the following day.

"He was no longer the operational leader of al-Qaeda: that role had been ceded to his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri some years ago. And al-Qaeda itself has become less a structured terrorist organization, more a brand, a loose and inchoate network of jihadists," editorialized The Daily Telegraph, also in Britain, on May 2.

"Even with bin Laden dead, most counter-terrorism professionals expect that little will change," The Economist in London agreed on May 5. It went on to predict, however, that "the next few weeks will almost certainly see more strikes against high-value al-Qaeda targets as the Americans sift the information gathered from the raid in Abbottabad, a treasure trove of documents and computer hard drives, and put it to use before it goes stale."

"No shockwave swept through the Arab world as news of bin Laden's death spread, and that is perhaps the most fitting epitaph," noted the UK's Guardian of May 3.

"Never did a murdering monster more richly deserve a bullet in the brain," according to that day's edition of the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun. "Al-Qaeda's medieval barbarism does not appeal to newly liberated Arab nations. They want iPads and the vote, not bombings and beheadings," the newspaper added.

The view that the Arab Spring had made bin Laden's ideology bankrupt was echoed in Europe.

"The man who embodied international jihadism died just as the Arab Spring was dealing a blow to this totalitarian fantasy," opined France's Le Monde on May 2. "Since the Arab peoples are rising up in the name of democracy, not Islam or any return to the Caliphate advocated by al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden was already dead in the water politically," it maintained.

But the "widespread satisfaction" at the death of bin Laden is "tempered by caution and warnings about the continuation of his legacy," warned the Spanish daily El Pais on May 2. "We should not lower our guard against Islamic terrorism and against possible acts of revenge."

Did Pakistan Know bin Laden's Whereabouts?

Whether Pakistan was complicit in hiding bin Laden was widely speculated upon, especially in Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron recently accused Pakistan of looking "both ways" when it comes to terrorism. "Bin Laden was not only located in one of the most unlikely places for an international terrorist-the home of the Pakistan Military Academy....He was in a purpose-built bunker and had been there for some time," noted The Guardian on May 3.

"Betrayed? Of course he was," wrote Robert Fisk in Britain's Independent the same day. "By the Pakistan military or the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence? Quite possibly both. Pakistan knew where he was."

Asked that day's edition of The Daily Telegraph: "How do we respond to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's incredible assertion that bin Laden was 'not anywhere we had anticipated he would be,' or the ISI's utterly unconvincing profession of embarrassment at being caught on the hop? It is all smoke and mirrors. Throw in the fact that the country has nuclear weapons and the scale of the diplomatic challenge becomes clear," the newspaper added.

But amid cries that Pakistan should pay back substantial aid it receives from the West, in a May 4 editorial The Independent urged full Western engagement to continue with Islamabad.

"The danger is that post-bin Laden pressures will lead Washington to bypass the government and deal direct with the army, which is Pakistan's only strong institution," the newspaper wrote.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Significance of Bin Laden's Death Seen as More Symbolic Than Strategic
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.