From Abbottabad, the corpse of the most wanted man in U.S. Intelligence history was flown back to Afghanistan for positive identification. Several years earlier, Osama’s sister had died of brain cancer in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Her body had been immediately subpoenaed by the FBI so that it could be later used to identify the al-Qaeda leader if he was ever caught. Tissue samples taken from her brain provided a 99.97 percent match to the DNA of the man the SEAL team had killed.
Though there will surely be conspiracy theorists who will forever claim Bin Laden was taken alive to be interrogated or tortured in some CIA secret prison, never to see the light of day, perhaps the most telling evidence was the fact that nobody from al-Qaeda disputed the fact their leader had been killed.
There should be zero doubt. Osama Bin Laden is dead.
In Islam, the dead are generally buried in the ground, without a casket, before the next of five daily prayer periods have passed. The White House feared that giving the world’s most infamous terrorist a known grave would be too risky so they opted to disposed of Bin Laden’s corpse somewhere it could never be located.
The Indian Ocean.
Bin Laden was placed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, where he was transported to his final resting place. A Muslim seaman from the U.S. Navy recited the prayers and ensured the body was washed and wrapped in a cloth in accordance to religious custom. Shortly past 1 am EDT, on May 2, 2011, Bin Laden’s bullet-riddled corpse was given a burial at sea.
Osama Bin Laden’s death is a major blow to the organization he helped found. His loss is immeasurable. He was a charismatic leader who was not only responsible for the masterminding of terrorism against the West but a figurehead in the fundraising efforts from sympathizers from around the world. Sure, the al-Qaeda loyalists, the small group of fanatical fighters who swore their allegiance to Bin Laden’s crusade, remains active but U.S. led coalition forces have been chipping away at their ranks over recent years, killing important lieutenants with drone strikes and capturing others. With al-Qaeda’s experienced and skilled leaders being removed from the equation at a rapid pace, along with growing counterintelligence operations being pursued to flush their operatives out of hiding, can this radical wing of anti-American extremists survive?
The vast amount of intel taken from Bin Laden’s residence could also signal the death knell of al-Qaeda’s future. The mobile phones and thumb drives were most likely used by the two couriers to carry data back and forth to al-Qaeda operatives in the outside world. Counterterrorism technicians will trace the phone numbers found and hard drives will be meticulously searched for clues. They will sift through every bit and byte of data for mentions of explosives or keywords such as “weddings,” often used by al-Qaeda to signify a bombing.
It is certain the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden will go down as a major U.S. Military victory and the greatest terrorist manhunt in history. After the mission, retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey called JSOC “the most dangerous people on the face of the earth.” There is no reason whatsoever to question the veracity of this claim.
Yet, some say the killing of Osama Bin Laden will not destroy al-Qaeda, nor will it paralyze its fanatical followers. This is not the equivalent of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. Our foes may be deeply injured but it does not mean they have been fully vanquished.
Less than a week after the assault, al-Qaeda reportedly vowed revenge on one of the radical Islamic militant websites known to post messages from its leaders.
"The blood of the holy warrior sheik, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is too precious to us and to all Muslims to go in vain," the statement read in part. "We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries."
In the wake of Bin Laden’s killing, many questions remain.
Although this suburban sprawl of Abbottabad is home to many retired members of the Pakistani military command, and Bin Laden’s own bedroom was situated less than one mile from the Pakistani Military Academy, it may never be clear how much Pakistan knew about Bin Laden’s whereabouts. In the days following Bin Laden’s death, there was even speculation that the compound at Abbottabad had also been home to a guesthouse frequently used by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
What effect this covert raid and the secrets that may be revealed will have with America’s relationship with Pakistan is unsure. As an ally, can they be trusted?
From 9/11 to Osama Bin Laden’s death, the United States spent nearly $1.4 Trillion on the War on Terror. Thousands of brave young men and women have given their lives in the name of Liberty.
In the end, was it worth the cost?
The gut punch Osama Bin Laden landed on 9/11 still stings. What he took from country on that terrible day can never be replaced, nor can the lives of the thousands of innocent men, women and children murdered in the name of some crusade. And even though it will still be a long time until we Americans fully heal from the pain of the worst terrorist attacks on our soil, we can rest assured that the man who became the epitome of evil in the modern world will never do this again.
It should be hard to deny the value of Bin Laden’s death on a wounded America. Even the 75-year old Dalai Lama implied that the killing of Osama Bin Laden was justified.
"Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened,” the holy leader told a crowd at USC just days after the killing, also adding that sometimes you have to take counter measures.
Though Bin Laden is survived by at least 18 children. It is believed that none of his sons have ever played any real operational roles in al-Qaeda or were ever groomed to in any way succeed their father as the head of the world’s most notorious terrorist organization.
Are there any young like-minded radicals out there willing to take Osama Bin Laden’s place as the leader of al-Qaeda’s jihad against the West? Truth is there are dozens, if not hundreds. There also has been much speculation that al-Qaeda may soon see the base of its operations move to Yemen where sympathies for their cause run deep. Only time will tell whether we have cut the head off of the snake or just one of the many heads of the hydra.
Still, there is also reason to believe that al-Qaeda is already running scared. Just three days after Bin Laden’s death was announced to the world, Khaled Hathal Abdullah al-Atifi, an al-Qaeda operative on many wanted lists, phoned authorities in Pakistan to surrender. Obviously, to al-Atifi, a jail cell was preferable than a bullet to the head.
So if the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden is any indication, all other terrorist enemies of America would best think twice lest they believe they can win this war. For what awaits them is not martyrdom or success, but more than likely, a gruesome death at the hands of U.S. soldiers.
On May 5th, just four days after speaking to the world on live television to announce the death of the man U.S. Military forces had hunted for almost a decade, President Barack Obama flew to New York City and paid a visit to Ground Zero. There he spoke with police officers and firefighters whose brothers were lost on 9/11 along with the 2,752 people killed in the World Trade Center. There at the site of the attacks, the Commander in Chief somberly laid a wreath patriotically created out of red, white and blue flowers. No grand speech was made. Heads were bowed in prayer and reflection.
“When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” declared the President.
Though his words held a double-edged meaning, this day was not in any way about the murderer who had been brought to justice, but about the murdered themselves. The American story has always been one of survival and struggle, from our colonial ancestors who founded this land to build a better tomorrow for their children to the men and women who fought to preserve freedom both here and overseas.
Mostly the American story is one of remembrance.
We will never forget those who were lost.
We can and will survive anything because no matter how hard our enemies may try, they can never kill the indomitable spirit that defines us.