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3 May 2011

Obama Says Osama Is No More

Osama Bin Laden is dead. This was not how I heard the news. I turned on the television, hoping to find something to watch that would help kill my time. The news was on. The news reader was stating, quite nonchalantly, that there were concerns of retaliation due to the killing of Osama Bin Laden in a fire fight with the US forces. I frowned and checked myself from switching channels.

He was dead? Wow! That is good news, I suppose.

She finished the bit she was on and a good 15 minutes later, she said, "For those of you who just joined us...", Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US military. The US President Barack Obama's announcement was rather lengthy but quite powerful. There was no emotion in his voice or on his face. Like a good orator, he hit all the right notes, said all the right things to touch the the diverse assortment of people he was addressing. He took full responsibility for the operation, inserting the word "I" in appropriate places. Some day in the future, during election campaigns and other publicity drives, snippets of this speech and video will be used, no doubt.

All the world dignitaries who were asked to comment agreed that it was a victory against terrorism and, at the same time, insisted that the war was not over yet. Obama also asserted that this was not an anti-Muslim crusade. He categorically stated that while Bin Laden had made this a war sound like it was for the Muslims, not all Muslims were terrorists or in support of his cause. It was a very positive and a much-needed statement at a time as this.

One of the voices I heard on the news hit the nail on the head when he said that even some of the Muslims who were in favour of Bin Laden's cries against the dictatorship of the West, merely supported his expression against the oppression by the West but not necessarily Bin Laden or his methods. 

This is one of those times when everyone seems to stand in agreement. The joy is for the death of the man who engineered the 9/11 World Twin Tower attacks. The war against terrorism is still one that needs to be fought. There are a lot of questions raised about the attacks, about Pakistan's involvement (or the lack of it) in the intelligence, the US helicopter that conveniently developed a snag & exploded after the attack etc. For the moment, the questions are still second to the triumphant sentiments over the killing of Osama and his sons. Ground Zero is milling with people celebrating the historical moment.

Osama Bin Laden was a name unheard of until the September 11 attacks in the United States. Once it was made public, he became the name and face of terrorism. That might be part of the reason the forces that killed him are rushing to clarify that the death of this one man is not the death of terrorism. Suspecting retaliation from the Al-Qaeda, security has been beefed up in the US. The Australian government has, on their travel advice, upped the risk factor and asked travellers to be more cautious than ever.

When the US told us Osama was a terrorist, we hated him. Now they say they have killed him, we rejoice. They have given us another name - the 2nd in command of the Al Qaeda - Ayman Al Zawahari. It is easier to hate an enemy who has a name and delight when he has gone down. They know that. The name Osama was known to them months before the 9/11 attacks and before they told us. So was Zawahari. 

The social media is, as is the norm today, inundated with this news. So is the blog world. The print and electronic media, of course. Following close on the heels of the news of Gaddafi's son being killed in an airstrike in Libya, this is the second good-prevails-evil news over the same weekend. Just before that, the media was all agog over the wedding of Prince William with Catherine (Kate) Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Is this all for real or are we in a fairy tale right now? The hero, of course, is the United States. For it is success and dark news that imprint on the mind deeper than a happy story in an expensive white gown.

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