For the Muslim world, Osama Bin Laden’s death is like the lifting of a curse.Ever since 9/11, his name was synonymous with terrorism. But just how important Osama Bin Laden has actually been in recent years is highly debatable. He put out the occasional propaganda video but he no longer organized terror attacks on Westerners, on Arab governments or anyone who did not sympathize with his warped cause. Partly that was because he was on the run but also because Al-Qaeda was never a centralized, structured organization. It was, and is, more a state of mind, a loose association of fellow devotees. There are fellow Al-Qaedas all over the word — in Iraq, in Jordan, in North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, in Russia. There are reportedly cells in the UK, in Germany and Spain, even in the US. We have seen the work of one of them just last week in Morocco. Nonetheless, for all of them, Bin Laden was a symbol, a personification of their hates, their alienation and their perverted dreams.
In the same way too, he was a symbol to all those who because of 9/11 had every reason to hate and fear Al-Qaeda. He inspired admiration; he inspired loathing.For that reason, Bin Laden’s death is of immense significance. A powerful symbol has been destroyed. It has taken a long time, but it is an important victory for justice. A mass murderer whose victims included so many innocent Saudis and foreigners in the Kingdom has come to his just deserts.For the Muslim world, it is like a lifting of a curse. We complain, with very good reason, at the spreading tide of international Islamophobia but he was the cause of so much of it. He, more than anyone else in human history, with his twisted version of Islam, made it feared and despised among millions upon millions of people who had never known about it before. He perverted its image and made them come to think of it as a religion of death and hatred.
No civilized person can ever take pleasure at the death of another, but in this case the hope must be that this death will draw line under 9/11 and all the dysfunctional relationships and mistrust it has brought to the world. Not that anyone will be so naïve as to believe it. The American media and unscrupulous politicians there and elsewhere will continue to see Al-Qaeda threats at every turn, as they have in the Arab uprisings. The US military presence in Iraq will not end nor NATO’s in Afghanistan. The hunt will now be on for Ayman Zuwahiri, Al-Qaeda’s evil genius.Bin Laden’s death will undoubtedly demoralize his misguided admirers. Invariably, the demoralized try to rally their spirits by denying the cause of their demoralization. That is happening already. There are voices saying that Bin Laden either died long ago or that he is still alive, certainly not killed by the Americans. The disheartened need to deceive themselves. So, while claiming the Americans are lying about Bin Laden’s death, those followers will want revenge. Because there are so many Al-Qaeda offshoots, so many Bin Laden wannabees, his death will not end the dangers of terrorism. Greater vigilance will be needed than ever before — here in Saudi Arabia, in the region, around the world — perhaps most of all in the US where Al-Qaeda-inspired militants will plot and plan. – Arabnews