Who deserves the credit for taking out OBL?

On May 1st EST (May 2nd Pakistani time), the US won an important victory – Osama Bin Laden was eliminated, along with his son and other terrorists, by Navy SEALs covered by AC-130s, AH-64 Apache helicopters, and others. The CIA was tipped off by the huge, oversized mansion OBL lived in, which was much bigger than any home nearby, and aided by the information obtained from terrorists captured after 9/11/2001. (And who said Gitmo and enhanced interrogation techniques were bad?) Once they made sure OBL was present there, the President authorized an operation to kill the Al-Qaida chief. The entire operation took only 40 minutes and no American or civilian casualties were reported, although one helicopter was lost during the operation.

Unfortunately, President Obama is now trying to claim credit for himself. His entire speech on the subject was about how HE supposedly took out OBL, how he supposedly ordered the CIA to focus on him, and that he ordered the mission. The truth is that OBL was the CIA’s target #1 since at least 9/11, and shortly after those terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration issued Dead Or Alive posters of him and Ayman al-Zawahiri and ordered the CIA to focus on him and treat him as its target #1. Since that day, the CIA was prioritizing him as a target above everything else. And it was the ISI that probably tipped the CIA off.

Obama had nothing to do with this besides authorizing yesterday’s operation (i.e. allowing it to occur – a presidential authorization was required). He does not deserve any credit for this. Only members of the military and CIA employees do. They are the ones who worked hard for 9.5 years to find OBL and who fought on May1st to enter his mansion and killed him.

Now, what will the world look like, now that OBL is dead? Will it be much safer?

The answer is, unfortunately, no.

The death of OBL means that the world no longer needs to fear this terrorist. It has also surely sent a shiver down the spine of every surviving terrorist on the planet: you are not immune, and you will eventually receive your punishment. If OBL could be taken out, every terrorist can be taken out.

The death of OBL has also repaired the morale of the American society, which is important.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Let’s not overestimate the importance of this achievement. OBL was, during the last several years, only the symbolic/nominal leader of AQ. He had been sick for the last several years and could not coordinate the organization and its operations. Ayman al-Zawahiri and other terrorists were doing this in lieu of OBL. Moreover, killing OBL does not mean Al-Qaeda is dead, although it does, hopefully, signal, the beginning of the end of that organization. AQ, as the US intel community undoubtely knows, is a loose coalition of terrorist groups loosely affiliated with each other, operating independently of each other – as President Bush warned the American people 11 days after 9/11.

So killing OBL does not mean killing, or even incapacitating, Al-Qaeda.

Nor does it mean that there are no other threats to America. There are numerous threats to the United States: Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, China, and Russia. Countering them will require a credible strategy as well as ample resources, and that requires enlarging the defense budget, which is inadequate.

One moral meaning of this achievement, however, is that the 9.5 years of fighting, and the ultimate sacrifice made by 1,200 American troopers and dozens of soldiers from allied countries, was not in vain. Until yesterday, most Americans wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and many people around the world believed that all the sacrifice made during this war was in vain. This victory proves it wasn’t. Sure, the US doesn’t need 100,000 troopers in Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taleban. Operation Kill OBL was conducted by just two SEAL teams, 3 AH-64 Apache helos, several other helicopters, and AC-130 gunships. A massive army is not needed to defeat Al-Qaeda and the Taleban. But at least this victory has proven that the sacrifices made by all American troopers during this war was not in vain.


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