Of course I’m happy our military got him, but he is only a bit player in the overall scheme of things. My immediate inclination on hearing the news was to see what Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch had to say, and it’s just as I expected. If you thought this thing (Islamic jihad against the West) would be over when we got OBL and that somehow it was all about Al-Qaeda, forget it!
Here is Spencer at Human Events (Osama gets his virgins), first quoting from a letter from Osama about Islamic supremacy:
“….It is the religion of Jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah’s Word and religion reign Supreme.”
Then this (emphasis mine):
This perspective on Islam wasn’t just bin Laden’s. Millions of Muslims worldwide share it, and that won’t end with the death of Osama. The US is not – and never will be – at war with Islam, as Obama says, but significant elements of Islam are – and always will be – at war with the U.S. Nothing that happened during that firefight in Abbottabad will change that, and Obama’s continued focus on al-Qaeda as if it were a singular and eccentric group of non-Muslim Muslims that is the cause of all our troubles only perpetuates the unreality that has already led to so many disastrous policy errors.
Until Barack Obama and other Western leaders face the fact that Osama bin Laden was operating within the broad mainstream of Islamic teaching, they will be constantly puzzled by the advent of new bin Ladens, and new al-Qaedas, all over the globe. How is it that all these disparate individuals and groups misunderstand Islam in all the same way? Until U.S. officials can answer that question correctly, we will have made no headway, no matter how many al-Qaeda masterminds we corner and kill in Pakistan.
I saw this attitude, this fixation on Al-Qaeda, first hand when I attended the Senate Homeland Security hearings in March 2009 (here) on Al-shabaab and the radicalization of Somali (former refugees) youths in the US. Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins were visibly relieved when intelligence experts testified that Al-shabaab and Al-Qaeda were not related, as if somehow that made it all o.k. Of, course subsequently we learned that they are linked. But, it was as if somehow the origin of their animus toward the West was not from the same source, so it wasn’t quite the same threat. Well, it was, and it is.
Did you see how many college students were cheering in the streets early today in New York and Washington, DC? It was both heartening (their patriotism) and a little sad. Those twentysomethings have lived half their lives since 9/11 and I suspect somehow they think, as some silly commentator said on FoxNews this morning—the curse has been lifted. Sorry, no.
[Cross-posted from Refugee Resettlement Watch, here]