The Bin Laden killing’s link with the Arab Revolt
The photos released of the fortified villa in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden died on Sunday night, May 2, show a satellite dish as well as cables and wires snaking along the outer and inner walls. Smashed computers appear in shots of the interior rooms. Far from dispensing with electronic devices and Internet connections as widely reported, the fortress that was the al Qaeda leader's last haven proves to have been equipped with both.
All this up-to-date electronic technology would have opened the six-year old building wide to outside intelligence penetration and surveillance. Bin Laden additionally suffered from a kidney disease and was dependent on dialysis treatment and outside medical care – another porthole into the Bin Laden's establishment.
There was no need therefore to follow the trail of the couriers described as leading the CIA to the hideout of the most wanted terrorist in the world. He occupied a large three-storey building which stuck out on the skyline of the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, 120 kilometers from Islamabad, and towered over neighboring buildings. Pakistani intelligence must have been curious, to say the least, about this sizeable compound when it was built in 2005 just 100 meters from a military academy in a small town housing a military base and generals' residences.
Therefore, the repeated statements by US officials that the Navy Seals' special operation took place without Pakistani knowledge sounds like a hollow attempt to absolve Islamabad of involvement in the killing of the arch terrorist in the eyes of the Muslim world.
US President Barack Obama said he received his first lead to bin Laden's whereabouts last August. Why then did it take nine months for him to order the targeted operation? And why did the US intelligence and military need all that time to prepare it?
They are only two of the puzzling questions surrounding the episode. Might the answers lie in its juxtaposition with the Arab Revolt, or Arab Spring, which flared first in Tunisia in December 2010, then spread to Egypt and played out in February 2011 and flared in Syria in April 2011?
Was al Qaeda's spirit and mastermind eliminated before his networks could move in on the national and Islamic struggles which are still unfolding in Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli and Damascus?
The linkage was drawn by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her first statement on the master-terrorist's death Monday: "…history would record that bin Laden's death had come at a time when peoples in the Middle East and North Africa were rejecting the extremist narrative and were standing up for freedom and democracy."
Obama's adviser on terror John Brennan said later: "I would hope that the people of the Middle East will understand that the time for terror is over."
That of course will depend on how those peoples view the US targeted operation to kill the head of al Qaeda. The reaction in some places was of disbelief in the American claim to have killed him and demands for proof of his identity. The statement by "an American intelligence official" to Reuter was not helpful. He said "US Special forces set out to kill Osama bin Laden and dump his body in the sea to make it harder for the al Qaeda founder to become a martyr."
The head of the Al-Azhar Supreme Sunni Council of Egypt reacted by condemning the dumping of bin Laden's body in the sea as violating the tenets of Islam and human norms.
It was noted in Arab capitals, that he was killed in the second US targeted operation against an Arab leader in three days – NATO failed in its attempt to kill Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi Saturday night, April 30.
At his news briefing Monday night, John Brennan tried to soften the hard edges of resentment building up in Arab and Muslim opinion. To settle questions about identity, he reported that a DNA test had showed a 99.9 percent match against his relatives, but declined to say if and when photos of his body would be released..
Obama's adviser on terror went on to insist that Bin Laden had been given a religious Muslim funeral before being buried at sea. He also explained that the al Qaeda leader would have been taken alive had there been the opportunity.
Brennan disclosed that a large quantity of documents had been seized in the Abbottabad villa and was being checked. He added that it was inconceivable that the dead terrorist did not have a support system.