Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden

In case you hadn't noticed, the internet has gone crazy today as the Americans have announced that they have, at last, killed Osama Bin Laden. There isn't really much yet to say on this topic, although the BBC News website will probably give you all the information you could ever need - past, present and future...

At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I do have a couple of questions about the veracity of the claims - an issue that the BBC doesn't seem to have yet addressed. I don't really doubt that it's true, but I find the fact that they've buried him already, and at sea, so there's no body to show, a little surprising - this is the kind of thing that I'd have thought you should be confirming beyond a shadow of doubt. That said, it was announced by the President, which means they are probably pretty convinced - and are at least convinced that they won't be proved wrong!
I guess it makes sense, as then he doesn't have a tomb that can be either made a focal point for terrorists or to be defaced - and you don't want terrorists attacking the military to recover the body either.

I'm not really surprised that he died in the raid, although it would be interesting to know the circumstances - it's much more convenient for the Americans that he died there - no messy trials, no questions about appropriate punishment, and no risk of terrorist attacks to carry out a jailbreak. I'll leave other people to discuss whether it's better this way, or whether justice would have been better served if he had been kept alive (although maybe that wasn't even an option in the end).

I realise reading this over that I sound like a classic conspiracy theorist, but I'm not really - I'd rather believe that the Americans are right on this one, I just thought I'd voice a couple of questions that sprang to mind and see if anyone had a good explanation for it.

I confess to some satisfaction that some form of justice appears to have been served, but it will be interesting to see what the implications of this event actually are. One fears reprisals, and also you have to recognise that, unlike in stories, killing the leader does not necessarily mean total victory. Al Qaeda is not like Voldemort, they do not have 7 Horcruxes that just need destroying before final victory is achieved. Maybe it is a step in the right direction though.

And yet, whilst on one level I feel satisfaction that he has faced the consequences of his actions, I also pity him, because he is not now going to his 72 virgins, but is rather standing before God, and will have to account for his life, and it will not go well for him. This seems to me a prompting to pray for a change of heart amongst terrorists and those who would become terrorists - and turn to a God who does not want His kingdom expanded through violence and coercion, but rather has suffered violence in order to win us through love.
Edit: For a more complete treatment of this last part, see Denise's blog.

As a related side note, I was prompted by this news to have a look through Youtube and I found this video, which contains some genuinely remarkable amateur footage of the 9/11 attacks, there's an astonishingly close view of the second plane hitting around 2:22. I still find it quite hard to get my round the fact that 9/11 really happened in America. I mean, obviously it did, but like with 7/7 you just don't expect things like this to happen in 'safe' countries like the US and the UK (I live in the days after IRA bombs after all).


  1. Yeah, I was suspicious when I first heard, but I like Obama too much to seriously believe that he'd lie about it.
    Must admit I feel surprisingly disturbed about how little effort appears to have gone into taking him alive - he may be the most wanted man in the world, but it doesn't seem right to me that US troops can show up in another country and just start shooting people :S

  2. I'm not sure how much of an Obama-fan I am, although he was quite funny at the White House Correspondent's Dinner ( if you didn't see it).

    As I said, I'm not really surprised they didn't take him alive - makes things a whole load simpler now that he's dead. Don't have to go through court, don't have to risk attacks to free him - it could be ages before they achieve anything.

    Yeah, I see what you're saying about US troops, although I'm assuming they got the go ahead from the Pakistani government - and I have a low tolerance of terrorists. Sometimes I worry I'm a bit too much of a pragmatist when it comes to these villainous types. I'd have been tempted to get the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-Il long before now... :P