Bin Laden is dead, what next?
May 06, 2011
The biggest-ever manhunt of the United States came to an end when American naval commandos and CIA agents killed the world’s most-wanted man, Osama Bin Laden along with his son, and three body guards hiding in a mansion in Abbotabad in the wee hours of Monday last.
Despite various negative aspects vis-à-vis Pakistan’s role in this whole game, ranging from presence of Bin Laden not only on Pakistani soil but just 800 KM away from premier Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, to US “mistrust” on Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies regarding this operation, Not only President Obama, but the US intelligence agencies, which otherwise leave no opportunity to assail ISI, have so far been very positive about Pakistan’s role. Why do US top hierarchy and intelligence officials appear to be soft towards Pakistan? The answer is very simple. Though, Pakistan’s official stand is that it’s role in the operation was limited to intelligence sharing and its armed forces did not play any role in the ground operation, however, background interviews with senior government and military officials tell a different story. Even if Pakistan publicly denies its role in the operation for some reasons, which for many may be baseless, there are many questions that contest this “admission”.
The news of Bin Laden’s death fell like a bombshell not only in Pakistan, but also all over the world as with the confirmation of his death by US President Barrack Obama in a live telecast from White House, TV channels worldwide jumped into the fray with airing minute-to minute, but conflicting details of the operation that lasted for 40 minutes.
Details are still sketchy about the circumstances leading to the operation and killing of the Al Qaeda chief. And the throwing of his body just after a few hours his death into Arabian Sea after “performing Islamic rituals” by the US navy, further fanned the speculations.
Reports trickling through CIA and other official US sources suggest that Bin Laden was killed with a single bullet to his head, whereas Pakistani intelligence officials suggest that the most-wanted man might have been killed by one of his guards in line with his will to avert his capture.
Some reports, quoting US and Pakistani intelligence officials, suggest that the Al Qaeda chief and his aides paid tough resistance before they were killed. These reports are on the basis of information provided by a 12-year old girl who was reportedly found hiding in the compound when Pakistani armed forces took the control after the US helicopters left with bodies and injured.
This girl, according to intelligence sources, pretends to be one of the daughters of Bin Laden, and she reportedly told the intelligence officials that her father put up a tough resistance and refused to surrender until his body was riddled with bullets by the CIA and US navy hitmen.
The army troops, reportedly, also took hold of an injured woman, who claims to be one of the two wives of Bin Laden present at the mansion at the time of operation. She reportedly received a bullet to her eye, and admitted to an army hospital where her condition is described as out of danger.
On the other hand, the US media, quoting government and intelligence officials, reported that a woman and three male aides, including Bin Laden’s son were also killed in the operation, while “some” others were injured who were taken away by the commandos with them.
Pakistani media, quoting intelligence sources, reported that the army personnel took some injured into custody after the operation, including a son of Bin Laden, who was admitted to combine military hospital Abbotabad.
The body of one of the Bin Laden’s guards, whom the officials described as Afghani or tribesman, was also found lying in the compound. If the US commandos took away all the deceased and injured with them, then how come the left the girl, the injured woman, and the Afghani guard’s body behind?? They might not be that important for them. Who knows?
As the time passes, more speculations and conspiracy theories will surface. Whether Bin Laden was actually killed in that particular operation, or he had died much before and his death was very much in the knowledge of top US officials? or this “ drama” has been staged to ensure implementation on Obama’s proposed pull out from war-stricken Afghanistan, which has been eating up millions of dollars every month?. Why were US officials in a hurry to dispose Bin Laden’s body?? Was the US contention that Bin Laden’s body had been disposed in hurry so that he could not get the status of a martyr, the actual reason? Why didn’t US officials release the video or pictures of the Bin Laden after his death as they did in case of Saddam Hussain and his two sons? Is the US mission in the region is accomplished with the killing of its most-wanted man??
These all million-dollars questions will continue to haunt the people of this region for a longer period.
Despite various negative aspects vis-à-vis Pakistan’s role in this whole game, ranging from presence of Bin Laden not only on Pakistani soil but just 800 KM away from premier Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, to US “mistrust” on Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies regarding this operation, Not only President Obama, but the US intelligence agencies, which otherwise leave no opportunity to assail ISI, have so far been very positive about Pakistan’s role.
President Obama, in his speech in which he confirmed the death of Bin Laden, also admitted that the ten-year long cooperation between Pakistan and United States led to the death of America’s public enemy number one.
Senator John Kerry, the head of the Senate’s powerful foreign affairs committee, too, refused to hurl any accusation against Pakistan in reply to various hard-hitting questions regarding latter’s role by US journalists saying that the vicinity of Pakistan military academy to Bin Laden’s hideout should not be made an issue at this stage.
Why do US top hierarchy and intelligence officials appear to be soft towards Pakistan? The answer is very simple. Though, Pakistan’s official stand is that it’s role in the operation was limited to intelligence sharing and its armed forces did not play any role in the ground operation, however, background interviews with senior government and military officials tell a different story.
Even if Pakistan publicly denies its role in the operation for some reasons, which for many may be baseless, there are many questions that contest this “admission”.
If this is the case then why US government and intelligence officials are silent and in fact praising Pakistan's role vis-à-vis Bin Laden's hunt? The army's premier Kakul is just 800 meters away from the scene. The US helicopters flew from Jalalabad and reached Abbotabad, which is very much deep inside Pakistan in 40 minutes, and remained engaged there for 40 more minutes. There was heavy gunfire, four huge explosions, which were heard by the area residents and a helicopter crash. And the army troops stationed just 800 meter away remained unaware. Does it make sense to any one?.
Senior military officials confirm that Pakistan army troops were involved in operation as they provided back up support at the time of operation. Area residents told BBC and other foreign and local media that before two hours of the operation, the army personnel ordered them to switch off their lights and remain indoors.
The US forces commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus paid an extraordinary visit to Islamabad on April 25, where he held a meeting with General Kayani a Chaklala Airbase. The two generals are even said to have taken a short trip to an undisclosed location on board an aircraft. The same night General Petraeus had through teleconferencing attended a White House meeting chaired by President Obama.
Observers believe that President Obama referred to that meeting in his speech, in which he announced Bin Laden’s death.
The very next day, Pakistan’s top military coordination body — Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee — held its quarterly session, which was attended among others by ISI Chief Lt General Shuja Pasha, who otherwise isn’t a regular member of the body. And it is to be recorded that the meeting was unscheduled.
Observers also give importance to General Pasha’s recent but extra ordinary visit to United States and his meetings with CIA chief Leon Pennetta.
Salim Safi, a Peshawar-based senior security analyst says that there had been a close cooperation between the CIA and ISI as regards hunt for Bin Laden.
“There have been no differences between the two sides on Bin Laden. the difference is on Taliban and future of Afghanistan", safi said.
“But Pakistan does not want to face the backlash of his death, on the one hand, and on the other hand, Pakistani government and the Army, do not want to be to center of hatred from anti-US elements in all over the world, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
WHAT NEXT: Security experts have come up with different views on the future of Al Qaeda after Bin Laden’s death. Many believe that Bin Laden’s death would not affect Al Qaeda to a huge extent because the network has been operating without active participation of Bin Laden. According to them, The America’s number one enemy was acting as spirit behind Al Qaeda as a symbolic commander-in-chief, whereas the structural and operational commands were and are being looked after by Aymen Al-Zuwahiri, the new possible head of the network, and said-al-Adil respectively.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based senior expert on Afghan affairs, who interviewed Bin Laden twice, thinks that Al-Qaeda and its galvanized groups have got a martyr to inspire more youths, particularly in Arab world.
He believes that Al Qaeda had already gone weak and was not working as a unified group even with Bin Laden alive. It had already been splintered in various groups under different names in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia and other countries. In his opinion, Bin Laden's death will give a symbolic and physiological relief to US administration and people because he was considered the mastermind of 9/11 attacks.
However, the real conflict is between US and Taliban, and Bin Laden's death will not affect Taliban's resistance. so, in short term, it's a great victory for US but in long run, US still has to face the resistance in Afghanistan and other parts of the world due to its policies which are creating many Bin Ladens every day, Yusufzai thought.
TALIBAN: The death of Bin laden, has undoubtedly given a sigh of relief to the US administration, besides causing a huge blow to the Al-Qaeda network, however it would hardly affect the Taliban insurgency in war-hacked Afghanistan, security and defense analysts believe.
“This is, no doubt, a major blow to the global terrorism, and will certainly weaken the morale and spirit of Al-Qaeda network”, Rahimullah Yusufzai, said
But it will not affect the Taliban movement in Afghanistan because he (Bin Laden) had nothing to do with that.
But, he thinks, that America won’t be able to take any advantage of this big victory in Afghanistan.
“Bin Laden had been running from here to there to save his life, whereas Taliban have been giving a tough time to US-led forces in Afghanistan on ground. There is a huge difference between the objectives and structure of two organizations”, he maintained.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while, welcoming the killing of Bin Laden, has warned Taliban leader Mullah Omer to learn a lesson from former’s death, and stop fighting.
“The Afghan and US officials instead of issuing warnings to Taliban, should get ready to face the operation Badr of Taliban, who will try their best to neutralize the moral boost of the US-led forces due to Bin Laden’s death”, Salim Safi, said referring to Taliban’s proposed spring operation against foreign forces.
“Taliban’s movement is a localized movement. It has no foreign agenda, whereas Al-Qaeda has an international agenda. the two (agendas) do not match each other”.
Yusufzai agrees with Safi.
“Bin Laden’s death will further loosen the Al-Qaeda’s grip and influence both within Taliban ranks and in Afghanistan. It will help Taliban tighten their grip in the war-stricken country”, he said.
Safi thinks that Bin Laden’s death is a positive development as far as Taliban movement is concerned.
“Taliban government was ousted just because of Bin Laden. Many Taliban see Bin laden responsible for Afghanistan’s current situation, which has forced them to fight”, Safi thought.
He said that the demise of Al-Qaeda chief would strengthen the anti-Bin Laden faction within Taliban ranks.
“His death will bring an end to this division as well”, he opined.
Hamid Mir, an Islamabad-based analyst, and last journalist who had interviewed Bin laden in 2001 in Jalalabad, agrees.
“A major faction of Taliban had disassociated itself from Al-Qaeda various years ago, and has been engaged in its activities against foreign forces at its own”, Mir, who interviewed Bin Laden thrice, told weekly Pulse.
“Therefore, there is no question of any adverse effect on Taliban movement due to his death”.
Mir observes that Bin Laden’s death can equally benefit both Obama administration and Taliban vis-à-vis Afghanistan.
“Now, Obama can implement his proposed pull out from Afghanistan as he has a big reason for that. On the other hand, the biggest hurdle that never allowed US-Taliban talks to be fruitful, is eliminated”, he added.