Does the killing of Osama bin Laden solve the problem of terrorism?

Just after it was declared that Osama bin Laden has been shot dead someone tweeted, “Good, now can I bring my shampoo when travelling by air?”

Although it was said in jest there are many who believe that the killing of Osama bin Laden is a big victory against terrorism. Hardly. It is a moral victory, of course, and a victory that has come too late. Right now in the world of terrorism bin Laden holds no significance. He had begun to turn into a relic. With public rising against dictators (most of them supported by the USA, ironically) all over the Arab world and with no support from Osama bin Laden and his ilk he has been relegated to insignificance. The last video he released was in 2007 .Understandly there haven’t been much hue and cry over his killing in the Arab world save for a few commisoratory demonstrations by fringe fanatical groups.

Big terrorist names only act as inspiration, the actual groups at the ground level mostly work independently due to logistical problems. Terrorist groups derive massive support from governments and secret agencies and they are basically tools in the hands of these governments and agencies (for example Pakistan, China and Sudan). So killing one leader here and another there isn’t going to make the problem of terrorism go away. There has to be an international consensus regarding how to deal with such regimes. Unless this is done no amount of terrorist-extermination is going to provide a solution and we will keep on living in the contemporary fearful atmosphere.

Since terrorism may exist in many forms we also need a clear definition of what exactly is terrorism so that it becomes easier to deal with them. Terrorism for one can be justified resistance for anotherr. For example there are many groups fighting against unjust governments and despotic rulers. Just because you’re taking up arms against an establishment or a government this shouldn’t turn you into an internationally certified terrorist. Take for instance Maoist insurgency in some parts of India. There is a known collusion between various mafias, industries and government agencies and they are perpetually exploiting local people, looting them, depriving them of their lands and resources and murdering them. When the law that is supposed to protect you begins to exploit you and there is no platform available to you where you can voice your dissent sometimes you have no option but to take up arms.

Having said that, I’m not saying that blowing up buildings and buses and killing people in the name of a justified struggle is excusable, I’m just trying to explain the difference between a resistance and an act of blowing up a building like the World Trade Center.

Of course there are arguments and counter arguments in every case as it already happens. There are apologists who don’t know where to draw a line and then there are “civilised” extremists who again, don’t know where to draw a line. There is no balanced analysis of the reasons why terrorism crops up. People often say that the very ideology of Islam breeds violent Jihad and terrorism but personally I don’t agree with this. There are murderers and fanatics in every religion. The recent peaceful protests in countries like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have shown that Muslims don’t need support from Jihadi groups and professional terrorists to rise up against their governments.

It’s a pleasant development that Facebook played a more significant role than the al Qaeda.

Just as there are fringe fanatic groups in every religion there are also fringe fanatic groups among Muslims.

In order to contain and destroy terrorism the international community first of all needs to realise what actually breeds terrorism and what sort of support various terrorist organisations derive from established governments. There has to be a sincere effort. The way America has been turning a blind eye to Pakistani adventurism is appalling and it smells of some deep-rooted conspiracy, whatever may be the reason. So we need to get rid of such dualism and hypocrisy and come straight to the point. It took the Americans more than nine years to hunt down Osama bin Laden. It shouldn’t have taken them more than two months had the effort been sincere and realistic. Needless war and destruction has been imposed on multiple countries in the guise of finding him.

The Muslim community all over the world needs to be more vociferous against the violent elements amidst the community just as they have risen against their dictators. Being a terrorist shouldn’t be an act of valour and terrorists must be treated as criminals and hence families supporting them must face shame rather than incite awe. Whenever you want to glorify terrorism just think of Beslan (Russia) where they had taken 100s of schoolchildren hostages and forced them to take off their clothes or the innocent Jewish family butchered during 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It is very difficult to change a cultural ideology but community leaders must make a start somewhere; during Friday prayers every week they can exhort them to distance themselves from violent and terrorist elements. This is a long-term goal and may take many decades to show some results.

The short-term goals must be to employ a zero tolerance policy against countries abetting and supporting terrorist groups in the name of Jihad and freedom struggle. Indigenously the justice system must be made stronger and effective and if the United Nations need to but in then so be it. For instance if the Indian government doesn’t go into the root cause of the Maoist insurgency then the United Nations must interfere. When you start killing your own people then it is no longer a question of sovereignty and internal matter.

So it has to be a multi-pronged approach: strengthen domestic justice system and implement a zero tolerance policy against countries breeding terrorism. Only then the problem of terrorism can be solved.

One thought on “Does the killing of Osama bin Laden solve the problem of terrorism?

  1. E Pradeep

    Yes, the killing of Osama will not stop terrorism; it could be at best a pit stop for terrorist groups. Osama headed Al-Qaeda and there were many other organizations (like Hamas and the Brotherhood of Islam) that were not in agreement with many of Osama’s ideas but had to remain in his shadows. Now, his death could lead to the fragmentation of the groups into several splinter groups which will operate possibly more sporadically until a leader emerges who can bring all of them under one umbrella.

    Countries are willing to arm themselves to get into bloody conflicts but are not willing to look at peaceful solutions because of too many vested interests involved at the ground level. The reason that the Maoists have made good ground is primarily due to the indifference of the State but they do not have a solution themselves and remain undemocratic institutions in themselves; no wonder they perish after some time (like the LTTE). Killing can never resolve any issue but it is much easier than to get into the root of the issue.

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