It has been a surreal day. With news of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the United States has scored a tremendous tactical and symbolic victory in the War on Terror. No single man better represented the face of hate that has motivated and inspired al Qaeda’s attacks against the West.
The killing of Osama bin Laden will no doubt prove a seminal moment in America’s long term struggle against the wicked inroads of al Qaeda’s twisted ideology of repression, subjugation, and intolerance. With his death, the long term prospects of al Qaeda inspired fundamentalism appealing to the masses of disaffected peoples across the world becomes diminished. The harsh realities of pursuing a life dedicated to the oppression of freedom have become very stark.
Islamists have lost their most potent symbol in their protracted war against the West; however, the short term prospects of increased terrorist activity remains heightened. With bin Laden’s death, the United States and our allies must remain vigilant. Al Qaeda and their ideological brethren will attempt to mitigate the damage to their movement inflicted by the death of their figurehead. They will attempt to do this through an act of terror, whether it be coordinated, multifaceted, or manifested through the depredations of a crazed “lone wolf” terrorist.
Last week, the New York Daily News reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, operational mastermind within the al Qaeda network, vowed to “unleash a ‘nuclear hellstorm’ if Osama Bin Laden was ever captured or assassinated.” Claiming to have possessed a nuclear weapon, KSM told his interrogators that an undisclosed location within Europe would suffer nuclear reprisal upon bin Laden’s death.
While the veracity of such boisterous claims by members of al Qaeda is dubious, there can be no doubt that al Qaeda has suffered a visceral blow to its tenability as a perpetual antagonist against the West. As such, caution must be maintained against their attempts to immediately reaffirm significance in their war against the United States and our allies. Many will attempt to fill the void left by the death of bin Laden.
The past day has been surreal indeed. Nearly ten years after suffering the anguish of September 11, 2001, the greatest assault on freedom our nation ever experienced, American vigilance was rewarded with five glorious words: Osama bin Laden is dead. Although we deserve to revel in this victory in the War on Terror, our vigilance against the broader threat of Islamic fundamentalism must not prove ephemeral. The struggle will indeed continue and we must ever protect the foundations of liberty upon which our nation was founded.