Following the announcement of the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden late Sunday evening, University experts and a University alum who survived the Sept. 11 attacks say the implications that his killing will have on the United States and the rest of the world are uncertain.
As celebrations erupted across the nation in response to the news, members of the University community say the elation may be unwarranted since his death doesn’t necessarily dissolve the tension that spurred the war on terrorism or reverse the repercussions of the attacks that occurred almost ten years ago.
In his address to the nation, President Barack Obama said that “justice has been done” after bin Laden was shot in the head and killed in Pakistan. Obama ordered the operation, which also killed one of bin Laden’s sons, to be carried out about 38 miles north of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Bin Laden was later buried at sea, according to The Associated Press.
Political Science Prof. James Morrow said that while bin Laden’s death is undoubtedly a good thing, he feels it is less important now than it would have been 5-10 years ago, closer to the terrorist attacks.
Morrow said this is partially because bin Laden’s role in al-Qaida was as a “propagandist” who was more of a political symbol than an active leader of the radical group. Despite this, Morrow added it’s still important that bin Laden can no longer play a role in encouraging the murder of innocent people.
While the death of bin Laden will change the image of terrorism around the world, people who advocate for terrorism are still alive and thriving, Morrow said. He added that that the lack of bin Laden’s leadership won’t necessarily lead to more peaceful conditions because everyone is “driven by something different.”
Morrow anticipated that societal shifts in the world view of terrorism won’t be immediate and will go beyond just bin Laden’s death, adding that sentiment change can also be seen through the revolutions in Arab countries that have made fundamental political changes with little influence from bin Laden.
While many national officials already speculate that bin Laden’s death will help Obama’s reelection campaign, Morrow said it’s took soon to speculate since the election is 18 months in the future, noting that “voters tend to have short memories.”
History Prof. and Middle East expert Juan Cole said Obama will have an advantage in the 2012 presidential campaign because it will be difficult for a Republican candidate to challenge him on national security since bin Laden was captured and killed during his time in office.
Cole said bin Laden’s death marks “the beginning of the end of radical terrorism”, adding that Sept. 11, 2001 had a large impact on policy decisions implemented by the government, and many of the decisions were derived with the goal of dismantling al-Qaida.
As far as retaliation by al-Qaida on the nation, Cole said he doesn’t foresee any potential security risks because it is difficult for terrorist attacks to infiltrate U.S. security with the additional precautions established following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mark Tessler, vice provost for international affairs, said he thinks retaliation is a possibility because groups like al-Qaida may want to prove their strength and commitment.
While the death of bin Laden is an important step in fighting terrorism, Tessler said it will most likely not decrease terrorist activity because al-Qaida won’t stop their pursuits just because of his death.
Patrick Anderson, a University alum who survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, wrote in a press release yesterday that while he believes bin Laden’s death is beneficial for the world, it doesn’t bring life back those who died in the tragic event.
“There’s no joy in his death for me,” Anderson wrote. “I won’t be firing guns in the air. However, the world is a better place without him.”
Anderson wrote that the announcement of bin Laden’s death was bittersweet because it meant