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It is a rare moment when humanity rejoices for one man’s death. Fortunately, such an honour is reserved only for the most evil of people, and the celebrations and partying in New York are hardly surprising. For those people, Bin Laden was the man behind 9/11, an event which not only killed thousands of innocent people but was also an act which symbolically humiliated America. For these reasons, 9/11 haunts the consciousness of many Americans, with Bin Laden as the phantom tormentor behind their dreams. Perhaps now, with his death, they can wake up from the decade long nightmare. As much as 9/11 was a symbolic humiliation for America, the killing of Bin Laden is a symbolic defeat against terrorism. His eventual death shows that terrorists, no matter how clever they are, can and will be eventually tracked down and if necessary killed. Justice may be a decade late, but it was eventually delivered by US SEALS calling on his fortified home in Pakistan.
Of course, Bin Laden’s death is only symbolic. It doesn’t mark the defeat of Al-Qaeda and nor does it mark the end of Bush’s “War against Terrorism”. Terrorism can not be defeated, for terrorism is an abstract concept, and abstract concepts, like all ideas, are bullet-proof. We will have to live with the threat of terrorism as we live with the threat of crime and war, and hope that the security agencies of states and international organisations can contain such threats. While the threat of terrorism is permanent, we can at least be consoled by the thought that even the most elusive and dangerous of terrorists can be brought to justice.
What other lessons can be learnt from the death of Bin Laden? For one, it highlights the continued importance of special forces in containing terrorism and fighting against today’s security threats. Special forces have been successfully used to end hostage situations, take for instance the Iranian embassy siege. They have also been used to assist regular forces, as they are in Afghanistan by systematically assassinating Taliban commanders, and also in protecting our future King and Queen. Mark my words, there would have been many plain-clothes SAS soldiers hidden within the jubilant crowds that lined Westminster’s streets. Politically, the fact that Bin Laden was found in a fortified compound a few miles away from a major Pakistani military college in a relatively peaceful and prosperous area of Pakistan speaks volumes of the problems that Pakistan as a country faces when it comes to terrorism. On a lighter note however, the reporting of Bin Laden’s death also reveals how much the internet has changed peoples lives over the last decade. I found out that Bin Laden was dead as soon as I woke up and turned my laptop on, and Facebook and Twitter quickly became inundated with comments and jokes about Bin Laden’s death (my favourite one being “Bin Laden: World Hide-and-Seek Champion 2001-2011) and also, funnily enough, a certain Pakistani has become famous for unwittingly providing live coverage of the raid on Bin Laden’s hideout via Twitter. None of this would have happened if Bin Laden was caught ten years ago.
Finally, and you can mark my words again, there will be many, many conspiracy theories surrounding Bin Laden’s death floating around on the internet. Was it really the Americans who killed him? Was it a double? Why did they bury him at sea so quickly? Who knows. But this new conspiracy might just be as big, loud and annoying as the “9/11 was faked” brigade. There will be Yeti-like sightings of Bin Laden all over YouTube, and idiots will take this as evidence to prove their deluded points that Bin Laden’s death was, say, faked by the CIA and it was all a master conspiracy by Obama so he can win a second term as president and humiliate Pakistan. Really though, they are of course wrong. It is obvious that Bin Laden is alive and well in Area 51, in the company of little green aliens, whom are all members of the Illuminati.
…You have been warned.