Sacrificing Our TODAY for the World's TOMORROW
FATA is "Federally Administered Tribal Area" of Pakistan; consisting of 7 Agencies and 6 F.Rs; with a 27000 Sq Km area and 4.5 m population.
MYTH: FATA is the HUB of militancy, terrorism and unrest in Afghanistan.
REALITY: FATA is the worst "VICTIM of Militancy”. Thousands of Civilians dead & injured; Hundreds of Schools destroyed; Thousands of homes raised to ground; 40% population displaced from homes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Al-Qaida Loses Its Leader, Osama Bin Laden (Spiegel International, 2 May 2011)

Courtesy: "Spiegel International, Germany", 2 May 2011

Al-Qaida Loses Its Leader: Osama Bin Laden, Prince of Terror

The US government hunted Osama bin Laden for 10 years after he claimed responsibility for the deaths of thousands in the 9/11 attacks. Now American forces have killed the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan. But his death will not mean the end to global jihad.

By Yassin Musharbash
All Osama bin Laden needed for breakfast was olive oil, dried thyme, a few olives and a bit of bread. Even years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as he still lived in relative security in Afghanistan, the founder and head of the al-Qaida terrorist network was fabled for his modesty -- and even more for his sense of humility.

Journalist Ahmed Zaidan, who interviewed bin Laden several times, most recently in 2000, captured those traits in an anecdote about a prayer gathering of almost the entire al-Qaida leadership. When his supporters wanted to clear a spot in the first row of prayers for the Saudi Arabian, bin Laden resisted them, saying he had come too late, the first row was already full and, besides, he didn't deserve any kind of special treatment. Zaidan wrote that many similar stories about the tall, skinny man made the rounds among the Arab mujahedeen in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hydra's Head Has Been Cut Off
This kind of outward display of modesty helped Osama bin Laden to gain as many followers as he did. Few people who had anything to do with bin Laden personally would dispute his patience and friendliness.

But bin Laden, the son of billionaires in Jeddah, who went by the nom de guerre "Abu Abdullah," will go down in history as being one of the most dangerous terrorists of all time. Be it the dual attacks on the US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998 that killed more than 200 people, the Sept. 11, 2001 terror strikes that killed almost 3,000 people, or the bombings in Bali, Madrid and London, not to mention terror in Baghdad, Kandahar and many other places, none of these actions would have been possible without his network, his money, his perseverance and his ideas. Now bin Laden is dead. US special forces have killed him in Pakistan. The hydra that is al-Qaida has lost its most important head.
Already an Islamist in His Youth
The biography of Osama, who was likely born in 1957, begins as one of an eccentric. The scion of an extremely wealthy business family that maintains good ties with the Saudi royal family, Osama would have stood out less if he had done the same as his countless siblings and half-siblings and simply enjoyed life as a member of the globalized, jet-set elite. But Osama, an earnest youth, found religion at a very young age. It seemed a little strange to his relatives, but it was also a reason to be proud, given how deeply religion permeates Saudi society.
As far back as his youth, Osama already showed a tendency towards radicalism. He was attracted to the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been conveyed to him by the brother of its leading thinker, Sayyid Qutb. Not even an adult yet, Osama bin Laden was already refusing to shake hands with women and had no interest whatsoever in music or photos. When he turned on the television set, he only watched the news -- and when the news show's theme music played, he made the younger brother of a friend turn off the volume.
Outside his family, Osama was thoroughly part of a mass movement: As bin Laden came of age, a wave of re-Islamization began gripping the Islamic world. And when Afghanistan fell to the Soviets in 1979, he swiftly traveled to neighboring Pakistan, where the resistance movement began to take root. He wanted to help the mujahedeen, but not as a fighter -- at least not in the beginning. Instead, he worked to promote the cause, raise money and recruit people. Together with the formidable jihad theorist Abdullah Azzam, he established Maktab al-Khadamat (the Mujahedeen Services Office) in 1984. Two years later, he moved his family there. In 1974, he had married a Syrian woman, a distant relative. From then on, he lived in Jaji in Afghanistan.
Over time, Osama and his mentor began to disagree on many issues. Azzam, a Palestinian, really only wanted to support the battle against the Soviets -- he didn't want to fight himself. And if they did fight, Arab volunteers should be distributed among Afghan combat units, he had argued. Bin Laden had another view: He established his own camps for Arab units, who closed in on the front. The camp from which he sent his fighters into battle was called al-Masada, or the Lion's Den. But his fighters weren't successful very often.
Building a Reputation on the Afghan Battlefield
Nevertheless, Osama still manage to build a reputation -- partly because he himself fought on occasion. In their news bulletins, the mujahedeen reported about him. By the time the Soviets announced their withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s, Osama had become one of the country's most important jihad leaders.
It was at this time that he founded al-Qaida, a network whose goal remained to train fighters because, in bin Laden's opinion, the jihad had to continue, even if the Soviets had pulled out. If not in Afghanistan, then somewhere else. The idea met with massive resistance within the scene: Many fighters had only come to battle the Soviets, and they viewed other attacks as illegitimate. Azzam warned him against carrying the battle over to the other parts of the Islamic world -- he didn't want to see Muslims killing other Muslims.
Azzam was murdered in 1989 and speculation continues today that the al-Qaida founder may have caused his death. In any case, his depth marked the departure of an intellectual counterweight to bin Laden from the scene. And bin Laden, who was supported by extremely radical Egyptian mujahedeen, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, carried on with his plans. It was his conviction that the "enemy," America, must be attacked. After all, he argued, the US supported every corrupt, un-Islamic regime in the region. This ideological device enabled jihadists from different countries to fight together under one flag for the first time.

At first, however, bin Laden returned to the country of his birth. He hadn't yet cut ties with his family or the Saudi royals. Indeed, he was praised as a war hero and was popular as a speaker. Soon, though, the insult came that finally and irrevocably transformed bin Laden into a global jihadist. In 1990, the royal family rejected his 60-page plan calling for a Saudi Arabia-led invasion of Iraq with his jihadists at the helm. Instead, the king let American troops into the country to deter Saddam Hussein.
In 1992, bin Laden moved to Sudan. There, he founded firms in order to raise money. At the same time, his jihad operations were organized in side buildings in those companies. Be it the dispute in Southern Yemen, the war in Somalia or the war brewing in Bosnia, al-Qaida was involved in all of these crises. The group's internationalization was already well underway.
The Road to 9/11
Responding to pressure from the Saudis, Egyptians and Americans, the Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi ejected bin Laden from the country in 1996. The Saudi Arabian traveled back to Afghanistan where the Taliban were consolidating their power. Their leader Mullah Omar assured bin Laden that he was "welcome" and that they would never hand him over to the Americans. Mullah Omar would keep his promise, even though it would mean the end of his regime five years later.
Now that he was back in Afghanistan, bin Laden tried to generate more publicity. He planned new attacks, which were intended to be large and spectacular.
A turning point occurred in 1998: In February of that year, bin Laden announced, together with al-Zawahiri and other jihadi leaders, that it was the duty of every Muslim to "kill Americans wherever they are found," irrespective of whether they were civilians or soldiers. The statement was made in the name of the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, but it was al-Qaida that was behind it.
Al-Qaida's First Major Attack
Less than six months later, bin Laden proved that he was serious: More than 200 people died when two terrorists targeted the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in almost simultaneous attacks. Two years later, al-Qaida attacked the USS Cole off the Yemeni coast. Bin Laden's network was now a serious threat to American security.
The Taliban continued to protect the al-Qaida leader. And bin Laden was brimming with self-confidence. He told his followers several times that the US was much easier to fight than the Soviets. Their materialism meant that they were not willing to sacrifice themselves, he said. By this point, al-Qaida was recruiting members all over the world, and volunteers were heading to Afghanistan again. Among them were Mohamed Atta and other members of the cell which would carry out the worst terrorist attack in history one year later.
Back then, the United States failed in its attempts to take bin Laden out. At the headquarters of the National Security Agency near Washington, intelligence operatives occasionally let high-ranking guests eavesdrop on phone calls between Osama bin Laden and his mother. But they missed the fact that bin Laden was organizing 9/11 at this time.
Pieces of the Puzzle
There were plenty of signs that something was brewing, but no one put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly. The attacks took place on Sept. 11, 2001. Bin Laden watched them live on TV. In one of his first speeches after 9/11, he said that he had "warned" the US several times. Speaking to al-Jazeera, he justified the choice of targets, saying that they had not intended "to kill children," which was why they had attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
In the wake of the attacks, the war in Afghanistan began. If bin Laden's words can be trusted, the al-Qaida leader already had such a war as his aim at the time of the attack on the USS Cole. "We will then proclaim jihad against them here and fight them like we once fought the Soviets," he said.
In November 2001, however, things were getting tight for bin Laden. He had been holed up in the caves of Tora Bora for days, under bombardment by US forces. He wrote his will, and for the first time his optimism gave way to a strangely depressive mood. "The main reason for the suffering of our nation is the fear of dying in the name of Allah ... Today this nation has let us down." To his children, he wrote the following words: "Forgive me that I have given you so little time."
Messages from the Underground
But Osama bin Laden survived and managed to escape. Since then, he had lived, in hiding and well guarded, somewhere in Afghanistan, Pakistan or in the border region between the two countries. He made public statements on around two dozen occasions, but nobody knew his exact location.
From his hiding place, he provided self-proclaimed al-Qaida members and sympathizers around the world with strategic objectives. When he mentioned certain countries, attacks often followed there. But terror experts deemed it unlikely that bin Laden was himself involved in the planning.
Osama bin Laden was a phenomenon. He was fundamentally different from the autocratic leaders of the Arab world, but in his modesty he was vain himself. He presented himself as a pious and wise man, yet he had virtually no religious education. In his speeches he always told the West that he wanted peace, and yet he incited terror.
'The War Will Continue'
In order to understand bin Laden, says Steve Coll, the American author of the best-selling book "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden," one needs to take his family background into account. Ultimately he was just like a businessman in his enthusiasm for technology and the way he dealt with money and resources.
Bin Laden's death represents a very serious blow to al-Qaida. The only thing more demoralizing would probably have been his arrest, which bin Laden's former bodyguard Abu Jandal said would amount to "a psychological defeat," in an interview with bin Laden biographer Peter Bergen.
But as a martyr, bin Laden will continue to inspire his sympathizers. That is something that was seen in the reaction of jihadists to the deaths of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and bin Laden's mentor Abdullah Azzam. Global Islamic terrorism may have suffered a defeat, but bin Laden's death does not mean that it is finished.
Bin Laden himself once said: "I am just a poor slave of God. If I live or die, the war will continue."


Note: The viewpoint expressed in this article is solely that of the writer / news outlet. "FATA Awareness Initiative" Team may not agree with the opinion presented.

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