For the past seven years at my old blog, I regularly wondered why Osama bin Laden wasn’t already dead and in hell. I’d always believed bin Laden’s liquidation should’ve been a top priority for the United States, if for no other reason than justified vengeance.
He deserved to die for the 9/11 attacks and for all the other murderous terrorism he planned and inspired over the years. After all, bin Laden was the founder and figurehead of al-Qaida, America’s worst enemy over the past 15 years. Every day that he evaded justice for his crimes was an insult to his victims throughout the world.
I’ll never get over the fact that mere months after 9/11— in the spring of 2002 – the United States pulled special forces out of Afghanistan so they could be used in a costly midadventure in Iraq. All of a sudden, our president said he “wasn’t that concerned” about the terrorist mastermind.
I couldn’t believe it. In terms of killing al-Qaida leadership, I found myself taking a much harder line than many conservatives. A lot of them discounted bin Laden, assuming he was already dead (despite the occasional release of audio tapes where he discussed current events). Others worried that “if we kill him we make him a martyr.” And some just wrote him off, figuring that he was holed up in a cave somewhere, living like an animal, and that was good enough punishment. It wasn’t worth the blood and treasure for our military to scour the badlands just to find and kill one person.
Well, I always disagreed with those opinions, and thought we needed to get bin Laden, and that he needed to pay. I generally believed all the reports that assumed he was in Waziristan: dwelling in a cave, constantly fearing an unseen drone would bomb his ugly mug if he ever poked it out into the fresh air. In 2006, I started seeing reports that bin Laden was actually in Pakistan, and that Pakistan was reluctant to turn him over. President Bush also seemed reluctant to send special operations forces into Pakistan to hunt him down. Possibly he felt constrained by diplomacy to say otherwise in public.
Sunday, we learned that bin Laden hadn’t been living in a Waziristan cave for many months, if not for several years. Instead he’d been living comfortably in a heavily fortified million-dollar mansion in a Pakistan city. It took years for U.S. intelligence to track him to that location. A squad of Navy SEALS received orders to helicopter into the compound at night, drop in, and eliminate the rotten bastard. It was a daring and risky mission, and it was successful:
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan on Sunday, President Obama announced.
Last night, crowds gathered in the streets of New York and Washington to cheer the news. They celebrated into the early morning hours because many had assumed this day would never come.
Thankfully, it did. And while this victory might be largely symbolic in a military sense, coming nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s still a monumental win for the United States. Bin Laden may not have been directly involved in al-Qaida s operations in recent years, but he was more than just a poster boy. He unified al-Qaida as a spiritual leader, and justified killing with his warped, medieval Islamist ideology. Finally, his long jihad against the United States caught up with him, and he met a fate he deserved many years ago. Better late than never.
One last thing: There’s obviously no shortage of reasons to despise bin Laden, but New Orleanians might recall how al-Qaida leadership rejoiced after Katrina (and the Federal Flood), believing that the resultant death and destruction in our region was divinely inspired.
What a hideous and curdled mindset.
Good riddance, Osama bin Laden. I won’t miss having to wonder when you are going to hell.