In a sense, he was already dead.
And for a long while, no one believed any longer in the prospect he had outlined of a radical Islam that would take the place of communism and its world ambitions.
But he is, indeed, dead, and this time for good.
The worst serial killer in contemporary history, the inventor of the new terrorist strategy, the patron of an NGO of crime that, in the past decade, has killed thousands and thousands of civilians has left the world stage.
And obviously, it’s great news.
From there on, there remain questions.
Who killed Bin Laden? A commando of the American Joint Special Operations Command, of course. But also, necessarily, the international anti-terrorist coalition that had been hunting him down for ten years. And these Arabo-Muslim masses who were supposed to fall into the open arms of Al Qaeda but who, ultimately, refrained from doing so, thanks, at the end, to the democratic movements in the region which recently finished curing them of this potential temptation. Bin Laden is dead because the majority of Muslims had instantly disowned him. And because, ten years later, the Arab spring has condemned him.
What made it possible to kill Bin Laden? The presence of American special forces close to Pakistan. To state things clearly, in neighboring Afghan territory. Which means, to state things even more clearly, that the anti-terrorist coalition was right to remain in Afghanistan and that this much-decried, disreputable war — this war that was supposedly lost, purportedly just as bad as the absurd war in Iraq — was a war that had to be fought and that, finally, has reaped the rewards of reconciliation and peace. The event is the consequence of the presence of western soldiers in Kapissa and in Uzbeen. It is the victory of those who, since 2001, have refused to be influenced by defeatism. It is a blow to the spirit of Munich and its unfathomable frivolousness.
What will happen now, as a result? It will be a lesson, naturally, for all the terrorists in the world, as it already is for the Taliban. And, in medium or long range terms, it will lead to the inevitable weakening of the little army of crime whose leader was Bin Laden. But before that? In the short run? At the base of the Base? In these enfranchised cells whose ties with him were distant, and which, in Marrakech, on one of the most beautiful city squares in the world, have just committed the bloodbath we are all aware of? Isn’t there a risk, there and elsewhere, of an epidemic of little caliphs attempting to fill the empty shoes of the grand Caliph? And won’t they compete to imagine a revenge that measures up to his insanity? This death is a victory. But, unfortunately, it is not the total defeat of terrorism.
What will be or has been done with Bin Laden’s cadaver? The question may seem of secondary importance. But as I write these lines, a few hours after the announcement of his death, it is symbolically, hence politically, essential. Plunged into the Gulf of Oman, really? In this case, there is a risk of giving rise to the familiar conspiracy theories– — not really dead, hidden emir, resurrection, see the photo-shopped image already broadcast by the Pakistanis », etc.
Buried, then? But where? Who would get the poisoned gift? And the place of pilgrimage, in what cemetery of what country? A real dilemma. And then, again, the photo. To authenticate the death, did the Americans take the care to take an actual photo of the remains? They have to. Indispensable to nip any other rumors in the bud, ones whose authors would not fail to rush to snatch away Obama’s success — death from natural causes… smoke screen… phony operation… phony victory ». But it’s precisely what the U.S. did long ago, and for the same reasons, with Ché Guevara’s body. But in doing so, they transformed him into the icon we’re all familiar with. So, then? Dilemma again. Very difficult.
And then, finally, Pakistan. I fully understand that the operation was possible thanks to the cooperation of this U.S. ally, endowed with the atomic weapon, that is Pakistan. Yet at the same time… how can one not understand the other side of the truth? It was said that the fugitive was holed up in the grottos, wandering from hideout to hideout. He was supposedly living the existence of a hunted beast, in who knows what « tribal zone ».
But there he was, in the heart of the country. He lived 40 kilometers from Islamabad, the political capital, in a neighborhood I visited during my investigation of Daniel Pearl’s death, a residential area for retired military personnel. Can one not conclude, then, that the Pakistanis knew? That they had accepted to protect him and then decided to hand him over? And as a result, can one not ask the same question I asked, in the past and always in similar circumstances, when the Pakistani agencies gave up one of the jihadis of which they had a stock in store (sad to say, ensuing events proved me right every time): Why this change of mind? According to the terms of what bargain? And, in the hand of poker that is the diplomatic game seen from Islamabad, what card are they left hanging on to, having just discarded such a trump?
The disappearance of Bin Laden, however fortunate it may be, cannot but convince me further that this nuclear-possessing, jihadized Pakistan, subject to the persistent stranglehold of its dreadful secret services, remains, as yesterday, one of the most dangerous places on the planet.