Osama bin Laden and the price of over confidence.
Osama bin Laden was not killed by the Americans, he was killed by his own over confidence. Why, I wonder, was such a wanted man living in an affluent suburb of Islamabad? Not only that but he was living in a very obvious house: one with walls up to 18 feet tall, with barbed wire on top and only one entrance through double security gates. I understand, furthermore, that his property was eight times the size of typical ones nearby. Not only that, but most curiously, for such an evidently wealthy resident, no phone lines or internet connection entered the property. It seems to me that his elaborate defences did not protect him but, in fact, singled him out.
The legend of Osama bin Laden had long held that he lived in the mountains on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in some unknown cave. Were this, in fact, true, it is very likely that the Americans would never have found him and never have managed to kill him. Though I cannot know Osama bin Laden’s thinking on this, it does appear that a liking for a more comfortable life than the one of legend, led him to become a rather obvious figure to the watchful Americans. Had he truly been the ascetic that parts of his legend suggested, tonight President Obama and America would not be celebrating this victory.
I must say that I am surprised by the death of Osama bin Laden – not surprised at the death itself, for everyone knew that the Americans were seeking him out – no, I am just surprised that anyone who had done what Osama had reputedly done, would lead such a conspicuous life, on the outskirts of a major city. Perhaps the long years, since 9/11, in which the Americans had singularly failed to find him, had led him to believe that they never would – and so he chose to live in a manner which would, ultimately, draw attention to himself.
America might be celebrating today, but I can’t help but feel that this “victory” will only lead to more sorrow. The death of a man of such importance among his colleagues in cause, can only lead to a concerted effort at reprisal. I have read reports that, years ago, Al Qaeda threatened Europe with a nuclear attack, should Osama bin Laden ever be killed. Apparently, they were claiming to have hidden a nuclear bomb somewhere in Europe, for just such a day. Whether this is a bluff or not, we may soon know.
So, a more reflective response than celebration, to this development, does seem to be appropriate. A wiser response would be to step up preparedness for a reprisal – and, in particular, to ascertain whether there really is a nuclear weapon in Europe, hidden somewhere, awaiting a signal from Al Qaeda.
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