Kevin Johnson and Rick Hampson, USA TODAY & Tomer Velmer / Israel News – 2011-05-03 20:09:26
Clinton: Bin Laden’s Death Doesn’t End War on Terror
Kevin Johnson and Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON (May 3, 2011) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that the US message to al-Qaeda remains the same today, but it “might have even greater resonance” in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death.
“You cannot defeat us,” Clinton said at the State Department, urging al-Qaeda members to renounce the terror organization and back US efforts to stop violence against innocents. “The fight continues and we will never waver.”
Clinton said bin Laden’s death was a milestone in the war on terrorism, but stressed that the “battle to stop al-Qaeda and its syndicate of terror” is not over. Clinton said cooperation with Pakistan helped lead the US to the compound where bin Laden was killed and the US would continue to boost its counterterrorism cooperation with other nations, including Pakistan.
John Brennan, White House adviser on homeland security, said at a press briefing Monday that it was inconceivable that bin Laden didn’t have some kind of support inside Pakistan.
“People are raising questions and understandably so,” he said. “A number of people have questions on whether there was some kind of support by the Pakistani government.”
The death of bin Laden, while celebrated in the US and other countries that have been al-Qaeda’s targets, is likely to set off a spasm of attacks aimed at re-establishing the terror organization’s international credentials and avenging the killing of its longtime leader, security analysts said.
“Decapitation does not mean the end of the movement,” said Georgetown University professor Bruce Hoffman, who has studied terrorism and insurgencies for more than three decades.
Hoffman said al-Qaeda’s surviving franchises are likely to be joined by other aspiring groups jockeying to fill a leadership void left in the wake of bin Laden’s death.
“Some may see this as an opportunity to steal the limelight,” Hoffman said. “While the risk may go up, the good news is that in the rush to do something, some of these (attacks) may go off half-cocked” and allow US officials to learn more about the surviving terror networks.
The head of the House Homeland Security Committee said Monday that the United States must temper victory with vigilance in the wake of bin Laden’s assassination.
Rep. Pete King told NBC’s Today show the al-Qaeda terrorist organization could “try to avenge this death” and said “we’ll have to be on full alert.”
The New York Republican predicted “a fight for power” within al-Qaeda. King also said there will be “round-the-clock” government surveillance to determine if al-Qaeda is planning or organizing a retaliatory attack. He said federal agencies will be trying to find out if an attack is possible or imminent, “and how we can prevent it, how we can stop it.”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the government has no plans to raise the terror alert level in the US as a result of bin Laden’s death.
Napolitano said elevated terror alerts will only be issued when the government has specific or credible intelligence it can share with the American public.
Some communities around the country, including the New York City subway system, have increased security out of concerns of potential retaliation attacks. Napolitano said the country remains at a heightened state of vigilance, and the US is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, because bin Laden is dead.
Retaliatory attacks against the US and Western targets could come from members of al-Qaeda’s core branch in the tribal areas of Pakistan, al-Qaeda franchises in other countries, and radicalized individuals in the US with al-Qaeda sympathies, according to a Homeland Security Department intelligence alert issued Sunday and obtained by the Associated Press.
Bin Laden was more of a symbol than anything else, said Qaribut Ustad Saeed, a longtime member of the Hezb-e-Islami rebel group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the US has labeled a terrorist.
Saeed is currently a member of the Afghan High Peace Council set up to try to negotiate a peace settlement with the Taliban. Bin Laden’s loss will be an inspirational one, rather than an operational one, he said.
“Osama bin Laden became a symbol and inspiration for the young Muslim extremists,” he said. But the group has expanded into a worldwide movement that is now bigger than bin Laden, he said.
Family members of those killed in the World Trade Center attack were cautious Monday about the future.
“This is a good thing and it needed to happen. But it doesn’t change everything,” said Lynn Faulkner of Mason, Ohio, who lost his wife Wendy at the World Trade Center, where she was on business. “It’s one battle in a war. He was a figurehead.”
“It’s not an end to anything,” said Neda Bolourchi of Los Angeles, a Muslim whose mother Touri was a passenger on United Flight 175, which hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center. “His ideology is still rampant in the Arab world. But this is a dent. You wonder — ‘Is it really gonna make a difference?’ Symbolically it does. â€¦ Justice was done.”
“I’ve been waiting for this for 10 years,” said Sheila Flocco of Wilmington, Del., whose only child — 21-year-old Matthew — was among those killed at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into it. “I know it’s probably putting our country in danger again. Retaliation for his death could come and I’d hate to see that happen. But in the same breath, I’m glad they finally got him.”
The State Department issued a worldwide advisory to US citizens traveling and living abroad about the potential for anti-American violence in the wake of bin Laden’s death.
“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, US citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations,” the advisory said.
US government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert, the State Department said, and some may temporarily close or suspend public services when necessary.
Mark Lytle, Bard College historian and co-author of the American history textbook, Nation of Nations, called the killing of bin Laden “a shot in the arm for America’s image,” especially compared to the debacle that resulted when President Jimmy Carter mounted a similar effort to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980.
“Americans can take a certain comfort that we were able to do this, especially in a period that’s been pretty grim for the average citizen,” he said Monday.
But for all the euphoria, Lytle said bin Laden’s demise probably seems more important now than it will in retrospect.
“This is sweet revenge, but it won’t change much,” he said. “Sept. 11 will be remembered because so much changed.”
Contributing: Johnson and David Jackson reported from Washington, D.C.; Hampson reported from New York; Carolyn Pesce in McLean, Va.; Tim Konski and Beth Miller, The (Wilmington, Del.) News-Journal; the Associated Press.
Expert: Bin Laden’s Death to Prompt Terror Waves
Researchers: Assassination not a grave blow to al-Qaeda
Tomer Velmer / Israel News
TEL AVIV (May 3, 2011) — Global terror sustains harsh blow, but not a grave one: Israeli experts told Ynet Monday that while Osama bin Laden’s assassination carries symbolic significance, it will not end global terrorism.
Following bin Laden’s death, the world should expect terror waves to avenge the al-Qaeda leader’s killing, one expert warned.
In the wake of the bin Laden era, terror groups worldwide will have growing motivation to carry out revenge attacks, said Dr. Boaz Ganor, who heads the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.
In the immediate future, terrorists will attempt to target US embassies worldwide as well as American citizens and symbols, he said. Next, terror groups will aim to initiate attacks to be carried out by radical Islamists in the Western world, such as the London bombing in 2005, he added.
In the intermediate term, Ganor said, al-Qaeda affiliates may carry out major attacks against US and Western targets, especially in the Middle East and Africa. Yemen may be prone be particularly prone for such attacks, he said.
In the long term, al-Qaeda may attempt to carry out a mega-attack similar in scope to the September 11 offensive, Ganor said.
“Such attack, should it take place, will likely be carried out in the longer term given the need to get organized and prepare such complex operation,” he said. “In recent years, al-Qaeda tried to carry out attacks of such scope by failed, mostly as result of better US intelligence capabilities as well as limited abilities due to Western blows.”
Professor Eyal Zisser, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Humanities Faculty and specializes in Middle East affairs, told Ynet that “bin Laden was the man who established the terror organization, the ‘brains’ behind it and the man who financed its activity, and in this respect this is a serious blow to the organization.”
“However, this does not mark the elimination of global terror,” he said.
‘Bin Laden an Immortal Symbol’
Al-Qaeda does not feature a clear hierarchy, but rather, is built as a network spread worldwide with its various parts operating independently, Zisser said. The notion of using Jihad against the enemy has become widespread and can be seen in local events that have no direct connection to the organization or its leader, he said.
Ben Gurion University Professor Yoram Meital reinforced the analysis, noting that al-Qaeda “is a phenomenon that for a while now includes expressions of changing terror, rather than one organization where decisions are taken in an orderly manner.”
“Hence, on the practical level it will be wrong to assume that bin Laden’s assassination will constitute a grave blow to the phenomenon known as al-Qaeda,” he said. “There is no doubt that symbols have power, and hence bin Laden’s elimination has a great impact, yet on the other hand we must realize that he has turned into an immortal symbol for his supporters.”
“The operation does not constitute the elimination of global terror, because to my regret there are enough fanatics out there with deep hatred for the West, who will continue bin Laden’s path,” said Professor Efraim Inbar, who heads Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center. “We can assume that he will turn into a martyr now and continue to attract disturbed people in the Muslim world who are motivated by frustration and believe in the notion of murdering others.”
Boaz Fyler contributed to the report