A proud day for the United States’ war on terror – a disgraceful day for Al Qaeda
In the ultimate irony of the Great War on Terror, Usama bin Laden, 54, founder of the organization that calls itself “The Base,” died yesterday afternoon in a raid on a luxurious compound in Pakistan. A US Navy SEAL (SEa-Air-Land commando) team raided the compound, confronted him, and shot him at point-blank range. The team brought his body back to their ship, where the crew buried him at sea.
The greatest irony: a man who repeatedly exhorted others to die for his cause (usually in the process of murdering other people), tried to hide behind a woman to preserve his own life. (Actually he threw the woman at the SEALs, who thrust her aside and by one account shot her in the leg when she would not stop fighting. They killed Bin Laden and three other men, including Bin Laden’s son.)
Almost as great as this irony was how UBL was living. He was not hiding in a “spider hole,” as Saddam Hussein had been when US forces found him. Nor was he hiding in a cave, as he had been when he made an earlier narrow escape. Instead, he was living in a multimillion-dollar mansion in a highly secure compound for retired military officers in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Obviously this raises questions about lack of cooperation between allies. But it also illustrates Bin Laden’s hypocrisy. A demagogue who constantly accuses his enemies of oppression of the poor, and complains also that his enemies are so rich, should not wallow in luxury himself. Real leaders, like George Washington at his army’s winter camp at Valley Forge, willingly accept the same privations that their troops suffer, and thus serve to inspire them further. How much inspiration the remaining adherents to his movement can draw from the manner and circumstances of his death is impossible to imagine, much less determine.
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Many observers will no doubt question whether Bin Laden is well and truly dead, because the Navy buried him at sea. But the sea is the best place to bury such a man, because the sea leaves no place for a pilgrimage.
To anticipate one possible canard, the American commandos did not kill Bin Laden in cold blood. They asked him to surrender, and he refused. They then shot him between the eyes, thus giving him a quick and painless death, a greater favor than he or his minions granted to the many innocent victims of their fury.
“The Base” remains; Leon Panetta, Director of Central Intelligence and soon to become Secretary of Defense, admits that. But they have suffered a tremendous disgrace, not merely because Usama bin Laden is dead, but because he died after living in luxury and trying to hide behind a woman.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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