Osama bin Laden is dead.
Talk of the royal wedding couldn’t have left us fast enough when Manchester awoke Monday morning to news of a thoroughly different nature and magnitude.
In a special Piccadilly Pulse this week, MM’s reporters give their reactions to what could prove to be the year’s, if not the decade’s, single most shocking and significant event.
A 9/11 widow interviewed hours after bin Laden’s death summed up the event perfectly. She said it made her feel nothing whatsoever, it didn’t move her in any way.
Left emotionally empty by the loss of her beloved spouse, the killing of bin Laden is a hollow and meaningless victory.
The US government have long been seeking the scalp of bin Laden to flaunt as symbolic proof of their retribution.
The truth is, bin Laden had become a mere name and an icon, increasingly irrelevant to the Arab Muslim world.
So, while Obama was proud to proclaim he had made “the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al-Qaida,” some might say his priority should have been elsewhere.
I’m not a conspiracy-theory nutter, but I am cynical about anything said by the White House or US Intelligence.
In 2002 George Bush said: “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important”.
So why is his death suddenly important now?
Simply killing OBL will not stop terrorism – but at the same time, the public are continually scared into believing that more terror attacks are imminent.
This incident will now legitimise (in the eyes of many) the involvement of the US military in the region, most certainly in Pakistan as it has now become the prime focus in this ‘war on terror’.
Yes, there are some Pakistanis and Muslims who have committed atrocities. But we should not forget that they have also been some of the biggest victims of terrorism too.
While it is a propaganda coup for the Americans, I don’t think it will change much on the ground. Also, I’m surprised that no-one has really mentioned bin Laden’s past.
He was a monster, but he was a monster created by Ronald Reagan and the Americans during the 1980s, when they plied him with weapons and support in fighting the Russians.
I think there are several concerning issues around the death of bin Laden.
I am frankly alarmed by the scenes of celebration across America, suggesting that the life of non-Western people has now become extremely cheap, and by the stream of US politicians lining up to celebrate killing “the enemy” as an unquestionably good thing, to be carried out without any moral qualm.
There are also huge questions to be answered over the legality of the operation, which almost seems a throwback to the infamous Cold War CIA “black ops”.
In addition, it is worth considering whether bin Laden, whose vision of the Islamic world was of a non-democratic, medieval-style Caliphate, is even relevant to global politics today.
In one of the best pieces published in the last week, Robert Fisk suggests that the recent Arab uprisings represent a compelling public rejection of bin Laden and everything he stood for.
Helen Le Caplain
It was with mixed-feelings that I reacted to the death of bin Laden.
On the one hand I was glad that he had been caught, however I was unable to gloat at the killing of America’s Most Wanted. It brought to mind a quote attributed to the civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King:
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”
I hope his death will give the surviving 9/11 victims, and their friends and families, closure and a sense of justice. However I am not naïve enough to think that with bin Laden dead, the world is a safer place.
So Osama bin Laden has been caught; America has saved the world again; World peace will follow; and end to all disease and poverty; in fact, scratch that, an end to ALL SADNESS! No one will ever frown again.
Or so the American press would seem to want us to believe. Can I really be the only one whose blood runs a little cold over the sheer joy the world seems to be taking in a man’s death here?
Sure, I wanted him brought to justice; I wanted him to face the world over his involvement in the attacks of September 11th.
But did I want him dead? No. Revenge doesn’t help us get closure over the past.
Any joy taken from it is fleeting and will ultimately leave us emptier than we were to start with.
I want no part in the celebrations of a man’s murder and if this is the way America chooses to ‘save the world’ then I want no part in that either.
Are we really happy to allow one nation to decide who is so evil that they ‘deserve’ death before justice?
The death of Osama bin Laden is not as momentous as the US Government make out.
Despite him being an important role model for would-be Al Qaeda members, bin Laden played little part in their recent activity.
What they will lose is their infamous media face, but the threat will still be there, probably stronger than ever.
His new martyr status will help cement him as a significant Al Qaeda leader, and his image will help recruit new members for years to come.
For a figure who had taken on such a global iconic status, his mystique growing with every day he remained free, Osama bin Laden’s death was a surprisingly low-key event.
A single shot to the head and a hasty burial at sea was a world away from the intricately choreographed, maximum-impact media spectacle of 9/11, and you sensed that that was precisely the point.
This was a contract killing – “dead-or-alive” was never part of the equation. A live Osama would have been a PR nightmare, capture and show trials would have just handed him further publicity.
This way there was no body for jihadists to worship and fetishise, no grave for fellow-travellers to turn into a shrine.
The ‘cleanness’ of the kill will raise questions, and the conspiracy theorists were immediately out in full force questioning whether Osama was actually dead, or whether this was just an elaborate propaganda exercise.
The circulation of a faked composite photograph didn’t help, but there is growing pressure for the US authorities to release the death shot, branded “gruesome” by White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Leon Panetta, Director of the CIA, said: “The government obviously has been talking about how best to do this, but I don’t think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.”
Osama bin Laden. It’s like saying ‘BOO’, or at least it was.
But should we still fear the now deceased al-Qaeda leader? Many will argue that sending him out to quite literally sleep with the fishes was a mistake.
It leaves a gaping hole for conspiracy theorists who will argue he lives and nothing short of publishing dental records will prove otherwise.
Though it’s unlikely the US government will go so far as to release such definitive proof, we can only hope for a bit more detail to whet our sadistic palates.
After all, though utterly appalled, were we not all reaching for the mouse and clicking away until we found the infamous execution of Saddam Hussein?
But could we have predicted this navy-like burial? Well keen anagram solvers have come up with this one for Osama bin Laden: ‘lob da man in sea’.
Well there you go; the proof was written in his name.
This critical event has not only re-ignited fears of terrorist threats but also caused a battle of conscience in the West.
It is understandable that many people rejoiced upon hearing the news but many others have refused to celebrate what is ultimately a human death.
The images of burning portraits and vitriolic chants we’re so often used to seeing from the Middle-East are this time coming from across the Atlantic.
Rifts between pro and anti-war camps could grow ever larger as each clamour to claim that sacred moral high ground.
The looming question now is can our world leaders turn the corner on terrorism and uphold peaceful relations both domestically and internationally?
Leave your thoughts on the death of Osama bin Laden, the reaction across the globe, and how it may now affect the world in the comments box below.