Supposed invulnerability dies with bin Laden
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
5/03/11 at 5:52 AM
See front pages from newspapers
around the country
proclaiming bin Laden’s death.
Watch videos of cheering crowds, President
Obama praises the military and a look at bin
Laden’s rise to public enemy. Read a story
about the man next door to the bin Laden
military raid. He was tweeting the whole
Students react to death of bin Laden
State Muslims welcome news of bin Laden's death
Bin Laden's death a 'morale boost'
U.S. used multiple means, including DNA, to identify bin Laden
Site of hide-out fuels suspicion about Pakistan
McChrystal praises courage of bin Laden mission
Booker T. graduate celebrates being American
TSA security on alert after bin Laden's death
Feelings of closure, joy are elusive for some
Bin Laden's end began years ago in Eastern Europe
The death of Osama bin Laden is a largely symbolic victory in the U.S. war with terrorism - but a terribly important one, local terrorism experts say.
Kari Watkins, executive director at Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, said the ability of the American military to kill the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States teaches an important lesson in the inevitability of justice.
"We say this all the time: 'Good will overcome evil,'" she said. "Well, now it has."
David Cid, executive director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City, said bin Laden's death eliminates one of al-Qaida's most powerful intellectual weapons – his supposed invulnerability.
Recruiting young terrorists to take on the world's only "hyperpower" with nothing but an AK-47 is difficult, unless you can convince the recruits that they can win, he said.
Bin Laden's persistence in the face of U.S. efforts created a myth that America was powerless to confront him.
That myth dies with bin Laden, Cid said.
Operationally, the former FBI counterterrorism agent who has worked as a consultant in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, said the terrorist threat to the U.S. isn't changed much.
Planned al-Qaida attacks may be moved forward in retaliation and some lone individuals, who are inspired but not connected to bin Laden, may strike out violently, but such a spike in terrorism would likely be short-lived.
Al-Qaida was already doing everything it could to attack the United States before bin Laden's death, and it will continue to, he said.
Former University of Tulsa President Bob Donaldson, who teaches political science courses in American foreign policy and global threats to American security, agreed that the death of bin Laden doesn't substantially increase the danger of terrorism in the United States over where it was a few days ago.
"It's obviously going to inflame passions in the parts of the Muslim world that have decided they hate America and side with Osama bin Laden," he said, citing Yemen as a potential flash point.
U.S. relations with Pakistan - already complicated - are made enormously more difficult with the military strike that killed bin Laden, Donaldson said.
Bin Laden was living in a prominent, populated part of Pakistan, making it relatively obvious that the Pakistani intelligence community and probably its military knew or should have known where he was, Donaldson said.
The fact that the United States didn't share its plans to attack the bin Laden compound ahead of time suggests that the administration had decided Pakistan, despite being a U.S. ally, could not be trusted, he said.
The Pakistani government will have to object to the United States making a military attack within its borders, but there are certainly elements within the government who will be quietly pleased with the results, he said.
Domestically, Donaldson warned that the American people can't conclude that the death of bin Laden means the war on terrorism is finished.
"We can't ease up now," he said. "I think the majority of people are capable of recognizing the threat is still out there."
University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who was the longest-serving chairman of the U.S. Intelligence Committee and is co-chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, said the lesson of bin Laden's death is the enormous power of the United States, when it is united.
"Bringing an end to the murderous actions of Osama bin Laden shows what America can accomplish when our people are united behind a common goal," Boren said in a prepared statement.
Boren said the strike's deadly effectiveness shows the success of reforms to the American intelligence structure installed after the 9/11 attacks.
"These reforms have brought together the specialized skills of each separate part of the national security community into a shared unified effort," Boren said.
"Many deserve the shared credit for this success. The president acted decisively. The special operations forces performed with great heroism and precision. The intelligence community worked tirelessly and very effectively."
George Kaiser Family Foundation Executive Director Ken Levit, who was special counsel to then-CIA Director George Tenet in 1998-2000, added that the death of bin Laden strengthens the U.S coalition in the region.
"It heartens the overall alliance that's been after this for some period of time," Levit said. "
OU Professor Emeritus Stephen Sloan, who now is a researcher at the University of Central Florida, said Americans need to remember that the death of bin Laden is a significant moment in the war on terror, but not a decisive one.
"There are not decisive outcomes in this situation," he said. "It is a protracted conflict."
Sujeet Shenoi, an internationally recognized expert in cyber-terrorism, called the death of bin Laden "extremely exciting news."
"I didn't think it could be done so cleanly," he said.
Original Print Headline: Bin Laden takes 'invulnerability' to watery grave
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308