I write today with great joy and pride in America. As the whole world now knows, the mastermind behind September 11. 2001 has been killed by American Navy SEALs operating in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was brought to justice on Sunday night by members of the US military and the CIA while hiding out in a mansion thirty miles outside of Islamabad. The death of the founder of al Qaeda and the "genius" behind the attacks of September 11th had been living in the lap of luxury for several years less than a mile away from Pakistan's "West Point" military training academy. It was quite a shock to learn that he had been living in Pakistan for years and that he was in a million dollar mansion, not in a cave in Afghanistan. All the credit for this successful operation goes to the CIA and the US military for uncovering the trail and following it to the house in Abbottabad. Many of these intelligence officials have spent every day of the last nine years hunting for bin Laden and finally, their hunt led to the kill.
As more details of this covert operation surface we learn that the planning of this op began in 2005 with the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and evolved from there over the next five years. The first tip was obtained while water boarding KSM at the instruction of President Bush and at the hands of the CIA. I find it ironic that Obama denounced the practice of water boarding while campaigning in 2008, but that he is now getting the credit for the killing of OBL; which would not have been possible without the intense interrogation that he so vehemently opposed.
While following the constant coverage of the death of bin Laden these past two days, many families of the 9-11 victims have been interviewed and their reactions are pretty much the same. Most of them say that they are thrilled that justice has finally been meted out, but are saddened that it cannot bring back their lost loved ones. While he was responsible for the attacks here in our homeland on 9-11, he was also responsible for a reign of terror across the planet. He was behind the subway bombings in London and Madrid, the bombings in Bali, the attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 and countless others on civilians and military worldwide. He unleashed a reign of terror the likes of which had never been seen before. His death brings much needed closure to many people across the world but it can never fully assuage the pain that he caused.
After confirming the identity of Osama bin Laden, his body was prepared for burial at sea according to the Muslim religious tradition and was buried at sea in an undisclosed location by the sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea. While I understand the reasons behind this type of burial, I wish that he had been disposed of a different way that did not honor his religious rites. I know that the reasons behind this type of burial were to prevent inciting more violence from Muslims here and abroad in response to his death and to prevent a shrine from being created had he been buried on land. However, this beast murdered Muslims, Christians and Jews alike with no concern for their innocence or religion and did not deserve a religious burial of any sort. Also, the quick disposal of his body lends more credence to conspiracy theorists and disbelief that it was actually him that was killed. To counter this effect, the Obama administration needs to release the photos of his dead body and the video of his burial at sea. Hopefully, they will do so sooner rather than later.
The other question that this operation presents is the cooperation of Pakistan in the concealment of bin Laden. It is simply very hard to believe that no one in the upper echelons of the Pakistani government and intelligence agencies did not know that he was there in Abbottabad. He was living in a million dollar compound with an eighteen foot high fence with barbed wire in a town of retired military. The residents of his compound burned their trash instead of setting it out on the curb for pickup, there were no phone lines or television going into the house, everyone in the house was required to work except for one older man who was showed deference and not required to do anything. These are just a few of the details that should have raised red flags in Pakistan. Had this compound existed within the United States, many of the neighbors would have questioned it and alerted local authorities about its existence. Surely, someone in the intelligence community of Pakistan knew about this compound and the presence of Osama bin Laden within the house. Our government needs to ask the tough questions of Pakistan - did they know he was there? Did they protect him, or even worse, aid him in any way? Our foreign aid to Pakistan needs to be suspended until these and other questions are answered appropriately. Hopefully, members of Congress will discuss this soon and take action to investigate the connections.
The death of Osama bin Laden is a moral victory for America and our military and intelligence communities and a feather in the cap of President Obama and is a great ending to one chapter of the War on Terror. However, we must remain even more vigilant and alert to terrorism as al Qaeda will want to avenge his death. I pray that our country remains safe and secure and that we continue to wage a heavy war on terror worldwide. I know that OBL is burning in the fires of Hell as he should be and I commend President Obama for green lighting this successful operation. I also commend President Bush for putting in place the policies that led to the intelligence gathering and ultimate demise of bin Laden. His death has been desired by so many people for so long and it is wonderful that it came at the hands of the US military and specifically, the Navy SEALs. Thank you to all who serve this great country in the military, intelligence community and as first responders. It truly is a great day to be so proud to be an American and I am!!!!