Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Robert Fisk: Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, should forces now go home?

Pakistani police officer secure a street close to the house, seen on background, where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari denied suggestions his country's security forces may have sheltered Osama bin Laden before he was killed by American forces, and said their cooperation with the United States helped pinpoint the world's most wanted man.  (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Pakistani police officer secure a street close to the house, seen on background, where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari denied suggestions his country's security forces may have sheltered Osama bin Laden before he was killed by American forces, and said their cooperation with the United States helped pinpoint the world's most wanted man. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Local people and media gather outside the perimeter wall and sealed gate into the compound and a house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed late Monday, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Local residents showed off small parts of what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter that Washington said malfunctioned and was disabled by the American commando strike team as they retreated, while Pakistan's leader on Tuesday denied suggestions that his country's security forces had sheltered Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A Pakistani youngster shows metal pieces collected from wheat field outside a house, seen background, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Local residents showed off small parts of what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter that Washington said malfunctioned and was disabled by the American commando strike team as they retreated, while Pakistan's leader on Tuesday denied suggestions that his country's security forces had sheltered Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A view of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, after a U.S. military raid late Monday which ended with the death of the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and others inside the compound. U.S. Navy SEALs swept through the massive compound Monday in pursuit of their target, bin Laden, and it is revealed Tuesday by White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan that the U.S. already was scouring through items seized in the raid, said to include hard drives, DVD's, a pile of documents and other items. (AP Photo/Aqeel Ahmed)
ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 03: A detail from the grave marker of a solider killed during Operation Enduring Freedom in Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60, where troops killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried, May 3, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. About 1,500 American troops have died in the war in Afghanistan, sparked by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States which were masterminded by the Saudi-born terrorist Osama Bin Laden. News of Bin Laden's death Sunday during a U.S. Special Forces raid of his compound in Pakistan lead to mixed reactions around the world. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 03: Ricky Parada of Stafford, Virginia, visits the grave of his brother, U.S. Marine Corporal Nicholas Parada Rodriguez, at Arlington National Cemetery May 3, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. After hearing the news about the death of Osama Bin Laden, Ricky Parada thought of his brother said to himself, "Man, I've got to go and talk to him." Parada Rodriguez was killed May 16, 2010 during the Marja offensive in Afghanistan. It was his third combat tour and second tour of Afghanistan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY - MAY 03: The first page of the Italian newspaper La Stampa is displayed on May 3, 2011 in Milan, Italy. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has upped the security in Italy as fears about retalliation attacks spread following the killing of Osama Bin Laden, who was was killed two days ago in an operation by U.S. Navy Seals in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Local people and news media gather round the compound and house, seen on right, of Osama bin Laden as authorities eased the security and allowed people to approach the perimeter of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, after a U.S. military raid late Monday which ended with the death of the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and others inside the compound. U.S. Navy SEALs swept through the massive compound Monday in pursuit of their target, bin Laden, and it is revealed Tuesday by White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan that the U.S. already was scouring through items seized in the raid, said to include hard drives, DVD's, a pile of documents and other items. (AP Photo/Aqeel Ahmed)
Media and local residents gather outside the house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Local residents showed off small parts of what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter that Washington said malfunctioned and was disabled by the American commando strike team as they retreated, while Pakistan's leader on Tuesday denied suggestions that his country's security forces had sheltered Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Supporters of Pakistan's religious party Jamatut Dawa offer funeral prayers for Osama bin Laden in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Barack Obama said. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
Police officers secure the perimeter, with a sealed gate into the compound and a house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed late Monday, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Local residents showed off small parts of what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter that Washington said malfunctioned and was disabled by the American commando strike team as they retreated, while Pakistan's leader on Tuesday denied suggestions that his country's security forces had sheltered Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Local people and news media gather round the compound and house, seen on right, of Osama bin Laden as authorities eased the security and allowed people to approach the perimeter of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, after a U.S. military raid late Monday which ended with the death of the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and others inside the compound. U.S. Navy SEALs swept through the massive compound Monday in pursuit of their target, bin Laden, and it is revealed Tuesday by White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan that the U.S. already was scouring through items seized in the raid, said to include hard drives, DVD's, a pile of documents and other items. (AP Photo/Aqeel Ahmed)
This image released by the White House shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's reaction as she watches the attack on Osama bin Laden''s hideout
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden
Penn State senior Jake Librizzi holds an American flag as he and others fill Beaver Canyon Avenue in downtown State College, Pa., around midnight on Sunday, May 1, 2011
BOSTON, MA - MAY 2: Flowers and an American flag lay on the Garden of Remembrance May 2, 2011 in the Boston Public Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Families of local victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks gathered at the 9/11 memorial to reflect upon the death of Osama Bin Laden. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: People look out at Ground Zero a day after the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: A U.S. soldier walks by newspaper clippings on a wall at Ground Zero heralding the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - MAY 2: Scott and Walter Neilly, brothers, from Bradford, Pa look over the crash site of Flight 93 following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan May 2, 2011 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 10 years after September 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011
Angry supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam burn representation of the United States during a rally to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden in Quetta, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011. al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was slain in his hideout in Pakistan early Monday in a firefight with U.S. forces, ending a manhunt that spanned a decade. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)(AP Photo/Arshad Butt)
WASHINGTON - MAY 02: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks as Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd (L) listens during a post-meeting joint press availability May 2, 2011 at the State Department in Washington, DC. Secretary Clinton said in a statement earlier that the death of Osama Bin Laden does not end the battle with al-Qaida. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 2: An armored Park Police vehicle sits parked at the base of the Washington Monument May 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The DC area and other places around the nation have stepped up security after it was announced that Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11th terror attacks, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Kevin Van Orden, whose brother is in the U.S. Army, celebrates outside the World Trade Center site after the death of accused 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was announced May 2, 2011 in New York City. Bin Laden was killed in an operation by U.S. Navy Seals in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Ground Zero is viewed a day after the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: A woman poses near the back of a newspaper vendor displaying a paper heralding the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Imagecs)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: A passer by looks at newspaper headlines reporting the death of Osama Bin Laden, in front of the Newseum, on May 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Workers at Ground Zero listen as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a news conference at Ground Zero following the announcement of the death of al Qaeda founder and leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Workers at Ground Zero listen as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a news conference at Ground Zero following the announcement of the death of al Qaeda founder and leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stands with dignitaries and family of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks at news conference at Ground Zero following the announcement of the death of al Qaeda founder and leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan (L) and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney
SHANKSVILLE, PA - MAY 2: Jeff Ray and his wife, Barbara, of Shanksville, Pa look over the crash site of Flight 93 following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan May 2, 2011 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 10 years after September 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - MAY 2: Jeff Ray of Shanksville, Pa holds a sign he made as he looks over the crash site of Flight 93 following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan May 2, 2011 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 10 years after September 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - MAY 2: Visitors Kathy Reid and Donna Warren look over the crash site of Flight 93 following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan May 2, 2011 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 10 years after September 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - MAY 2: Jeff Ray and his wife, Barbara, of Shanksville, Pa look over the crash site of Flight 93 following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan May 2, 2011 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 10 years after September 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. Last night U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MAY 02: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd (L) approach the podiums for a post-meeting joint press availability May 2, 2011 at the State Department in Washington, DC. Secretary Clinton said in a statement earlier that the death of Osama Bin Laden does not end the battle with al-Qaida. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 2: New York City Police officers and a K9 stand in a subway station May 2, 2011 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Security presence has been escalated as a precaution after U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Daniel Barry/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: A member of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Emergency Service Unit stands guard at Grand Central Station a day after the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 in New York City. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a late night address to the nation from the White House in Washington on May 1. The mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was killed in an American military operation at a compound in Pakistan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Massachusetts family members, from left, sisters Danielle and Carie Lemack who lost their mother Judy Larocque; Christy Coombs who lost her husband Jeffrey; and Irene Ross who lost her brother Richard Ross, all on ill-fated Flight 11 from Logan Airport on 9/11 grieve in Boston Monday, May 2, 2011 during a moment of silence at the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial dedicated to the 206 Massachusetts victims of September 11, 2001. The event was held in the wake of news of the death of Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama listens during one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Green Room of the White House, following his statement detailing the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. CIA Director Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are pictured at left. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama talks with members of the national security team at the conclusion of one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama edits his remarks in the Oval Office prior to making a televised statement detailing the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 1: In this handout image provided by The White House, Senior administration officials listen as President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the East Room of the White House on the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States had killed the most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Police officers keep watch at a makeshift memorial on the fence surrounding the World Trade Center site after the death of accused 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was announced May 2, 2011 in New York City. Bin Laden was killed in an operation by U.S. Navy Seals in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
This undated artist rendering handout provided by the CIA shows the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan where American forces in Pakistan killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/CIA)
Joe Pisciotta of Falls Church, Va., left, and Eric Tcotco, of Washington, who have never met before, have their photo taken together by an American flag in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 2, 2011, the day after Osama bin Laden was killed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
John Flowers, graduating WVU basketball forward, center, prepares to jump as hundreds of fellow students celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden in Morgantown W.V. early Monday, May 2, 2011. Osama bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a firefight with elite American forces in Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011 then quickly buried at sea. (AP Photo/Daily Athenaeum, Matt Sunday)
This frame grab from video obtained exclusively by ABC News, on Monday, May 2, 2011, shows a section of a room in the interior of the compound where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was tracked down and shot to death in Pakistan, Monday, May 2, 2011, by an elite team of U.S. forces, ending an unrelenting manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade. (AP Photo/ABC News)
This frame grab from video obtained exclusively by ABC News, on Monday, May 2, 2011, shows a section of a room in the interior of the compound where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was tracked down and shot to death in Pakistan, Monday, May 2, 2011, by an elite team of U.S. forces, ending an unrelenting manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade. (AP Photo/ABC News)
This frame grab from video obtained exclusively by ABC News, on Monday, May 2, 2011, shows a section of the compound where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was tracked down and shot to death in Pakistan, Monday, May 2, 2011, by an elite team of U.S. forces, ending an unrelenting manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade. (AP Photo/ABC News)
Crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, early Monday, May 2, 2011, after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
Osama bin Laden is seen in this undated photo taken from a television image. (Photo by Getty Images)
Osama bin Laden is seen aiming a weapon in this undated photo from Al-Jazeera TV. (Photo by Al-Jazeera/Getty Images)
Osama bin Laden
Afghan men point at a television screen as the killing of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is announced in Kabul
A man who said he was dressed as "Captain America," cheers early Monday, May 2, 20111, across the street from the White House in Washington, as people gather to cheer the United States after it was announced that Osama bin Laden has been killed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Osama Bin Laden, the al Qaida leader, appears on this layout for an FBI poster after he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in June 1999, in connection with the bombings of the U.S.
A crowd outside the White House in Washington, cheers Sunday, May 1, 2011, upon hearing the news that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is dead. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
A driver and passengers celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in the streets of Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, May 1, 2011. President Barack Obama announced Sunday night, May 1, 2011, that Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation led by the United States.(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
A crowd in New York's Times Square reacts to the news of Osama Bin Laden's death early Monday morning May 2, 2011. President Barack Obama announced Sunday night, May 1, 2011, that Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation led by the United States. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Dustin Fredrickson, of New York, center, holds up an American flag as he stands on a fire truck amongst those gathered in New York's Times Square reacting to the news of Osama Bin Laden's death early Monday morning May 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
A man who said he was dressed as "Captain America," cheers early Monday, May 2, 20111, across the street from the White House in Washington, as people gather to cheer the United States after it was announced that Osama bin Laden has been killed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, early Monday, May 2, 2011, after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Smoke, flames and debris erupt from one of the World Trade Center towers after a plane strikes it, in New York.
A U.S. Park Police officer is handed a flag as crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, early Monday, May 2, 2011, after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, early Monday, May 2, 2011, after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
This April 1998 file photo is thought to show exiled al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan
Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a US operation (AP)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: A giant flag covers the Green Monster as the national anthem is played before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels on May 2, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Both teams lined up on the baseline to observe a moment of silence to honor those that have died from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: A giant flag covers the Green Monster as the national anthem is played before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels on May 2, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Both teams lined up on the baseline to observe a moment of silence to honor those that have died from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
1998 file photo, onlookers stand at the foot of the damaged buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, after a huge explosion ripped apart a building in the Kenyan capital, heavily destroying the U.S. Embassy. Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaida organization behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States and blamed for the 1998 embassy bombing in Kenya and Tanzania, is dead, a person familiar with the situation said late Sunday. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim, File)
In this undated still from video released Sept. 10, 2003, Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, left, and his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri appear. A person familiar with developments on Sunday, May 1, 2011 says bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has the body. (AP Photo/Al Jazeera via APTN)
In this Oct. 7, 2001, file photo, Osama bin Laden, left, with his top lieutenant Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahri, are seen at an undisclosed location in this television image broadcast. A person familiar with developments said Sunday, May 1, 2011 that bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has the body. (AP Photo/Al Jazeera, File)
Crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, early Monday, May 2, 2011, after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

So why are we in Afghanistan? Didn't the Americans and the British go there in 2001 to fight Osama bin Laden? Wasn't he killed on Monday?

There was painful symbolism in the Nato airstrike yesterday – scarcely 24 hours after Bin Laden's death – that killed yet more Afghan security guards. For the truth is that we long ago lost the plot in the graveyard of empires, turning a hunt for a now largely irrelevant inventor of global jihad into a war against tens of thousands of Taliban insurgents who have little interest in al-Qa'ida, but much enthusiasm to drive Western armies out of their country.



The gentle hopes of Hamid Karzai and Hillary Clinton – that the Taliban will be so cowed by the killing of Bin Laden that they will want to become pleasant democrats and humbly join the Western-supported and utterly corrupt leadership of Afghanistan – shows just how out of touch they are with the blood-soaked reality of the country. Some of the Taliban admired Bin Laden, but they did not love him and he had been no part of their campaign against Nato. Mullah Omar is more dangerous to the West in Afghanistan than Bin Laden. And we haven't killed Omar.

Iran, for once, spoke for millions of Arabs in its response to Bin Laden's death. "An excuse for alien countries to deploy troops in this region under the pretext of fighting terrorism has been eliminated," its foreign ministry spokesman has said. "We hope this development will end war, conflict, unrest and the death of innocent people, and help to establish peace and tranquility in the region."



Newspapers across the Arab world said the same thing. If this is such a great victory for the United States, it's time to go home; which, of course, the US has no intention of doing just now.



That many Americans think the same thing is not going to change the topsy-turvy world in which US policy is framed. For there is one home truth which the world still has not grasped: that the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt – and, more pressing, the bloodbaths in Libya and Syria and the dangers to Lebanon – are of infinitely graver importance than blowing away a bearded man who has been elevated in the West's immature imagination into Hitlerian proportions.



Turkish prime minister Erdogan's brilliant address in Istanbul yesterday – calling for the Syrians to stop killing their people and for Gaddafi to leave Libya – was more eloquent, more powerful and more historic than the petty, boastful, Hollywood speeches of Obama and Clinton on Monday. We are now wasting our time speculating who will "take over" al-Qa'ida – Zawahiri or Saif al-Adel – when the movement has no "leadership" as such, Bin Laden being the founder rather than the boss.



But, a day being a long time in the killing fields of the Middle East, just 24 hours after Osama Bin Laden died, other questions were growing thicker yesterday. If, for example, Barack Obama really thinks the world is "a safer place" after Bin Laden's death, how come the US has increased its threat alert and embassies around the world are being told to take extra precautions against attack?



And just what did happen in that tatty compound – no longer, it seems, a million-dollar "mansion" – when Bin Laden's sulphurous life was brought to an end? Human Rights Watch is unlikely to be the only institution to demand a "thorough, transparent investigation" into the killing.



There was an initial story from Pentagon "sources" which had two of Bin Laden's wives killed and a woman held as a "human shield" dying too. Within hours, the wives were alive and in some accounts, the third woman simply disappeared.



And then of course, there's Pakistan, eagerly telling the world that it participated in the attack on Bin Laden, only to have President Zardari retract the entire story yesterday. Two hours later, we had an American official describing the attack on Bin Laden as a "shared achievement".



And there's Bin Laden's secret burial in the Arabian Sea. Was this planned before the attack on Bin Laden, with the clear plan to kill rather than capture him? And if it was carried out "according to Islamic rights" – the dead man's body washed and placed in a white shroud – it must have taken a long time for the officer on the USS Carl Vinson to devise a 50-minute religious ceremony and arrange for an Arabic-speaking sailor to translate it.



So now for a reality check. The world is not safer for Bin Laden's killing. It is safer because of the winds of freedom blowing through the Middle East. If the West treats the people of this region with justice rather than military firepower, then al-Qa'ida becomes even more irrelevant than it has been since the Arab revolutions.



Of course, there is one positive side for the Arab world. With Bin Laden killed, the Gaddafis and the Salehs and the Assads will find it all the more difficult to claim that a man who is now dead is behind the popular revolutions trying to overthrow them.

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