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Is Osama dead more dangerous than Osama alive?

Last updated on: May 2, 2011 12:29 IST

Is Osama dead more dangerous than Osama alive?

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Sheela Bhatt

Will a dead Osama bin Laden be more dangerous than alive?

There is no doubt that terrorist groups will confer martyrdom on him. After all, Islamic history is full of examples where martyrs attract greater following than living leaders. Naturally, then, the Al Qaeda would soon declare martyrdom for Osama.

The United States has killed Osama and recovered his body, but every little action and symbolism on the part of America in dealing with his death would matter to anti-American terrorist groups.

For a section of Muslims, Osama was the symbol. He was a fighter against injustice to Islam. For the rest, he was the symbol of terror.

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Image: Al Qaeda founder/leader Osama bin Laden
Photographs: Reuters
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Despite Osama's death, terror is far from over

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There is no doubt that he was becoming less and less influential since hiding was becoming difficult and had taken a toll on his health and operations.

Still, after his death he is likely to haunt the world for some time to come, till the ideology that made the Al Qaeda is defeated. The Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harkat-Ul-Jihad are far from over.

Osama inspired rich and poor Muslim youth in the Middle East, Africa, central Asian countries and even Europe. Many Americans like David Coleman Headley were attracted to terrorism only after Osama's rise in the Islamic mindscape.

The death of Osama is already discounted by these foot soldiers and it is unlikely that these young people would go home leaving behind their anger.


Image: Captured Afghan Al Qaeda members sit on a bench as they are presented to the media in Tora Bora, in this file picture taken on December 17, 2001
Photographs: Erik de Castro/Reuters
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Osama was successful in considerably weakening US

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Osama took on the American empire single-handedly, as no one had done before. He not only shook America, he was also successful in considerably weakening America.

In times of recession the US was forced to spend billions on its security. America's debatable reaction to Osama helped him survive more than he deserved to.

Osama's negative ideology is a matter of debate and history but the US reaction to Osama also divided the world. Osama was successful, but only in the short term. He misled the US to Iraq and Afghanistan, two deadly and absurdly costly wars that Americans want to forget as Osama's body is buried. 

 


Image: The World Trade Center south tower (L) burst into flames after being struck by hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 as the north tower burns following an earlier attack by a hijacked airliner in New York City on September 11, 2001
Photographs: Sean Adair SV/Reuters
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India's plurality and openness frustrated Osama

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However, at this tumultuous historic moment in contemporary terrorism, India has something to root for. India's plurality and openness frustrated Osama.

As India understands the handling of violence, it defeated Osama much before his death.

Except for India-born Dhiren Barot, there are no Indians in the top hierarchy of the Al Qaeda. Barot is also an aberration who had converted to Islam under pressure from his peer group in Britain.

After 2001, Indian shores were wary of the arrival of the Al Qaeda in the country. But, when Osama is dead, India must remember with pride that Indian ethos failed Osama.


Image: US President Barack Obama walks down the Cross Hall of the White House after announcing the death of Osama bin Laden
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters
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India must chart its 'post-Osama' policy

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Surely, India has social fault-lines. There is a sense of injustice among certain sections. But, there are collective efforts and an emerging hope that within India's borders, inside society and with help of community leaders, Indian Islam will find its solutions and is, already, finding political rights.

His death will remind India how important it is to spread a sense of justice to all sections of society to keep away the Osamas of the world. 

Although Osama was not as influential in his last years, his death will still boost the security forces of NATO and Americans who were directly fighting them.

Osama is dead but a weakened Al Qaeda and its sundry branches are spread around just a few hundred kilometres from Indian borders. As India followed its own policy during the Osama years, India should chart its own, however lonely but independent, course in fighting whatever be the legacy of Osama bin Laden.


Image: File image US Marines and sailors shoot pictures on the move of Osama bin Laden during a training
Photographs: Reuters
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