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ClearDot.gif (85 bytes) Capturing Osama (cont.)
. . . . . .

In all these cases, the leaders offer characteristics – charisma, power, ruthlessness – critical to their organizations. If no other figure can replace these strengths, then rivalries, incoherence, and decline result.

• • • • • •
George Bush is a September 12 person
...John Kerry is a September 10 person

But in several ways, bin Laden’s elimination would not fit this pattern.

  • Being only one of his organization’s key figures, his disappearance will not devastate Al-Qaeda.
  • Al-Qaeda is more “an ide­ology, an agenda and a way of seeing the world” (writes Jason Burke, author of Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror) than an operating terrorist force.
  • And Al-Qaeda being just one of many jihadist organizations around the world, its decline would do little to abate the wave of militant Islamic violence in such places as Algeria, Egypt, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

While Bin Laden personally symbolizes militant Islam and his continued ability to elude coalition forces inspires his Islamist followers, his capture or execution would have a mainly psychological impact by demoralizing those followers. His elimination would certainly be a blow to his movement, but one it could readily recover from. “His capture won’t end terrorism’s danger,” Robert Andrews rightly noted in a recent USA Today article.

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