Sunday, September 18, 2005


How come we haven't caught Bin Laden yet?

It’s been over a week since the anniversary of 9/11 and it’s been four years since that tragic event which has led to the War on Terror. I remember the events of 9/11 and the shock that went around the world. The images that were show on TV looked more like a Hollywood disaster film than reality. It soon became apparent that it was the work of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network of terrorists.

I have been to New York a few times before and since 9/11. It is my favourite city. Walking through Manhattan in-between the skyscrapers is simply amazing. My girlfriend and I were due to fly to New York on Friday 14th September but we decided to cancel as the planes had been grounded and flights were still disorganized. We went a year a later and traveled down the East Coast from New York to Florida. Nothing could beat New York in visual splendour and yet the New York skyline looked so much less without the Twin Towers. This seems strange at first, as before I had the impression that the Towers weren’t particularly liked but now they have gone – they are missed.

I am glad that New York is rebuilding and will build another set of towers in defiance to the terrorists. Knock us down and we will get back up again. Whereas Washington represents American politics – New York seems to represent the world. No wonder the UN is based here. Although often hated by some American commentators, it seems appropriate that the world meets in New York to discuss its business. More important than the buildings is the memory of all those people who lost their lives on that day. By attacking the offices of everyday people, many from different nationalities, backgrounds and beliefs, the terrorists show their contempt for innocent lives.

The terrorists are cowards who strike at the most vulnerable in society. They do not care what your beliefs are as long as they make a statement and their evil deeds are televised to a horrified world. Bin Laden has vowed to kill Americans. For all the politics and history of America’s involvement in the Middle East he will blame every American. For some reason they believe that killing innocents will give them martyrdom and will help their fellow Muslims. Instead, within the last 4 years it has caused two wars within two Muslim countries and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Also it has heightened tension towards Muslims in western societies.

Instead of backfiring, this is probably what Bin Laden wants. In his religious extremism he wants a holy and very bloody war between the East and the West. A Jihad. After the events of 9/11, the US government showed great restraint in not immediately lashing out but decided take it’s time and investigate. Finally the US launched a military campaign against Afghanistan along with the help of coalition and anti-Taleban forces. This seems entirely reasonable and legitimate. Despite terrorist atrocities happening regularly all round the world – this was the first major attack on the mainland US. America had finally woken up.

9/11 was linked to Al-Qaeda who had established terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda was foolishly allowed in by their Islamic fundamentalists, the Taleban who also refuse to eject its ‘guests’ as they saw it. To kill the fleas, the US had to kill the mangy creature that festers on it which was no great loss. Toppling the Taleban who repressed the Afghans, particularly women, was an added bonus. Yet right from the start this campaign had a focus and that was to remove the Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and capture Bin Laden.

Unfortunately Bin Laden is still on the run presumably somewhere around Afghanistan and Pakistan border. Whilst Afghanistan is a very mountainous country which the British and the Russians have difficulty controlling in the past, the Americans and coalition forces had managed to occupy the capital, Kabul and other major Afghan cities. Outside these areas it seems the situation is more volatile. Since then it has gone quiet on the hunt for Bin Laden despite the bounty that is on his head.

Al Qaeda has since struck with cowardly bombings in Madrid, Bali and London with their trademark indiscriminate killings. Again their purpose seems unclear or at least muddled. They want America and Western forces to leave the Middle East and yet they don’t see that after each atrocity this makes the West’s resolve even firmer. During World War II Hitler thought his Luftwaffe could bomb Londoners and the British generally into submission but again this only made them stronger.

The good news is that the people of Afghanistan have now been allowed, for the first time in decades, to vote for their government. Besides the removal of the Taleban, this is another secondary benefit from the American led campaign. This was not the reason why the US went into the country in the first place. It is not the role of western powers to overthrow all non-democracies by use of force purely because they are not democratic. If the war is convincingly won then the victor can and usually does impose a new system of governing. After World War II, Germany and Japan became successful democracies after they were remodeled after defeat.

At the time, some people wanted to give the Taleban more time and doubted that Al Qaeda caused the 9/11 atrocity. The time had ran out for the Taleban, who were stalling for time and Bin Laden has willingly boasted about his involvement in 9/11. After the events of 9/11 there was tremendous sympathy and support for the US. Unfortunately after the Afghan campaign, President Bush decided to include other countries who were unconnected to Al-Qaeda in his War on Terror. As we know this has resulted in the Iraq War. Saddam Hussein, an old enemy of George Bush’s father, was ideologically opposed to and by Al-Queda.

It is the Iraq war which has done more to divide the Middle East and the Western allies. Unlike the Afghan war – I believe the Iraq War was not justified by the reasons that were given by Bush, Blair and their apologists. Now that Saddam is in prison I hope the focus returns back to the hunt for Bin Laden. For it is he who masterminded the atrocity of 9/11 and if we want justice for the victims on that day – then we need to put this truly evil man in jail.

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