End of an Era: ‘Leader and symbol’ of al Qaeda killed in Pakistan

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By Brian Karimi

Osama bin Laden, the single biggest influencer of United States foreign policy for the last decade, was killed in a shootout with American special forces in Pakistan on Sunday.

As crowds at the White House and Ground Zero swelled, students ran through Union’s campus wearing American flags yelling “We did it baby!” The Twitter-sphere bloated, Facebook statuses updated instantly, and a generation that has sacrificed so greatly for America’s War on Terror rejoiced throughout the country.

Prominent politicians across the nation released statements congratulating Obama and his team, explaining that a decade-long quest for justice had finally come to a close.

Since August, the president had been receiving the best information since 2001 as to bin Laden’s whereabouts. When he felt the information was reliable enough, the president gave the green light for a secret operation inside Pakistan which raided a compound and left the creator of al Qaeda and 9/11 architect dead.

Four helicopters loaded with 79 commandos attacked the compound, leaving five dead. One was a tall bearded man, confirmed remotely by facial recognition technology to be Osama bin Laden.

[pullquote]The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history…

Barack ObamaPresident of the U.S.[/pullquote]

Pakistani officials are said to have cooperated with the U.S. in the attack but were not informed before it began. Serious questions have been raised regarding Pakistan’s honesty, as for years the country claimed no knowledge of the al Qaeda leader’s location. He was finally found deep within the country’s boarders in the town of Abbottabad, just 35 miles outside the capital city of Islamabad.

In his speech on Sunday evening, the president made it clear that America and Pakistan were still on the same side of the international war on terror.

“But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, Bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.”

The success of the attack will likely give America’s intelligence community a break from the sharp criticism it has endured since bin Laden’s massive attack on American soil succeeded almost a decade ago.

[pullquote]Pakistan, perhaps the world’s greatest victim of terrorism, joins in…satisfaction that the source of the greatest evil of the new millennium has been silenced…

Asif Ali ZardariPresident of Pakistan[/pullquote]

The failure to prevent that attack, and the misinformation provided to the American public regarding Iraq’s weaponry, greatly undermined confidence in American intelligence as a whole. For the president, the elimination of al Qaeda’s figurehead will surely be employed as testament to his national security credentials.

Pundits, comedians, and politicians alike have already begun posing questions as to the necessity of the Afghan war, noting that bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan suggests al Qaeda has relocated elsewhere.

Pressure on the administration to withdraw from Afghanistan will likely mount if critics of the war use bin Laden’s location to demonstrate that the war there has become less fruitful.

The president referred to bin Laden as the “leader and symbol” of al Qaeda in his address. For the history books, it serves, at the very least, as a type of end to a long and costly war overseas.

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