The world is not safer

Witold Dudzinski

The information about the killing of the head of Al-Kaida evoked euphoria in the USA. Thousands of cheering people gathered in city centres. The crowds arrived at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York, where in 2001 after the attacks of the planes the buildings of the World Trade Center fell burying 3,000 people. 'It closes a certain chapter,' people told reporters at Ground Zero. 'Catching or killing bin Laden was a matter of honour.'
The leaders of the countries belonging to the anti-terrorist coalition, including the Prime Ministers of Great Britain, Italy and Israel as well as Poland, expressed satisfaction about the fact of eliminating the head of Al-Kaida. 'We all felt relieved since justice triumphed', Donald Tusk said. 'It is an important day to Poland,' President Bronislaw Komorowski added. 'We have woken up in a safer world,' said Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament.
Is the death of Osama bin Ladin in Abbottabad in Pakistan a turning point in the war against terrorism? Not necessarily: it does not mean the end of this organisation. Since Al-Kaida is a network (al-kaida means 'network' and the organisation has such a decentralised structure: many loosely connected terrorist organisations), does not have a headquarters and its members are not dependent on one leader's decisions. The death of the leader and ideologist will not make the organisation fall apart. Threats will remain. One should also take into account attacks against Christians in the Middle East since Christians are regarded as being related to the West.
No wonder that the US authorities are playing it safe. The CIA Director Leon Panetta said that Al-Kaida 'will certainly take revenge.' Desiring to take revenge for the dead leader the terrorists can launch terrorist attacks against places and US citizens first of al in the Middle East countries as well as in the territory of the United States and Europe.

The brand of Al-Kaida

General Slawomir Petelicki, the co-creator and former commander of GROM, evaluates that Osama bin Laden's death did not cause an essential turning point in the war against terrorism because it could not. And what about the fact that the Americans fell into euphoria? It can be explained by the fact that they regarded it as justice done for the deaths of 3,000 innocent people in the attacks on 11 September 2001. But if someone thought that it was the beginning of the end of terrorism his joy was too early. It is hard to expect that the death of one man would decide about the end of the war against terrorism.
The threat of terrorist attacks will not diminish but will increase,' the general stressed. 'Al-Kaida will have to show that it is active and dangerous. Today it has followers almost in the whole world. On the one hand, they are poor people, e.g. masses of Muslims in Indonesia and on the other hand, they are the drug bosses. Terrorism is also the narcotics business. The narcotics bosses want to protect the brand name of Al-Kaida so that it will be treated with respect and could defend its interests.
In the Muslim dominated Indonesia there were perhaps the most emotional demonstrations showing dissatisfaction about the killing of the head of Al-Kaida. In the Javanese town of Solo the manifestation was organised by the new organisation called Al-Kaida Solo aiming at attacks against the USA. A group of veiled men in white religious robes marched through the streets of Solo, announcing a continuation of terrorist activities of bin Laden. And the ideologist of this group announced that the group had one hundred people ready to give their lives in revenge for the death of the martyr who had given his life in the struggle to free the Muslim world. For them the death of Osama bin Laden was the birth of a new shahid (martyr) and with his name on their lips successive masses of fighters, stupefied by the crazy idea of falsely understood Islam, can give their lives.

Propaganda success

'The killing of Osama bin Laden, who had been observed for many months, in his fortress in Islamabad, happened at a favourable moment for the American administration,' many commentators say. Barack Obama must have needed some success since his presidency could not boast of any success,' says Dr. Przemyslaw Zurawski vel Grajewski, a specialist in political studies at the University of Lodz.
But there have been almost no changes as for the terrorists' threats. The technical skills of Al-Kaida to attack have neither increased nor decreased. It should be rather considered in the categories of propaganda success, directed to the public opinion in the USA and Western Europe, which is the conviction that the United States are able to manage to find even the most conspiratorial enemy', the specialist in political studies thinks.
Are they? Not fully but nevertheless, as General Petelicki says, for these 10-15 years when they were hunting the founder of Al-Kaida, the US special services have learnt a lot. Osama bin Laden, who came from Saudi Arabia, became the number one enemy of the USA in the 1990s. The organisation he directed launched many attacks, including the attacks on the building of the World Trade Center in 1993 (six people were killed in the explosion and over 1,000 were injured) and in 1998 when the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked.
Then the attacks affected Europe that was involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the bomb attacks on the suburban trains in Madrid in 2004 ca. 200 people were killed and a year later the bomb attacks in the underground and buses in London killed over 50 people. The western countries began considering the risk of terrorist bomb attacks as the most serious ones of the contemporary threats.
Huge means were invested in safety systems and trainings of special services responsible for fighting against terrorism and reacting in case of terrorist attacks. Thanks to the stricter safety procedures many terrorist attacks prepared or inspired by Al-Kaida were prevented.

American boys

'The threat of terrorism is bigger but the preparation of special services to prevent and fight terrorism is better,' General Petelicki says. 'Many treasures were found in bin Laden's fortress. It is officially known that so many valuable materials have never been found at a single terrorist and earlier many a time very important materials were found in terrorists' places.'
'Terrorism will never be fully neutralised,' stresses General Petelicki. Such actions as the killing of bin Laden cannot neutralise terrorism but the morale of the services that helped to find out and eliminate the Saudi Arabian man must have increased, which is very important to this struggle. 'The preparation of the special services to prevent and fight terrorism is better, which is clearly shown by the fact that after 11 September 2001 there have been no terrorist attacks in the USA and after all it is a huge country,' he says.
'Al-Kaida will desire to take revenge,' Dr. Przemyslaw Zurawski vel Grajewski thinks, 'and it is worth noticing that it has not attacked the United Stated since 2001, which obviously does not mean that Al-Kaida did not want that. But it proves that the American anti-terrorist system has been effective.'
The action in Pakistan, which was prepared perfectly, also shows (specifically) the professionalism of the special services. 'The Americans could not risk their soldiers' lives,' Slawomir Petelicki stresses. 'They could not allow bin Laden to blow up the explosives. If the American soldiers had been killed the public opinion would not have forgiven Obama like it did not forgive Carter's failure in Iran in the 1980s when during the attempt to liberate the hostages the American rangers were killed. Carter lost power after those events.'

Hard situation of Christians

'Christians in the Middle East should be afraid of the effects of bin Laden's death. They are facing revenge,' warns Dr. Adam Bieniek, a specialist in the Oriental studies at the Jagiellonian University. 'In the near future one can expect revenge attacks against Christians. As usual, they will be attacks against the Assyrians in Iraq and Copts in Egypt - a near and fairly easy target,' he claims.
And although bin Laden enjoyed no respect in the Muslim world (he was most popular in the Palestinian Autonomy) his death and its circumstances moved Muslims in many countries and it can affect directly the situation of Christians in the Middle East since they are associated with the western civilisation,' notices Dr. Tomasz Korczynski from the Polish branch of Aid to the Church in Need.
'The Christians in Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia are facing the biggest threats and also recently in Syria, which seems to be most friendly towards Christians, ' Dr. Tomasz Korczynski says. 'There the rebels are exerting strong pressure on Christians to join the protests against the regime of Asada. Who knows how it might end.'
'It does matter who will seize power and maintain it as far as the situation of Christians in that region is concerned,' Dr. Korczynski stresses. 'If the Muslim radicals do it the situation of Christians will be something not to be envied. One should also consider a new wave of persecutions in Pakistan itself where the radicals have not concealed their hatred towards Christians.'

"Niedziela" 21/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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