A Google search for "Osama bin Laden" returns more than 64 million results. I Google searched other important and famous people of the present and past, including Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa, no one came close to Osama bin Laden. I know high number of returns from the Google search does not tell whether the person is being divine or devilish. Nevertheless, it is a good barometer to judge how much global interest and news the person has generated and how much spotlight he stole. When it comes to Internet traffic generated by piqued international interest, Osama wins hands down.
One group of people around the world reviles him as the personification of evil, a terrorist and fanatic, whereas, the other set of the crowd respects and admires Osama as a warrior, fighting against the West's imperialism. After his murder, his admirers reverentially call him Shaheed-e-Abbottabad (Martyr of Abbottabad), and he has a large number of admirers.
Those who despise Osama, by and large, belong to two groups. In the first group are the people of the Christian West, as one heading says, "Rejoice, Justice is Done: a Common Enemy of the Christian West is no more!" The other group of Osama haters consists of the tin pot kings and dictators, and the secular and liberal folks - a small portion of the population - of the Muslim world. The kings and dictators who are creations and protg of the west took Osama as a threat to their dynastic and dictatorial rule.
The folks who admire and appreciate Osama are children of a lesser god, suppressed and subjected to inferior status and inferior fate. Those who are denied their freedom to live a dignified existence have embraced Osama as a symbol of resistance against the foreign occupiers and their local surrogates.
As jubilant crowds in the U.S. and Europe celebrated Osama's death, millions in the Muslim countries in all continents mourned his departure and offered prayers to the departed soul. Christians of East Timor, carved from Muslim Indonesia, may have rejoiced in the death of Osama, but Muslims of Kashmir, denied secession from India, were saddened by his death. Muslim sycophant rulers were relieved by Osama's murder, but it pained the common citizens.
Osama bin Laden became so much of hate figure in the west that the name Osama carries a significant stigma and his namesakes are subjected to interrogation and harassment at the banks and the airports of the West. Conversely, Osama bin Laden became so esteemed a person among the Muslim masses that Osama became a popular name for newborn Muslim boys in many parts of the Muslim world.
Osama is hated in the U.S. for his alleged complicity in 9/11 incident. However, his involvement in the 9/11 attack is remained to be proven yet. When Muckraker Report in June 2006 asked FBI why Bin Laden's Most Wanted poster did not mention that Osama was also wanted in connection with 9/11. The FBI response was, "The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama Bin Laden's Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."
Till today, the only evidence of Osama's complicity in 9/11 presented by the U.S. is a poor quality videotape - evidence that will not lead to conviction in a just and fair court of law.
Similarly, no evidence was found of Al-Qaida or Osama's logistic or financial collaboration with the group who pulled off the March 11, 2004, bombings in Madrid, Spain. Scott Atran, a Presidential Scholar of Sociology and Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who witnessed the trial, said: "There isn't the slightest bit of evidence of any relationship with al-Qaida. We've been looking at it closely for years and we've been briefed by everybody under the sun ... and nothing connects them."
Also, no link has been established between Al-Qaida or Osama and the British suicide bombers who killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005.
However, these attacks may have been inspired by Osama's clarion call to fight the invaders and occupiers Muslim land.
Osama's modus operandi against the violent hegemony of the West may come into question, but the legitimacy of his cause - driving the invaders and occupiers, out of Muslim land - is unquestionable. The right to resist foreign invasion and occupation is a legitimate, sacred, and internationally recognized right of a people stipulated in the preface of the U. N. Charter and the Human Rights Declaration.
The former U.S. secretary of States Colin Powell recently called Osama, "the worst person on the earth." Secretary Powell's claim about Osama is perhaps as credible as his famous or infamous pre-war U.N. speech falsely accusing Iraq of harboring weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell, after Iraq was occupied and pulverized, regretted his speech and called it a "blot" on his record. He may, after sober reflection, regret his comments about Osama.
When it comes to spilling blood of innocents and bringing deaths and destructions and reviving the Dark Age regimen of torture of prisoners, Colin Powell's former boss has no competition in today's world. If we take all the charges of attacks and murders against Osama as true and factual and compare it with President Bush's proven record of crimes against humanity, we will be horribly surprised; Osama's alleged crimes amount to an insignificant drop in the bucket compared to what Bush's hand had wringed. The untold barbarism that befell prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay alone is enough to put Osama to shame many times over.
Like any other revolutionary and resistant fighter, Osama bin Laden was a product of his place and time; he was born in a world where injustice reigned supreme. He saw his people occupied and oppressed, maimed and murdered, tormented and tortured either by the foreign occupiers or by native dictators implanted by foreign powers. He saw bloodbath in Afghanistan and Iraq; bombing deaths of Muslim children labeled as collateral damage and thus of no consequence; constant brutal occupation of Palestine, Kashmir, and Chechnya; the sad plight of Moro Muslims in Philippines and Uighurs Muslims in Xinjiang. He saw sycophant rulers of Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan providing U.S. the secret detention facilities where kidnapped Muslim detainees are tortured and abused. His was a reaction to a very physical and psychological assault against Muslims around the world.
The killing of Osama may provide the West a face saving exit from its fruitless decade old war in Afghanistan, but not from the "war on terror". Muslim militancy will not die with the demise of a man on kidney dialysis hiding in a compound. It will only end when the West will stop imposing its political and economic hegemony over Muslim nations for its perceived political and economic interests. Until then, little David will keep striking the mighty Goliath from a slingshot.
The creation of equitable world is an essential prerequisite to end the violent political ideologies.
Abdul-Majid Jaffry is a retired aerospace engineer and a freelance columnist.
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