After nine-and-a-half years of pursuit, one of the world’s most dangerous men reaped what he sowed, early yesterday morning. Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi millionaire who left a trail of death and devastation behind him, is dead.
Despite what is already being hailed as a victory for embattled US President Barack Obama, the death of the al-Qaeda leader will not bring an end to the threat of international terrorism for several reasons — some of which were probably foreseen by bin Laden himself.
Since the devastating Sept. 11 terror attacks on the US, which reinvigorated the hunt for a man who had already been sought by the US for about a decade, bin Laden’s organization has become increasingly decentralized, so much so that terrorism experts and intelligence agencies are often at a loss to determine whether certain terrorist organizations are part of bin Laden’s network or not.
In many instances, despite the fact that some members of terror organizations received training at al-Qaeda terror camps in the 1990s, many of the organizations they formed have proven themselves to be financially and tactically independent, meaning that they have not relied on bin Laden for financial support or operational planning.
As such, despite bin Laden’s death, those terrorist organizations that belong to the “al-Qaeda” franchise only inasmuch as they share certain aspects of its ideology, will continue to exist and threaten mayhem.
What this means is that as long as the conditions that motivate groups to resort to terrorism are not addressed, the slaying of one man, however influential a rallying figure he may have been, or indeed still proves to be, the instrument of terror will not go away.
Despite claims by former US president George W. Bush’s administration and others that al-Qaeda was targeting the West because it abhorred its democracy and freedom, there is ample evidence that for the great majority of those who support Islamic extremist organizations, the real reasons for that support are far more pragmatic and localized than ideological. Among these factors are opposition to repressive regimes propped up by the West and wars of national liberation pitting weak oppositions against a modern military (again often funded by the West).
The widening gap between rich and poor that is now occurring on a global scale, which is often, if somewhat unfairly, blamed on US-style capitalism, also remains an object of hatred for many have-nots, pushing some to adopt violence as a last, desperate resort. Unless that iniquity is resolved, poverty will continue to feed the sense of injustice that, for some, apparently makes commiting violence against civilians a just cause.
Terrorist organizations often vow revenge following the death of their leader and there is no reason to believe that al-Qaeda will be an exception.
Aside from the need for the new leadership to prove its mettle, in order to remain relevant such organizations must prove to their “audience” that they remain a threat. For terrorist groups, nothing signals relevance more than turning rhetoric into action.
Already, Interpol has warned of a “heightened terror risk” amid the high likelihood of reprisals.
Undoubtedly, al-Qaeda has been struck a serious blow with the killing of bin Laden and this will likely have an impact on its finances. However, this development by no means diminishes the threat posed by global terror.
The fundamental problem is political in nature and simply cannot be resolved by force.
An outrageous dismissal of the exemplary Taiwanese fight against COVID-19 has been perpetrated by the EU. There is no excuse. I presume that everyone who reads the Taipei Times knows that the EU has excluded Taiwan from its so-called “safe list,” which permits citizens unhindered travel to and from the countries of the EU. As the EU does not feel that it needs to explain the character of this exclusive list, perhaps we should examine it ourselves in some detail. There are 14 nations on the list that have been chosen as safe countries of origin and safe countries of destination for
Filmmakers in Taiwan used to struggle when it came to telling a story that could resonate internationally. Things started to change when the 2017 drama series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a collaboration between HBO Asia and Taiwanese Public Television Service (PTS), became a huge hit not just locally, but also internationally. The coming-of-age story was adapted from the 2013 PTS-produced short film The Busy Young Psychic (神算). Entirely filmed in Taiwan, the Mandarin-language series even made it on HBO’s streaming platforms in the US. It is proof that a well-told Taiwanese story can absolutely win the hearts and minds of hard-to-please
Drugged with sedatives, handcuffed and wearing a bright orange prison tunic, British fraud investigator and former journalist Peter Humphrey was escorted by warders into an interrogation room filled with reporters, locked inside a steel cage and fastened to a metal “tiger chair.” Humphrey recalls: “I was completely surrounded by officers, dazed, manacled and with cameras pointing at me through the bars. I was fighting for my life like a caged animal. It was horrifying.” Footage from the interrogation was later artfully edited to give the appearance of a confession and broadcast on Chinese state media. While this might sound like an
The US House of Representatives on July 1 passed by unanimous consent a bipartisan bill that would penalize Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s new national security legislation in Hong Kong, as well as banks that do business with them. The following day, the US Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was later sent to the White House, where it awaits US President Donald Trump’s signature. The bill does not spell out what the sanctions would look like and Trump has yet to sign it into law, but Reuters on Thursday last week reported that five major Chinese state lenders are considering