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.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation