Terrorism

About Osama: What Took So Long? Are Navy SEALS Still an "Assassination Ring"? What Was the Role of Torture? And is Jihadi Violence Over?

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Elizabeth Frierson, a historian of the Middle East at University of Cincinnati responds to the killing of Osama bin Laden:

What took them so long? I was deeply suspicious of the location. It sounds to me as if he was being protected by the Pakistanis….

I think the ruling elite in Pakistan is deeply divided. Some elements were protecting bin Laden and some were trying to get him out of Pakistan. I think it told us a great deal about military politics in Pakistan that he was there. And I think it told us a great deal about civilian politics in Pakistan as well.

Real Clear Politics documents Keith Olbermann's change of heart toward a crew of special ops he once called extra-legal assassins:

…no sooner than two years later did Olby change his tune when the same squad that he called an "assassination ring" was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. On his "FOK News Channel" website, Mr. Olbermann now salutes these heroic individuals.

In the wake of the killing of Bin Laden, it's not fully clear what role torture (or enhanced interrogation, or whatever you want to call it) had on the mission. Here's Michael Isikoff at msnbc.com:

The behind-the-scenes story of how bin Laden was finally located is yet to be fully told, but emerging details seem likely to reignite the debate over whether "enhanced interrogation" techniques and other aggressive methods that have been widely criticized by human rights groups provided useful – or timely—intelligence about al-Qaida. While some current and former U.S. officials credited those interrogations Monday with producing the big break in the case, others countered that they failed to produce what turned out to be the most crucial piece of intelligence of all: the identity and whereabouts of the most important figure in bin Laden courier's network.

"Multiple sources of intelligence led us to where we are," one senior U.S. intelligence official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Monday. "Key information was gleaned from detainees (and) that detainee reporting provided insight into the (bin Laden) courier network."

As Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, Bush apologists and Obama champions argue about what if any role torture played in getting key bits of information that led to the raid on Osama's Pakistani refuge, here's a really interesting piece by Mark Juergensmeyer about why "The Jihadi Revolution is Dead" and why "Bin Laden's Death Didn't Kill It":

Tahrir Square is a profound anti-jihadi lesson, and its significance has spread around the world. It has ignited similar nonviolent protests elsewhere in the Middle East, and it may also have altered the thinking of activists in other cultures as well. Intense discussion is underway in Palestine, where the Hamas-dominated strategy of strategic violence has been largely counterproductive; will a new nonviolent and non-extremist movement of young educated Palestinian professionals create a different kind of impetus for change in their region of the Middle East?

The rise of a new nonviolent popularism in the Middle East may seriously undercut the viability of the jihadi image of violent social change. On the other hand, a significant number of failures of nonviolent resistence may lead to a violent backlash once again. Not all protests will end like Tunisia and Egypt. Others will be ruthlessly crushed, as was the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009. The current protests in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Libya face an uncertain end. Failure of nonviolent revolution has, in the past, been the occasion for renewed acts of violence.

So the jihadi warriors may again have their day. For the moment, however, bin Laden is dead, and Tahrir Square has challenged both the strategic value and the moral legitimacy of the jihadi stance. The legion of young Muslim activists around the world have received a new standard for challenging the old order, and a new form of protest, one that discredits terrorism as the easy and ineffective path and chooses the tough and profitable road of nonviolence.

Hat tip to the above piece goes to Kenan Malik's great Twitter feed.

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: Osama Story Confuses, Levee Breaks, Canadian Tories Stomp

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  1. a significant number of failures of nonviolent resistence may will lead to a violent backlash once again

  2. Watching the coverage of this has been stomach churning for me. The primary reason is that I hear arguments that I once bought into. I hear views that I once espoused. I hear reactions that, had this occured five years ago or more I myself would have had. How could I have ever believed those things?

    Eduction is what is needed if we want a free country. We need to teach more people about the true history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

    1. What a word to misspell! I missed an “a” in education.

      1. ‘Eduction’ sounds about right…

      2. Weak pinkies are an early sign of Multiple Sclerosis….

      3. “We need to teach more people about the true history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.”

        Because if there’s one thing that’s been lacking in the US for the last decade, it’s “why do they hate us?” breast-beating. Oderint, dum metuant.

        1. No, I said the TRUE history. What the left promotes is biased too far on the opposite side. What I propose is ballance. They are peddling anti-Americanism. What I support is more ballanced. We should not be self-flagelating either. Each person is only responsible for his or her own actions. None-the-less, don’t you think it is good to know WHY they are doing what they are doing?

          1. Eduction and ballance. Complemented by controlling our ‘self-flagelating’ instincts.

            And things are more true when they’re capitalized.

            Sigh.

            Osama’s death doesn’t change anything apparently.

    2. That’s pretty close to how I feel, as well.

  3. So the jihadi warriors may again have their day and they will but ultimately a society moves towards liberty.

    The Arab ratiocination won’t fade as quickly as it did it other freedom-seeking people but we have seen the coruscation.

  4. “Tahrir Square is a profound anti-jihadi lesson, and its significance has spread around the world.”

    This is the latest MSM meme. How about you check back in five years and see how that democracy movement has evolved. You may just find yourself pining for the halcyon days of an American friendly Arab dictator.

    1. Yes, I don’t think democracy will be the golden solution to solve their societal problems. In the end, it can only lead to frustration and disappointment, and what then?

    2. Yeah and as for peaceful, only if you weren’t a woman.

  5. Every day is opposite day.

    1. I’m Squidward, I’m Squidward, I’m Squidward, Squidward, Squidward

  6. It sounds to me as if he was being protected by the Pakistanis….

    That hardly seems likely; the Pakistanis are our allies. Right?

    1. And our enemy. They are quite versatile that way.

    2. My initial thoughts were about what a tough bind this puts the Pakistan government in. Since they can’t admit that they allowed US troops to attack in the center of Pakistan, they have to disavow knowledge and condemn the violation of their sovereignty.

      But this leaves them in an even weaker position. Somehow 4 US armed forces helicopters were able to fly into the heart of the country, directly adjacent to several military bases and conduct a successful raid – within a short distance of the police station too. All without encountering any opposition from the Pakistanis.

      If I were a Pakistani citizen, I’d be wondering exactly what might happen if India decided to retaliate for that terrorist raid in Mumbai back in 2008. I guess they have the nuclear deterrent to fall back on…

    3. I think Christopher Hitchens pretty much nailed it over at Slate:

      “If you tell me that you are staying in a rather nice walled compound in Abbottabad, I can tell you in return that you are the honored guest of a military establishment that annually consumes several billion dollar of American aid. It’s the sheer blatancy of it that catches the breath.”

  7. On his “FOK News Channel” website

    Unfortunately, this does not stand for “Free of Keith.”

    1. It stands for “Full of Keith.”

      1. … was Cheney’s “secret assassination ring.”

        So Cheney was behind this…

  8. Now, let me be clear. I know that Osama bin Laden has – uh – been declared dead eight times before by various world governments. But this time he realy is dead. You see, I am the greatest leader of any nation that has ever existed anywhere on Earth.

    1. Why can’t we see his Death Certificate?

  9. Somehow 4 US armed forces helicopters were able to fly into the heart of the country, directly adjacent to several military bases and conduct a successful raid –

    Somebody should be asking Raytheon for a refund.

    1. Your confidence in the abilities of the Pakistani military betrays your ignorance.

  10. Why don’t we just assassinate everyone on the FBI wanted list? Think of the celebrations outside the White House. In truth we could have seen this coming, remember how popular the “Death Wish” series was?

    1. Why must every murder by a meat eating white where he got lucky to hit something with his little stone thrower be called an assassination. A professional assassin would have known enough to bring back the head and display it from the front gate of the White House. Sloppy sloppy amateurs.

  11. In the unlikely event a Republican is elected president in 2012, he should install Obama as his Secretary of Defense. We could nuke Switzerland and the media wouldn’t say a negative word about it.

  12. Is there any unit, technique or policy involved in the killing of OBL that Obama and the Left did not despise and try to shut down?

    1. Helicopters?

    2. You should be asking why the Right felt the need to get thousands of Americans killed for a purpose that evidently could have been achieved with some good intelligence work and no casualties.

      1. Have you read anything at all about what led to the raid? I’ve read that the nom de guerre of the courier was first learned in about 2005 (though I’ve read that it might have been earlier) but it just took a long time to figure out the real name and where he was. Good intelligence takes a long time to figure out.
        Was killing OBL the stated end point of the War on Terror? I don’t think so.

        Your thinking is so simplistic.

      2. Also, one of the key people who gave them the identity was captured in Iraq. He must have been there on vacation or something since you have told us over and over again how AQ was never involved in Iraq.

      3. You should be asking why the Right felt the need to get thousands of Americans killed for a purpose that evidently could have been achieved with some good intelligence work and no casualties.

        As if we could have ever cornered Bin Laden and pinned him down into hiding 24 hours a day in a compound in Pakistan without our extensive presence in the region.

        You’re even more stupid when it comes to military and intelligence issues than you are about economic issues.

        1. Ah, so we did have to kill 6000 American soldiers and spend trillions of dollars for this operation.

      4. And also, it was a military operation that ignored the sovereignty of a country (as far as we know).
        You make it sound as though there were a few satellite images and then Bin laden turned himself into authorities.

    3. power sauce bars (made with the goodness of apples)
      http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Power_Sauce

  13. There is part of me who believes if Obama is elected to a second term that Gitmo & The Patriot Act are history. However, the rest of me fears that Obama has “evolved” in these matters.

    The introduction of Torture ?err “Enhanced Interrogation” into the open-ended war on terror is beyond destruction and further takes America down a path of no return.

    There is a reason that we find ourselves comparing this Post-911 World to the book 1984 and that is because the parallels are beyond striking.

  14. There is part of me who believes if Obama is elected to a second term that Gitmo & The Patriot Act are history.

    1. Which part is that? The crazy part? What has Obama done that would possibly lead you to believe that?

    2. Sorry Brooks. it is apparently Kevin who is sucking the unicorn farts today.

  15. Suck it, squirrels.

  16. If anything killed the jihadist revolution it was Al Quada killing so many Muslims in Iraq. It is easy to be a hero when you are picking fights with the US and killing Jews and the infidel. But when you start killing other Muslims by the scores in particularly brutal and barbaric ways, you are not going to win many converts to the revolution. And don’t under estimate the effect of Al Jizeera. They broadcast all of the blood and gore from Iraq every day in a way that US networks didn’t. They may have done that with the inention of showing how horrible the US is. But they ended up showing how horrible Al Quada is and going a long ways towards discrediting its ideology.

    1. Al-Zarqawi dealt a pretty big blow to Al Qaeda. The higher ups like bin Laden and al-Zawahiri kept telling him to cool it with the Shiites, and to play nicer with the other insurgents, but he wouldn’t listen.

      By the time he was killed, the sectarian civil war ball was already rolling.

  17. Tahrir Square is a profound anti-jihadi lesson,

    Really? Last I heard, it had paved the way for jihadis (under the brand name “Muslim Brotherhood”) to take power in Egypt.

    I’ve been chuckling at reports, BTW, that Pakistani intelligence or security was present during the raid. Those reports never say why, or what they were doing, although we are invited to believe they were helping the Americans. I think its even odds that any ISI that happened to be in the compound were either paying a social call at the wrong time, or pulling guard duty.

    1. At some point they are going to have to learn for themselves. Unless want to do the John program of killing all radical Muslims wherever and whenever they are found, you are going to have to live with the possibility of radical muslims winning converts and occasionally winning power. If the Egyptians are dumb enough and crazy enough to think creating some theocratic hell hole and going to war with Israel is a good idea, I am not sure how we stop them. And they will learn their lesson soon enough.

  18. I think it told us a great deal about military politics in Pakistan that he was there. And I think it told us a great deal about civilian politics in Pakistan as well.

    Funny how acedemics drop lines like this, but manage to never get around to ever identifying precisely what that ‘great deal’ really is.

    1. Next they’ll throw in “problematic.”

      1. And they have to give a thoughtful furrowing of their brow while they say that. Don’t forget that.

        1. balancing….

    2. What’s funny, of course, is that it doesn’t tell us anything (much) new. Anyone with half a brain has known for quite awhile that ISI is Not Our Friend, and is In Bed With Islamist Nutters.

      But the usual suspects have to pretend this is some great revelation. To cover their own asses, I suppose.

    3. That’s in their next book they want you to buy, of course.

      1. Oops. That was in response to Gilmore.

  19. An extremist movement like Salafism/Wahhabism/Jihadism/whateverism probably isn’t sustainable over the long term. The true believers are perfectly willing to see it through to the end, but the average person gets on with their life and isn’t willing to sacrifice for years on end and risk their life for the sake of establishing a new caliphate.

    It’s also worth noting that the heartland of jihadism seems to be in Muslim expat communities in western Europe, not in the Middle East itself.

  20. Okay, where is the body? Where are the videos and pictures?
    Why the rush to get rid of the body?
    By Obama’s own criteria of burial in 24 hours, they still had 12 to ten hours left, so what is the rush?
    Why give Bin Laden a proper muslim burial when he didn’t deserve it?
    Why bury the body in a place where it is impossible exhume ever?

    This is an utter crock of bullshit. Bin Laden was killed 9 years ago. Obama staged this to divert attention from his incompetence.
    I can’t believe so many people are swallowing this hook, line and sinker.

    1. Actually, Obama was told to stage this fake attack by his overlords, Queen Elizabeth and the Rothschilds.

      1. I ask pertinent questions and you respond with nonsense.
        Typical liberal schmuck.

        1. and all the video and audio recordings he did since 2001 were ALSO faked… in advance! right?? …. makes PERFECT SENSE.

          It’s definitely the Joos and the Space Vampires orchestrating this one.

        2. and all the video and audio recordings he did since 2001 were ALSO faked… in advance! right?? …. makes PERFECT SENSE.

          It’s definitely the Joos and the Space Vampires orchestrating this one.

          1. …no… REVERSE VAMPIRES!!!

            http://www.break.com/userconte…..le-1961302

            ‘We’re through the looking glass here people’.

        3. You obviously confuse pertinent questions and raving paranoia. They are different, you know.

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