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.