Bin Laden was just a part of Al-Qaeda which is just a part of the Islamic terrorist effort which is just a part of the Islamist movement, so the announcement of his death today by the U.S. government makes little operational difference. The war on terror has not fundamentally changed, much less been won.
But because bin Laden symbolized Islamic terror, his taunting presence via video and audio recordings for nearly ten years after 9/11 energized his allies and frustrated his enemies. Conversely, his execution by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan gives Americans pride in their country, encourages the security and intelligence organizations, and is a body blow to Islamists.
What to watch for ahead:
- On the American side, will the sudden unanimity and pride last for more than a few days? Or will the Left's usual reluctance snap right back?
- Concerning the Islamists, how severe will the reaction be to the Zardari government acquiescing to American forces killing bin Laden on Pakistani soil? And how much will Americans and American interests abroad and at home be subject to terrorist attacks in response be to the execution of the jihad's symbolic leader?