It’s hard to imagine that it’s been nearly one year since the World’s Most Wanted Criminal was killed in a raid by U.S. Navy Seals. But it was in the early morning of May 2, 2011, when the Seals infiltrated a secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist leader of Al Qaeda, along with four others, including one of his sons, Khalid Bin Laden.
Osama Bin Laden had been on the run for the better part of 10 years after his role in the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil on the morning of September 11, 2001, resulting in nearly 3000 deaths. Less than a month later, the U.S. military entered into the War in Afghanistan, in an effort to hunt down Bin Laden and eliminate the threat of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Today, despite the death of Bin Laden, the United States military remains in Afghanistan amid a series of recent controversial incidents including the killing of 17 civilians, mostly women and children, by Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.
Two days ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that although killing Bin Laden was not a “silver bullet” that wiped out Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist group has been severely weakened. Aided with intelligence seized during the raid which included 10 hard drives and five computers, other significant Al Qaeda leaders such as the possible successor to Bin Laden, Ilyas Kashmiri have been killed since the raid in Abottabbad. Still, the threat of terrorism remains a real threat in the United States and elsewhere with pockets of militants pledged to the destruction of “infidels” speckled throughout the Middle East and even in the western world.
On the one-year anniversary of the Bin Laden raid, President Barack Obama is expected to give his first interview inside the White House’s Situation Room with reporters from NBC. Many will recall the images released to the world that showed the President and members of his administration on hand inside the Situation Room during the events of the fateful May 2nd raid of Bin Laden’s compound.
Of course the President has been criticized for what his detractors say is the politicizing of the 2011 raid, especially with the recent campaign video that portrays likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for stating in 2007 that the capture of Bin Laden was not “worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” Part of the criticism by President Obama’s detractors is due in part that his perceived chest thumping is dividing the country during a critical election year. Yet based upon what I perceive as a neutral point of view, I think it’s safe to say if it were a different president currently in office, a similar event would occur. And during President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, he too received allegations that he was politicizing the memory of 9-11.
The fact of the matter still remains, the elusive leader of Al Qaeda Osama Bin Laden is dead and many say there is a sense of closure after a hunt that lasted nearly 10 years. It’s hard to imagine there really is any true closure for any of the people connected to those who were killed not only on September 11, 2001, but also thousands of members of our American military and thousands of civilians who were killed in the conflicts of the Middle East.
Thus if we are to observe the one year anniversary of the death of Bin Laden, let us also observe the memory of all of the lives lost in this terrible part of American history, and set aside whatever philosophical differences there are, if only for a brief moment.