News of the death of al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden hit me unexpectedly with the same surreal feeling as the tragic events of 9/11. More than 10 years since the initial attack on the twin towers, I watched President Obama’s address to the nation confirming bin Laden’s death as my body was emotionally overwhelmed with shock, pride for my nation and a feeling that justice had been served. His death has avenged the roughly 3,000 that perished in the assault on our country and provided some closure to the families that suffered a loss and a city who felt vulnerable after the tragedies of 9/11.
However, after the initial elation had withdrawn from my body, I was left with emptiness and harsh reality of the situation. Eliminating the leader of al-Qaeda has not and will not defeat the deep-rooted and extensive network of al-Qaeda. I believe the deceased leader will only be glorified as a martyr and will serve as a catalyst for more violence and attacks from the extremists who followed him. I think of it much like a starfish: You can sever every appendage, but it will always regenerate. America’s efforts to track and kill bin Laden have proved to be more of a trophy for bragging rights than a productive step toward eliminating terrorism. At the least, America has displayed to the world something that has been proven countless times before: Our nation holds an aggressive foreign policy with a very superior, efficient and violent military machine to achieve its objectives.
The only concluding thoughts I have pulled from bin Laden’s assassination is that our nation and leaders have been fooled into thinking we as a country can erase terrorism from the world. By the mouths of officials and the talking heads in media, terror has been put into a neatly packaged and nicely labeled entity called al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, terror is far beyond an organization of extremists and its essence transcends the realm of tangibility. Rather, it is an idea and a philosophy which will be used forever by those who sense a polarity in ideals, culture and religion. As long as homogeneity exists within the world, there will be conflict and thus terrorism.