Thursday, September 15, 2011

5/1 does a 9/11 on Osama

5/1 does a 9/11 on Osama
Ajit Doval | Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The death of Osama bin Laden is a watershed point in the Islamist terrorist movement that has affected the world the last decade and a half. Events can take several directions based on what happens on the ground in the months to come.
Al Qaeda had ceased to be a terrorist organisation before bin Laden’s death. For radical Muslim groups and Islamist outfits it served more as an inspirational and ideological guide. It was basically a rallying point for anti-Western Islamic feeling.
As a consequence, many groups started coming close and forming networks of allegiance to one another. These groups will no doubt start operating in their respective areas to hit at Western or other international targets. For instance, the Lashkar-e-Toiba may hit in India, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines or Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia.
Retaliation will no doubt now take place against multiple Western targets and Pakistani targets. There is also the possibility that other groups which are not yet terrorist groups but are localised radical Muslim groups, may take up retaliatory terrorist action. The next few months are a time for security agencies around the world to be on the alert for acts of vengeance for the Osama bin Laden killing. Again, these may be undertaken by affiliates, and not by al Qaeda itself.
Secondly, there is a vacuum left by Osama bin Laden that could either be filled by Arab or Egyptian leaders, or by Afghan or Pakistani leaders. If the leadership moves to Arab or Egyptians, then Iraq, Palestine and other such issues will continue to be at the top of their agenda. If it moves to Afghans or Pakistanis, however, then besides the fact that it will have direct implications for India it will also make their movement more violent, more strategic and more tactical.
Arab leaders, like Osama bin Laden, are more long-term, more strategic in their thinking. The Arabs would be more interested in getting a Weapon of Mass Destruction, whereas the Afghans or Pakistanis would be more interested in an attack like the one in London on July 7, 2005. A leader like Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the men India wants for 26/11, could move up in the al Qaeda core group, and then India would have to be much more vigilant.
Thirdly, Islamabad is now at a crossroads. Osama being killed deep inside their country means that despite their denials over the past decade, he was inside Pakistan; now Pakistan stands exposed. Its credibility in the international community is at stake.
This is a watershed moment for Islamabad, for it to realise that this is the end of the story for its policy on terrorists; it could decide to follow global counter-terrorism efforts without differentiating between different leaders of different terrorist groups.
If it does so, it may be able to stabilize itself internally. If not, then the world will have to take a more active role with regard to Pakistan’s policy. Globally, the Americans already had plans for leaving Afghanistan by 2014, and were looking for ways to wind down Operation Enduring Freedom. Now they’ve got a justification for leaving. But this will bank heavily on Pakistan’s policy; the Americans will seek to outsource their counter-terrorism to Pakistan.
That can lead to either of two things: either Pakistan will take it on in earnest, or Pakistan will use the US money and resources for their local concerns, primarily against India. Even if the US tries to remote control an outsourced counter-terrorism, it may do real damage to India.
So India’s policy should be to use its political and diplomatic clout to persuade Pakistan to give up terrorism, and show it that continuing its policy of support for some terrorist groups will not be worthwhile. Pakistan should also be made to realize that with the convergence of global terror groups, there will be a reaction to Osama’s killing, and that within Pakistan, violence levels are bound to go up unless it takes the fight against terrorism in all sincerity.

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