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The U.S. Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Bin Laden was the founder and head of Al-Qaeda, an Islamist militant group. The Navy SEAL Team raided Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, which was built in 2006 (Bowden, 2012). The killing of the Al-Qaeda leader, who was among the terrorists in the U.S.’ most-wanted list, sparked mixed reactions globally. In particular, Osama’s death had considerable impact, as well as implications, on the prospects of Al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and other Islamist militant groups (Rogers & McGoldrick, 2011).
The death of the Al-Qaeda chief was undoubtedly a major blow to the Al-Qaeda fraternity worldwide. Apparently, the group is still reeling from the major blow following the demise of its core architect. The group has yet to find someone with outstanding charisma and allure of Osama’s caliber to succeed him (Kitfield, 2012). Since the killing of Osama, the organization has been lacking the initially exclusive top control, with only Ayman al-Zawahiri emerging as the possible favorite. Ayman was Osama’s deputy since the early 1990s in an acting capacity. However, he lacked the charisma, which was an incomparable attribute of the late Osama (Kitfield, 2012). Osama had a remarkable personality that attracted many young men in the Arabic world. Even the West and South Asia were passionate about bin Laden and felt inspired when the fallen leader was at the helm of Al-Qaeda leadership.
Moreover, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have faced myriad challenges in terms of safety and leadership since the death of bin Laden. For instance, leadership rows have become a widespread setback within Al-Qaeda’s ranks, in addition to controversial arrests and killing of some of its leaders (Musharbash, 2012). Furthermore, the newly fangled jihadist hubs, which have emerged near the Afghan border and North Pakistan after the death of Osama, pose a huge danger to international security and safety (Musharbash, 2012). The Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen, has emerged to be the fresh Al-Qaeda hotspots as armed Islamists take advantage of political turmoil to engage the country’s defense forces in battles for several months. In addition, Islamist rebel groups such as Al-Shabab (in Somalia) and Boko Haram (in Nigeria) have persistently pushed their way into the limelight to become the most dreaded terrorist organizations since the death of Osama bin Laden. Boko Haram has been on the spot for imposing Sharia Law in the multiethnic country of Nigeria and allegedly killing hundreds of Christians in the country (Seib, 2008). On several occasions, Al-Shabab admitted responsibility for massive bomb attacks in Somalia and neighboring African nations.
The death of Osama bin Laden has ultimately revealed the fresh scheme and leadership approach of Al-Qaeda that perhaps operates off its goal instead of following distinctive guidance (Lüsted, 2012). Incidentally, bin Laden had evolved from a mere leader of Al-Qaeda operations into a symbolic personality as far as Islamic international terrorism is concerned. Therefore, it would be a decisive test for Al-Qaeda to replace him. In effect, any instability in Al-Qaeda’s leadership would be an added advantage to the U.S. and NATO towards realizing their vision to secure the Afghan populace and overwhelming the Taliban (Lüsted, 2012).
In conclusion, the death of Osama bin laden has resulted in a leadership dilemma in Al-Qaeda and Islamist terrorist groups worldwide. Although Al-Qaeda is still focused on the process of expanding the association base and recruiting universally accepted leadership, the biggest challenge remains the leader’s aptitude to exude confidence and charisma, which was typical of bin Laden.
Kitfield, J. (2012, April). The Atlantic: How the killing of Bin Laden has crippled Al-Qaeda. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/how-the-killing-of-bin-laden-has-crippled-al-qaeda/256505/
Musharbash, Y. (2012, May). Impact of Bin Laden death: The monster lives on. Retrieved from http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/impact-of-bin-laden-death-the-monster-lives-on-a-760195.html
Bowden, M. (2012). The finish: The killing of Osama Bin Laden. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press.
Lüsted, M. A. (2012). The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Edina, MN: ABDO Pub.
Seib, P. M. (2008). The Al Jazeera effect: How the new global media are reshaping world politics. Washington, DC: Potomac Books.
Rogers, A., & McGoldrick, D. (2011). III. Assassination and targeted killing–The killing of Osama bin Laden. The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 60(3), 778-788.
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