Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Terrorism after Osama bin Laden

You knew a blog post about bin Laden was coming, if you know me.

Ding, dong, the beast is gone.Terrorism isn't.

Our Seals and the CIA may have taken out the titular leader of Al Qaida, but they didn't take out Al Qaida itself. Networks work differently than hierarchical organizations. It's probably been years since Bin Laden actually planned any activities. We know he planned 9/11, the bombing of several US embassies, and the bombing of the US Cole. He has so many cells around the world it's naive to think taking out the figurehead would take out the network.

It won't.

I see warnings coming from what the Seals did on May 1. First, you can hide, but we will get you. Somewhere, somehow, we will get you. We won't bring you to trial; we will take you out. As George W.Bush said, bin Ladin was "wanted dead or alive." Our team executed a near-perfect mission. They went in, found their man, killed him and brought out his body for confirmation. It was also fitting the Seals and the US Navy buried his body at sea. There will be no martyr memorials where people can trek and pledge further jihad.

Second, we have to be on alert for the next set of attacks. They will come. Too many jihadists and others who hate the United States will continue trying to destroy us. This war on terror has no borders, no fixed battlefields, no end in sight. We can fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the war on terror will be fought anywhere a jihadist or hater of the United States can get his hands on bomb-making materials. We see the small guys all over the place getting arrested and shut down. We see the small guys targeting malls, train stations, large gatherings of people. That's why they call it terrorism. The battle is fought in the shadows, not in the glare of media spotlights. It's fought by children wearing suicide vests, by cowards who strap explosives to women with disabilities, by men on motor scooters who have no problem taking as many lives as possible, dying in the attack.

Another warning. If you are a jihadist or are making headlines promoting violence against the United States and its people, we know who you are, and we will get you. You have targets on your back. We have the stomach to take you out. No warnings. No telling the local government we are coming in. We don't want you warned. We want you dead or neutralized. Make that dead.

There's no room for negotiation here. We don't want to talk about your future. You don't have one. We don't want to offer you life in prison without the possibility of parole. We don't even want you in SuperMax where you will never, ever see sunlight again. We don't want you in Gitmo, outside scrutiny and barely covered by the rule of law. WE. DON'T. WANT. YOU.

You started this war. We will end it.