We Killed Bin Laden, but He Won His War

Take a close look at the videos of Osama Bin Laden wielding a K-47. The 12 lb. weapon is heavy in his hands, the image of a big but frail man, suffering from kidney failure, some sources say, not at all the guerilla warrior who, ever on the move, scaled mountains and lived in caves, as Al Qaeda propagandists, following his directions, portrayed him. The only hiding place for a man in his condition was a fixed facility with basic material comforts and ready access to medical assistance. And being the wily man the he was, the location he chose for his hideout was next door to Pakistan’s elite military academy and a short driving distance from the nation’s capital, a place too conspicuous to arouse suspicion (a ruse reminiscent of Poe’s detective story, “The Purloined Letter”). When our Navy Seals stormed the hideout, it was unlikely that the frail Bin Laden would put up much a fight. He knew he was marked for killing from the start, and was ready for martyrdom.

So, why then, was he so valuable to Al Qaeda? He did found Al Qaeda when he was a young and hale fighter against the Soviets in Afghanistan 25 years ago. But why didn’t he, for the good of his organization, later cede power to an equally zealous but physically more imposing leader? Because the organization needed his financing genius. Not only could he raise more than enough funds to support terrorist cells throughout the world, but, most important, he had learned how to bankrupt a military superior enemy into defeat. When leading the volunteer Afghan Arabs, later re-organized by him as Al Qaeda, foreigners who had come to Afghanistan to fight on the side of the native Mujahideen rebelling against the Soviet puppet government in the 1980’s, Bin Laden saw the cost-benefit of frequent, well- orchestrated hit-and-run attacks. For every thousand rubles spent on an attack, he reckoned, the retaliation would cost the Soviets millions. After nine unrelenting years of such attacks, the Soviets finally went bankrupt and were forced to quit the war. Bin Laden was said to boast later that it was he, not Ronald Reagan, who caused the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Fast forward to 9/11 and its aftermath and it is obvious that the tactic devised by Osama Bin Laden to defeat the mighty Soviets is being employed today against America, and will continue to be employed by his Al Qaeda disciples after his death. Do the math. The few millions spent by Al Qaeda on its 9/11 attack, on its suicide bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan Pakistan, on the failed Christmas Day, Times Square, and Shoe Bombers at home, is a miniscule sum compared to the trillions squandered by America on her open-ended wars against an elusive enemy, on bribes to corrupt fair-weather allies, on ever-growing and over-lapping security agencies, not to mention the incalculable costs to our economy and loss of prestige abroad. Tallying up the costs on both sides it is clear that we have thus far been on the losing side, big time. Whether the 2008 economic meltdown in America was caused by Bin Laden, as some of his admirers claim, is debatable. But that he played a significant part in it is undisputable. We finally killed him, yes, but in the end he won his war.

For an eye-opening book of the subject we refer you to Hunting bin Laden: How al-Qaeda is Winning the War on Terror , by Rob Schultheis.

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