Death And Burial Of Osama bin Laden

Like most Americans who are old enough, I very clearly remember exactly where I was and what happened on Tuesday September 11, 2001. Until that day I had never heard of Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda. Instantly, these became household names. Thousands of people died, many more were injured, many are still today suffering from health consequences, all from a singular terrible act led by a man claiming to be carrying out the will of Allah.

And then, of course, came the wars. Thousands more are dead and wounded, including countless civilians overseas. Too many people have experienced horrors beyond what words can accurately describe. We have longed for an end to this horrible conflict for years, and there has thus far been not so much as a hint of any kind of resolution.

Today is May 7, 2011. It is nearly ten years after the attacks on New York City and Washington DC. Last weekend, on Sunday May 1, American Navy SEALs invaded bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which was ironically located embarrassingly close to a Pakistani military academy. The SEALs stormed the compound and shot bin Laden in the head, directly above the eye. I have heard reports that he used a woman as a human shield as a final defense, but these reports are conflicted and I hesitate to say any more on that particular matter.

This whole scenario seems terribly familiar in a way. US special forces storm a terrorist compound, deftly taking out terrorists while avoiding civilian casualties, executing the primary target with a single dramatic bullet to the head… in reading about all this, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve played this video game before.

And then, of course, there was the equally dramatic burial at sea. This was done in accordance with Islamic doctrine. Supposedly it is very important for a body to be laid to rest within 24 hours after death. Given this, plus the government choosing not to release the photograph taken of bin Laden that apparently portrays his fatal head wound in graphic detail, I fully expect conspiracy theorists to be drawn to this like flies to shit.

In any case, Osama bin Laden is now dead.

Here is President Obama’s announcement speech, delivered on Sunday evening:

Personally, I was initially glad to hear the news. But then, almost immediately I felt guilty for feeling as I did. I was actually delighted at the death of another person. Granted, this was a person who did monstrous things to a great many people, but it still felt wrong to me on a fundamental level that I should rejoice in hearing of someone’s death. All things in their appropriate contexts, I suppose. I was certainly not one to jump for joy in the streets as so many Americans did, but nevertheless I do recognize this event as an overall good thing for both the United States and the world.

The question now becomes, what happens next? This is by no means the end of Al-Qaeda, and given the opportunity, I fully expect them to retaliate. Still, I am hopeful. Killing bin Laden has shown the world that the US doesn’t  fuck around with these things. Obama’s administration has shown its muscle, first with taking out the Somali pirates and now the world’s public enemy #1. I see this event as not the end of America’s current conflict in the middle east, but rather the beginning of the end. It is a tremendous step in the right direction.

Cheers to President Obama and the military personnel who carried out this mission.

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