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Supporters of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shout anti-American slogans, after the news of his death, during a rally in Quetta

Today marked the second anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden – instigator and mastermind of the 9-11 attacks in the United States in 2001.  Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaida hijackers crashed two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon, just outside Washington.  A fourth plane went down in rural Pennsylvania after passengers struggled with the hijackers.

On May 2 2011, U.S. forces, having tracked down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, killed him in a special operation. At the time, President Barack Obama decided not to release death photos of the al-Qaida leader, saying the graphic images would create a national security risk and could incite violence.

Today, debate continues on whether Osama bin Laden’s name and legacy are capable of exerting as much influence as his persona did when he was still alive. Murtaza Haider, an associate dean at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada,  believes bin Laden is more dangerous dead than he was when still alive. Haider elaborates on his theory in a recent blog post entitled  “Osama Bin Laden: More fatal in death.” VOA’s Susan Yackee spoke to Haider about his conclusions.

Below please find transcribed excerpts of the interview. You can listen to it in full using the audio player at the bottom of this post.

Murtaza Haider

Haider: The point I’m trying to make is that at the time of [Osama bin Laden's] death, it was conveyed that the world would be a safer place after his death.  And the point I’m making is that his death is irrelevant to what is going on in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen, for that matter.  He had become irrelevant not only to the militant movement, but more importantly to the people in these regions.  And therefore, after his death one could see that the militancy took off in Pakistan—not as a result of his death, but in spite of his death.  And that’s the point I’m trying to make.  By having him eliminated, we did not make at least Pakistan and Afghanistan a safer place.

Yackee:  Why is that?  Everybody thought it was going to make such a big difference.

Haider:  Well, I think nobody thought [this].  There was a Pew Research Center study done in 25 countries, including the United States, and interestingly, fewer than nine percent of Americans thought there would be a decline in violence now that Osama bin Laden was killed.  So I think policy makers, those who were political leaders, were of the view that this would result in a peaceful world, as if Osama were controlling the movement.

“I think, in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, what we are doing wrong is the continued American and NATO presence.” – Murtaza Haider

But I think the masses – even in the United States, let alone in Pakistan- felt that Osama or anyone had any control over this militancy.  It has become more atomized.  It has become more retail, where bands of militants have grouped together and then they see him – in his death or in his life as their leader. But is has no practical implications. They go around doing their work without any central command and control system.

Yackee:  Why do you think this militancy has expanded? Are we doing something wrong?

Haider:  Globally there are several reasons.  I think, in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, what we are doing wrong is the continued American and NATO presence.  As soon as we have the NATO troops withdrawn and as soon as we have the Afghani and Pakistani forces to control the security situation, I for one think there will be a decline – not an elimination, but a decline – in militancy because the very presence of our NATO forces provides the impetus and the soft support among non-militants for militancy in  these regions.

So the very first thing we have to do is to ensure that NATO and other foreign agents, services, militias and armies are withdrawn from these regions because that is being used as the primary rallying cry for militancy in these regions.

Listen to Susan Yackee’s full interview with Murtaza Haider:

Susan Yackee

Susan Yackee is anchor of VOA's International Edition radio show. She has been a reporter in the Washington area for more than 35 years and regularly interviews newsmakers and analysts in DC and around the world. Susan works in television, radio and social media.

1 Comment

  1. Umair Khan

    May 3, 2013

    ya galat ha.


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