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Osama bin Laden dead: Mission Actually accomplished

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden dead: Mission accomplished

Monday, May 2, 2011

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Mazhar Ali Khan / AP

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No matter how many top-level al Qaeda operatives were captured or killed, the counterattack against the terrorists who murdered nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, was incomplete as long as Osama bin Laden was alive and taunting this nation in his periodic taped rants.

On Sunday night, the welcome news came that bin Laden had been killed, nearly a decade after this nation’s sense of invincibility – and, indeed, its way of life – was forever altered by the plot that turned hijacked jetliners into deadly weapons against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

His death at the hands of a U.S. operation was a moment for celebration. Gone is bin Laden’s own aura of invincibility.

President Obama announced that a “small team of Americans” carried out the operation in a compound “deep within Pakistan,” engaging in a firefight, killing bin Laden and taking his body into custody. It was with great relief that we learned that no members of the American team were harmed in this operation.

No one should be under the illusion that the threat of terrorism will go away with the death of bin Laden. Al Qaeda has splintered into various groups and countries in recent years, and there still will be jihadists determined to do us harm. But his death leaves no doubt that they cannot do so with impunity.

The fact that bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, and not in a remote cave along a remote and lawless border region, raises sensitive questions about U.S. relations with an ostensible ally.

Obama emphasized Sunday night that the targeting of bin Laden was this nation’s No. 1 intelligence priority. It was the right mission, and, finally and gratefully, it was accomplished without any further loss of U.S. life.

This article appeared on page A – 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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