Osama bin Laden might be no more but unfortunately his legacy of unbridled terrorism against self-defined “enemies” is unlikely to have the same abrupt end any time soon. In fact, as acknowledged by President Obama when he announced bin Laden’s demise, the US (and possibly its allies) can expect retaliatory strikes with a high degree of certitude.
There are some that believe Guyanese may be immune to such attacks but we should remember that in that defining event, when the hijacked aircrafts brought down the Twin Towers on 9-11-2001, twenty-five Guyanese perished in the carnage.
Almost a third of our Guyanese population may be in the greater NY metropolitan area and they are all once again at risk. Today, we should offer praise that the Americans were tenacious in their pursuit of this mass murderer and that the sons and daughters and husbands and wives and mothers and fathers of his Guyanese victims – and indeed all his victims – may now have a small measure of peace that justice has been done. But even at home we have to be vigilant – and from two perspectives.
There are those, sprung from our very bosom, who has been inspired by bin Laden in his agenda of death and destruction. One of our ex-parliamentarians has now been convicted in the US of conspiring to unleash a conflagration on JFK Airport in NY in support of bin Laden’s crazed schema. As one who had travelled more that once through JFK surely Abdul Kadir knew of the scores of Guyanese that work at that facility and would have perished if his plan had gone to fruition. But in the mind of the terrorist, especially of the bin Laden variety that embraced suicide attacks, such deaths are airily dismissed as “collateral damage”.
Then there is Adnan el Shukrijumah, of Guyanese descent who is on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list. As being effectively the “chief of operations” of Al Qaeda, he had been fingered as being behind a plot to detonate nuclear bombs in several US cities back in 2007. He was reported to have spent time in Guyana and also to be holding a Guyanese passport. In the context of the US heightened level of terrorist alertness, Guyana and Guyanese will regrettably be under the microscope once again.
But the other effect that bin Laden and his brand of terrorism has had on our country, is to have inspired home-grown imitators that launched vicious attacks on the state and innocent civilians to further their political agendas. Since 2002, the viability of our political system – always fragile to begin with – has been challenged by armed terrorists bent on changing the rules of the game. The terrorists would like to see the hard won democratic rights of the citizens of our republic absolutely destroyed so that their extreme, exclusivist plans – a la bin Laden’s – become reality.
With general elections scheduled before the end of this year, there are disturbing signs of the same upsurge of random violent crimes that presaged the post-2002 mayhem and massacres. We cannot allow those days to return to our country. Just as President Obama called upon the American people to be vigilant, so must we be. Even though in proportion to our population, we suffered much more from terrorist depredations than the US, President Obama’s words are evocative of our loss also: “The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.”
“History,” wrote Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s mentor, “does not write its lines except with blood…Glory does not build its lofty edifice except with skulls; honour and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.” With the ignominious death of bin Laden, all mankind must reject this nihilistic philosophy that has only fractured societies and split nations.
Over the millennia, we have painstakingly worked out mechanisms to settle our differences peacefully. Let us all reject the way of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist.
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