Back in 2004, when I was starting an almost two year stint as a weekday resident of Bristol, “Dubya” Bush was running for a second term. One of our team had convinced himself that Bush had Osama bin Laden in custody, and that, at a moment calculated to yield maximum electoral advantage, the al-Qaeda leader would be unveiled to a rapturous public.
What was galling to everyone else on that team was the bet that was offered, and none of us took up: that would have been easy money, as the idea that the US could have taken bin Laden alive (and without the news getting out) was so far out in left field that not even the recently departed Sunday Sport would have run with it.
And so when the US finally did locate the man they used and then discarded, and who turned many others against the West, that there was a shoot-out ending in bin Laden’s death was not a surprise. Not for him the humiliation of rendition, being paraded before the public, and incarceration in Guantánamo. No chains and orange jump suit for Osama.
So bin Laden is gone: his body has already been buried in accordance with Islamic requirements. What of the fall-out from this event? Security is apparently being stepped up around Government buildings and those who govern, not only in the USA but here in the UK, and around Europe. But what retaliation might come from al-Qaeda?
This, after all, is the franchise that brought us the long-planned and highly co-ordinated “spectacular”, beginning with their declaration of war on the USA on September 11, 2001, and continuing with the March 2004 Madrid bombings, then later coming to London on July 7, 2005. All of these would have been many months in preparation.So it would be out of character – and maybe beyond the imagination of al-Qaeda – to mount a revenge attack. But that attack may yet come, and that there might be another already in the pipeline is a possibility. So, although celebration is understandable, especially in the USA, the security measures we all have to endure on a daily basis will continue.