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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 21, May 14, 2011

On the Killing of Osama and Beyond

Tuesday 24 May 2011


Operation Geronimo by the US forces to kill Osama bin Laden speaks much beyond a mere encounter to eliminate a wanted man. On one hand, it seems a timely vote-bank politics for the coming presidential elections in America, proving the coloured relevance of the war on terror, a clever dramaturgy of exit from Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. as the US and its allies are paying a huge price for keeping their forces inside these turbulent regions. On the other hand, American reporting and statements are simply shocking, factually incorrect and mis-interpretive of the Islamic tradition. BBC news on May 2, says: “According to the Obama Administration officials, US officials did not share information about the raid with the Government of Pakistan before the operation.” But did it notify Pakistan after its successful completion of the operation? It was not the American soil, still the US Army appeared, so freely and secretly. Even the Pakistani Army did come to know what was happening in their territory much later. Which reveals that the national security of any country has a single threat and that is from America!

Also one has witnessed the gravity of intrusion and the kind of global hegemony, direct regulation and control and absolute power to tread anywhere in South Asia without even giving notice and information to the state where the operation is on. They now enter any land, any time but like to notify later. Moreover, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, the operation was conducted entirely by the US forces. A senior US official said that no intelligence had been shared with any country, including Pakistan, ahead of the raid. Not only for the Muslim world but for any country Americans need no principles, rules and regulations to enter, they have been carrying out drone attacks for years together now in Afghanistan and killing civilians everyday there but hardly any nation dares ask them to stop from such illegitimate entry and alarming slaughter. The world, particularly the non-European part, seems to have become a toy for America, and seeing their policies, working tactics and operation mechanisms, one feels that they consider the globe as their regulated territory.

They are even brazenly misinterpreting the Islamic tradition of burial of a Muslim. News in an article titled, ‘Burials at sea against Islamic rules: scholars’, informs: “Top Muslim scholars said Islam is opposed to burials at sea like the one Osama bin Laden received on Monday after being shot dead in a US operation in Pakistan.” It branded this as a challenge to the Muslim faith as bin Laden did not die on a ship but on land. But the Economic Times reported that John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security, told reporters at the White House: “The burial of bin Laden’s remains was done in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices. It was prepared in accordance with the Islamic requirements.”

However, Saudi Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, an adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, argued: “That is not the Islamic way. The Islamic way is to bury the person in land (if he has died on land) like all other people.” This was reported by Joff Mason for the Reuters. Another aspect of this whole episode makes one wonder how a man who evoked fear in the West and anxiety around the globe can be liquidated in such a dramatic fashion, completing everything in the time-span of a few minutes. Why such a sudden encounter with a person like Osama when Americans exaggerated and politicised Sadam’s capture, state of his trials, prolonging his confinement in custody, showing to the American people and intimidating the anti-West nations indirectly, etc. This makes the whole episode appear like a drama played for the purpose of ensuring a graceful exit of troops from Afghanistan. While Sadam’s arrest was extensively reported, not even a picture of the encounter was released in the case of Osama. Writes Amy Belasco, a specialist in US Defence Policy and Budget, on March 29, 2011, in his 59 page report, ‘The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations since 9/11’: “$ 806 billion for Iraq; $ 444 billion for Afghanistan; $ 29 billion for enhanced security; and $ 6 billion are unallocated.” That is the total war funding.

BASICALLY the measurable geo-political alignment and re-arrangement especially after 9/11, has not, frankly speaking, secured the nation-states from terror threats, or bestowed them with peace but actually weakened their actual firm control on their respective territories, snatched their decision on activities to be carried out or prohibited under the banner of the war on terror, bringing into focus its central role in South Asian affairs etc. They have remained just geographically apart but ideologically, forcibly, as far as market orientation, business and arms control etc. are concerned, they lie holistically within the American political and economic domain and that of the US allies. They are bombing Libya and proudly killing the tyrant Gaddafi’s son and his small kids, who are not the ruler, and the rest of the world is subjected to silence. They are bulldozing human lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. but there is hardly a state in the whole world to resist them on such massive human rights violations and now even after the death of a human being.

IBN Live reported that Reuters was arguing in a news item titled “Concerns raised over shooting of unarmed Osama, burial” and quoting the Australian human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, saying: “It was quite clearly a violation of international law, it’s not justice. It’s a perversion of the term. Justice means taking someone to court, finding them guilty upon evidence and sentencing them.” Robertson told this to the Australian Broadcasting Corp television from London. “This man has been subject to summary execution, and what is now appearing after a good deal of disinformation from the White House is it may well have been a cold-blooded assassination.

Rhetoric apart, if Pakistan’s non-involvement in this operation is certain, then it is a dreadful situation of Pakistan’s state of sovereignty which is at crossroads. We have been witnessing a neo-colonial and military dimension creeping into the Muslim world, and more particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have literally been turned into American fortresses and base camps for action and are serving their purpose of making other nations weak, dependent, turbulent and chaotic for the US’ everlasting dominance and politico-economic hegemony

Not only did Operation Geronimo prove to be just a media hype as Geronimo means a ‘call given by paratroopers as they surge into battle’ but Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and other counter-terror operations, Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) so far have achieved nothing but resulted in a general discontent. The hollow slogan of mass security and safeguarding of human rights in these regions have invited nothing but hatred from conscious human beings.

Adfar Shah is a Doctoral Scholar of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia-Central University, New Delhi. He can be contacted at

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