Nine days after al-Qaida terrorists attacked the United States, then-U.S. president George W. Bush addressed a special session of Congress and made a solemn promise to his people.

“Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution,” Bush said on Sept. 20, 2001, “Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”

His administration devised policies to make the country safe from any such future terrorist attacks, and to defeat the enemy that had declared war on America.

It was those policies that helped track Osama bin Laden into his Pakistani hideout, and bring justice to the man who unleashed the beast of terror in the name of Islam against the U.S. and her allies and friends around the world.

In these times of rampant political opportunism and fickle memory, it needs to be said without equivocation that the much-maligned Bush — America’s 43rd president — was vindicated when U.S. President Barack Obama stepped forth in the late hours of Sunday night to announce that bin Laden had been found and swiftly dispatched to the underworld.

Bin Laden presumptively took upon himself the mantle of a holy warrior. Inherited wealth eased the claim, and the circumstances of his involvement on the margins of the Afghan war against Soviet occupation during the 1980s lent him an aura of a freedom fighter.

In the fall of 1996, bin Laden declared war against the U.S. as the head of a modern crusader alliance against Islam and Muslims. In a lengthy epistle, he pulled together the grievances of the Muslim world against the West as justification of the jihad he proclaimed.

Thereafter, the network of al-Qaida terrorists, which bin Laden helped organize as the emir (leader) based in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, took the war against America’s interests and assets found in Africa and the Middle East. On 9/11 this war arrived on America’s shore.

Bush, again from Sept. 20, 2001, said “al-Qaida is to terror what the Mafia is to crime.” As al-Qaida’s emir, bin Laden became the public face of the evil of Islamist terrorism.

The Muslim world is not a monolith with an uncontested centre of religious and political authority, nor Islam provided with one authoritative interpretation fixed for all time.

But there is in the hearts of Muslims an acute sense of something awfully wrong with their recent history, and from this comes an irresistible yearning for justice. Yet missing in this is an understanding that the crippled state of the Muslim world is an effect of the nature of Muslim politics and culture being dysfunctional in the modern world.

Bin Laden perversely, yet brilliantly, exploited Muslim grievances in launching his jihad to drive the U.S. from the Middle East. He precipitated an indiscriminate war of terror to deepen the sense of Muslim victimhood and, because of him, Muslims fell in greater numbers as casualties of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

Bin Laden’s remains might well have fed the fishes, but the evil he conjured lives after him and, like a beast, stalks civilization.

If Muslims are ever to repair their world successfully, they need to proceed by repudiating everything Osama bin Laden represented.

 

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