“We can declare victory, call it over, and go home.” So says a former US Marine that was among the first boots on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan this week by the CIA. The ten-year long war on terror began because of bin Laden’s 9/11 operation, but it will not necessarily end because of his death. It will, however, complicate the U.S.’s justifications for its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Less than a day after bin Laden’s death, religious and political figures across the Arab world were calling for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, including the official spokesman for Egypt’s influential Muslim Brotherhood. The hunt for the 9/11 mastermind has come to an end, and many see bin Laden’s death as sufficient and final retribution.
Iraqi’s welcomed the news of bin Laden’s death, but this assumed victory could be the cause for a bloody backlash in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s presence has been truncated by counter-terrorism operations; two of Al Qaeda’s most prominent leaders in Iraq were killed one year ago. But many expect that remaining members of Al Qaeda in Iraq will seek revenge on behalf of bin Laden’s death.
“We have issued orders to intensify security measures in the street…we 100 percent expect attacks.” – Major-General Hassan al-Baidhani of the Baghdad operations command
Al Qaeda did not make inroads into Iraq until the 2003 U.S. invasion. The group managed to drive a wedge between the Sunnis and Shi’ites of Iraq, resulting in thousands of deaths and acts of terror. In light of bin Laden’s death, many Iraqis feel that the man who perverted the meaning of their religion has met a justifiable fate.
Upon news of bin Laden’s death, one 68 year old Iraqi farmer said, “In my life, I have never seen a criminal like this person who took the religion of Islam to serve his own purpose.”