With Osama Bin Laden Dead, What’s Next?

Even with the death of the Al Qaeda leader, the war against terror is probably not over.

Posted: 05/02/2011 12:45 PM EDT
Filed Under Osama bin Laden

It is only natural that much of the world’s populace is rejoicing over the news that U.S. forces were able to finally capture and kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But once the cheering is over, one must eventually ask: What’s next?

“It’s hard to say. I think the place to begin would be to ask what are we doing differently today than we did 10 years ago and how much of that can go back to the way it used to be,” said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org. “The defense budget is double, the National Security Agency is listening to everybody’s telephone conversations, and they strip-search you before you can get on an airplane. How much of that can go back to normal and how much is permanent? Did we just win the war on terrorism or is it a forever war?”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a press conference this morning that the fight against Al Qaeda will continue and that the U.S. is more determined than ever to end their reign of terror.

“Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon Al Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process,” Clinton said at a press conference Monday morning. “History will record that bin Laden’s death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations. There is no better rebuke to Al Qaeda and its heinous ideology.”

There is, however, concern that Al Qaeda forces may try to retaliate, and as a result security measures in various parts of the world likely will be heightened. Pike believes that there may be some largely symbolic reactions among terrorist groups that could include burning American flags and scuffles at American embassies in which some people may get hurt or even killed. He does not, however, believe the group will launch a major attack, in part he says, because it is not the force it once was.

“If they were poised to launch a major attack, they would already have done so,” he said. “They wouldn’t waste a good plan by keeping it on hold to use in the event that bin Laden was killed.”

(Photo: AP Photo/Jim Collins, File)