On June 4, a missile fired from a pilotless U.S. drone reportedly killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, said to be al-Qaida’s second-in-command, in a remote region of Pakistan. Just over a year earlier, U.S. special forces stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and shot him dead. In September 2011, a U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American radical Islamic cleric who had become an al-Qaida regional commander. Numerous other al-Qaida leaders have been killed in U.S. attacks in recent years. The Obama administration has made such decapitation attacks a central element in the U.S. struggle against al-Qaida and similar militant organizations. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’
Some hawks have cited the skillful military operation that killed Osama Bin Laden as proof that terrorism must be dealt with by hard power, not soft power. But such conclusions are mistaken. A smart strategy against terrorism also requires a large measure of soft power.
Terrorists have long understood that they can never hope to compete head on with a major government in terms of hard power. Instead, they use violence to create drama and narrative that gives them the soft power of attraction. Terrorists rarely overthrow a government. Instead, they try to follow the insights of jujitsu to leverage the strength of a powerful government against itself. Terrorist actions are designed to outrage and provoke over-reactions by the strong. Read more
The Power & Policy Fellows Forum
By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Osama bin Laden’s death is a victory as well as vindication over the terror and pain that his actions had spawned over the years. Al Qaeda has been dealt a significant blow. People of all walks of life, age and creed will remember this moment of justice rendered.
At the same time, finding that bin Laden had been hiding in the heartland of Pakistan and living in a fortified house within the vicinity of a prime Pakistani military academy raises serious questions. This comes after a long list of other security concerns that have befallen the country, including high-level assassinations, terrorist acts, and nuclear proliferation activities. It also revives uncertainties on the extent to which the government is in full and effective control the country. Such lingering concerns are neither good for Pakistan nor for the region. With the immense challenges and complexities facing Pakistan, its leadership and stability are both vitally important. Read more
The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum
By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
We must remain especially vigilant over the next weeks and months. There is likely to be a global spike in terrorist threats as al-Qaeda digs deep in increasingly desperate attempts to avenge their leader’s death and reestablish their relevance on the world stage.
Of most concern, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the presumptive new leader of the group, may try to make good on his 2008 promise to mount a mass casualty attack on US soil. Al-Qaeda’s ability to do so will depend on what concrete plans, if any, that they already have in motion; the group’s capacity is likely to continue diminishing over time. Read more