[Note to Readers]
I do not aim to offend in this blog. I have many American friends who I cherish dearly. I’m against terrorism, categorically but I feel I need to voice my observations of the recent events. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, I’m merely discussing how I see things have played out. I will never condone what Ben Laden has done or what he and his followers stand for. Extremism is dangerous and closed minded but ignorance is not productive either. We have free speech, and agree or not, hear me out and see things from others points of view. I’m no expert but I have opinions.
Thanks for reading.
Early hours, UK time, on Monday, 2ND May 2011, it was announced by President Obama of the United States that the leader of Al Qaida , Osama Ben Laden had been captured and killed by a special team of US Navy seals.
The world has seemingly been split over this announcement. His followers, naturally angry and seeking vengeance, some, like myself wanting answers before I make judgement on the situation, and for others optimism and even celebration of the world’s most wanted fugitive who lead the terror attacks against the Western World culminating in September Eleventh.
Before I go into what I want to explore here. I want to make a few things about myself very clear first as I know this article may seem anti-american to some.
first of all, I am not an American. But I have seen terrorism by other organisations in the UK and have grown up hearing about terrorist attacks all of my life with incidents by the IRA and the Spanish group ETA.
secondly, I was in america, attending an American university, on the first anniversary of September Eleventh and attended a memorial service for two former students who died in the attacks. I was touched and moved by this experience and couldn’t understand how others could hurt innocent people in such atrocious ways and how other humans can hold such hate for those with different beliefs.
Thirdly, I watched all the events of that day unfold on TV. It was surreal. Still is now if I see footage. I could not conceive, hardly can now, almost ten years on that something of that magnitude could happen in the world in which I lived. I was about to go off to university the week later, and the fear that rolled through me was horrendous! I was devastated for those victims and their families and for the world as a whole, the world I would never see the same way again.
Fourthly, I believe every human being has animalistic rights, I.E. food, water, sleep, etc. Human rights are more complex, right for equality, right to free speech, and so on. I also believe that if you take away someone’s human rights then, you in turn have given up your own rights. There is a huge difference in my head between human rights and animalistic rights. I also believe, if you have wronged you should ultimately be punished and the worse the crime, the harsher the punishment. We’ve become to free with handing out new identities to criminals in fear of vigil anti groups. Good, let them come. Why should we uphold human rights for those who have stripped others of theirs.
And finally. What Ben Laden has done to Western people is horrendous and he’s a disgusting being. I can’t even title him with human because there seemed nothing human about him. All those who have perished and suffered because of his organisation and its acts were innocent human beings who deserved more and their families absolutely deserve justice.
Now to what happened, as we’ve been told.
I first must point out that since Monday I think the white house have changed the story at least twice with varying other accounts circulating the media realm. And although I do not believe everything I read, i do not discount everything I read either. [Even after my first draft of this article, more contradictory evidence has come to light].
The original story that came out on CNN from Obama’s live address was that Ben Laden had been found at a compound in Pakistan along with members of his family and was “engaged in a forty minute fire fight” which indicates to most people, that the Navy Seals were being shot at by Ben Laden and co. They later retracted this and said Ben Laden was unarmed but resisting capture while others engaged with shooting. [I'll get to my thoughts in a minute].
They also said he was using women as human shields to which they later said his wife jumped at the US forces and was then shot in the leg where in their first story she had been killed.
The level of Ben Laden’s lifestyle had initially been reported to be extravagant and they valued the compound in which he was living at one million dollars to which they compared to the living conditions of many of his followers. This later was changed to a value of $250000, and pictures from inside the compound do not in any way reflect luxury. [Today, Pakistani officials revealed that it is likely, having been told by his wife that they had lived in the room in which they were found for the past five years]. Obviously, we cannot substantiate this claim. But the conditions were pretty poor.
It was also stated in Monday’s release that the president, his vice president and Hilary Clinton watched the live events unfold which on Tuesday was changed to, “for about twenty minutes, we didn’t know what had happened”.
OK, anyone who has seen either of these live press conferences will note the differences in “facts”. And while I grant them that some information, I.E. the identities of some of the dead or captured individuals may not have been ascertained, some other pieces of information would not have got lost in translation. The main two points for me are how long and how much of the “live” footage did the president and his pals watch. And secondly, either he was armed or he wasn’t. A “fire fight” would convey to anyone that both sides are fighting with arms. I do not doubt he “resisted capture”, most criminals do.
These things have not been fabricated by the press. They were spoken by a white house official and the president’s spokesman at that along with the head of the CIA. And as I said, some things may have been unclear at the first press conference but not all. The value of the compound for one thing. If they had been monitoring it for almost two years, as some have reported, then surely they would know from local records the value. And please do not get me wrong, I’m not defending Ben Laden here, I’m merely pointing out discrepancies and questionable actions by the US officials, but suggesting he was living better than he was, and to actually compare his living conditions as they originally portrayed them to be better than his followers is like listening to a petulant teenager twisting facts to piss off friends of someone if that person has wronged them. I do not expect, despite the horrific things he has done, for government officials to play childish tricks like that. I’m not concerned with upsetting his followers but it looks bad on them and with other things that have occurred questions their integrity. These are meant to be our leaders, the ones we pay taxes to in order for them to run our countries, provide plans of protection and in return for our taxes and votes, honesty, integrity and working with a professional attitude on the world stage should be automatic.
The next thing that didn’t feel right to me is the timeline of the whole thing. I am not a military expert or pretend to be, I am a mere mortal who wonders about things. From several sources, originally, from point of entry, the whole thing took forty minutes. OK, I can realistically conclude the fighting and such may have been under ten, even five minutes long. So they shoot him, swab him or however they took the dNA and photographed the whole thing. Then they got onto the old communications systems and were like, “so yeah, you want Ben Laden’s body to keep?” to a few different governments to which none did and then they gave him a Muslim send off and dumped him into the ocean. Oh, and before that happened, they’d left Pakistan, took off in the helicopter, and left the other burning and landed in Afghanistan and took him to a hanger and then dumped him after his traditional ceremony in the sea. Then they called the boss, told them all about their adventures, got the DNA test back and returned to base. All that in forty minutes? It does seem though that the forty minutes timeline comes from the fighting which was again refuted by Pakistani officials saying only one man was armed and was shot upon entry. So no fire fight without an opposite team to fight with, right? The speediness, regardless of the actual time though is still alarming. No information was given to the Pakistani military, which I’ll go into more detail later, and they flew in, landed, did the operation and collected evidence, set alight to a chopper that was damaged and then called the Pakistani military to collect the survivors. A defence minister from Pakistan said today that at the moment they realised foreign aircraft was in their airspace, they deployed fighter jets but they didn’t get to the compound before the US Navy Seals left. So either, Pakistan are trying to cover their own asses for a lack of knowledge of foreign aircraft in their airspace or the US were that fast or, yes, there’s another option. A former aviator said they looked as though they’d been modified, and not like the traditional Black Hawks, more like the F117 Stealth Fighter The pictures of the jet left behind, it looked as though some adaptations had been done to the jet to bounce radar and quieten the propellors. Whichever version, the timeline is heavily in question.
Putting aside some naivities from both the US president and defence crew and the British prime minister who have said between them that it is a relief, a success and the troops can start coming home soon are statements I roll my eyes at. Cameron was responsible for the “relief” comment. Typical bloody Tory, isn’t scared of anything while he’s in his nuclear proof shelter. Thankfully his foreign secretary and defence minister are slightly more realistic on this front and have practically informed the British public, who haven’t ignored the news all week because of the local elections, that a terror attack is imminent. Thanks for that, Wil and Liam, but I can’t complain, at least you’re not living on Cloud cracking up land.
To Mr Obama and his crew who said they’d succeeded and the troops are coming home. Erm, really? Successful? OK, sure, wonder if you’ll be saying that if, God forbid another attack should happen. I truly hope not but the war in terror is not over, just because you captured a leader who hasn’t been doing very much leading in the past ten years has commanders, and devout followers. This is not over, you just lit the taper for the fireworks to start. And successful? You caught the leader of the Taliban, after over nine years of war, billions of dollars, thousands of lives lost and you consider capturing one man who’s been, by all accounts locked away in a room in Pakistan, next door to the army camp where your soldiers train Pakistani soldiers, a success? I don’t call it a success. Until we change the minds of these extremists, prove, [although this is going to be mere impossible now, was pretty damn difficult before but a million times worse now], to them that we are not what they think we are, the success element of this war has not been achieved. Or maybe, for the government it has. But that’s another conspiracy theory which I won’t detail here.
So to conclude that our leaders are actually morons or they think the general public believes that claptrap has little bearing on other things we still must discuss.
There are a few factors that closely relate here and I must be careful how I word some of my forth coming paragraphs. I am not accusing or assuming, just saying things how I see them from the things we have been told.
Ben Laden was “apparently” resisting capture, [no shock there, the guy’s been on the run for ten years, sitting under the military’s noses, both Pakistani and American alike and they shoot him in the head and stomach. There are varying versions of this story, the American one and the one from Ben Laden’s daughter. I wasn’t there, so only the ones in the room know what happened. But they admitted to shooting him in the head and chest, despite being unarmed yet resisting arrest. The change of story could, at a push be a confusion in translation but the incident happened on Sunday night US time, or there abouts, the first press conference was held on Monday where details of this so called “fire fight” was given and then Tuesday the story had changed to him being unarmed. Surely the first question asked or detail given, how did he die?
I’ve done a little public relations during my time and I know one thing for sure, talking to the press, it is imperative you give the correct information the first time around to the best of your knowledge. One minute, people had seen it all, OBama reportedly “watched Ben Laden killed” yet there was confusion still after a few hours of passing, with a brief undoubtedly being held prior to press? Such a huge announcement, no government in their right mind would rush that and give an not briefed report. If there was video footage, it would have been watched or should have been before anyone spoke to the press. We know there is footage, the seals wear cameras on their helmets. Hilary Clinton spoke today in Rome and said she didn’t know what they were watching when the White House photographer took the now rather famous picture. Seems everyone had a little amnesia about the TV get together all of a sudden?
This bothers me for so many reasons. I don’t give a crap if the White House make a huge public relations screw up, that’s their business and rarely should you trust anything that comes out of a politicians mouth, but what bothers me as a human being that he was shot in the head and chest and was unarmed. Some were armed, and killed as they attacked, fine, but no matter who it is, I have a problem with, dare I say it? Execution style shooting. I’ve seen enough TV and movies, read enough news paper articles and books to perceive disarm first if you can. No one is going to tell me, a man who has been confined to a specific area for a length of time, with no weapons can face off to at least one heavily armed soldier. The fact that they are refusing to release a photo of his body because the “images are too graphic” screams volumes to me.
I know many think he got what he deserved by being shot, no matter how brutally but to me death is the easiest way out. Even that side of the story, one minute it was a kill mission, the next capture where possible then, he had to be killed, he could never have been tried, etc, etc. The excuses, seem to me, keep on coming. I have a few words for you on that point of trial would have been hard, Saddam Husain.
It’s not only the apparent dodginess about the no photo, questionable timelines, contradictory tales in press conferences that bother me, and many others, but these government officials continue to harp on about human rights, democracy, the geneva convention and yet I see none of this practiced in this situation. I don’t blame anyone for hating him, he was a vile being but it seems awfully hypocritical of people on the one hand to be screaming human rights, democracy to countries like Libya and syria and Egypt and then in one mission show no regard to any of the so called principles they preach about.
Trials to prove guilt or innocence have been around for millennia and to kill someone who is not armed when you are with all kinds of technical weaponry, it feels barbaric. Europeans have come under immense attack today in blog entries because of our lack of exuberance for his death. I perceive our mood to be cautious, anxious and as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury said with several others, a man being shot dead so brutally unarmed leaves you feeling uncomfortable. I agree with them. Not because I think what he’s done is remotely OK, his actions were sick and depraved but he should have been captured. I’ve read many angry Americans talk about “innocent lives” and how those in the towers were “unarmed”, yes, I agree but by shooting him with such brutality doesn’t make that justified or right. Forget the moral side of humanity for a moment, there are far many other implications involved by shooting a man who you could easily have captured with a disarming shot rather than “blow his brains out”. But I’ll get to that.
Some people’s reactions to the announcement bothered me as much as the circumstances surrounding his death. People celebrated! They were literally dancing and jumping for joy at the news of his death. I know some argue that some Al Qaida members did the same after September eleventh and I didn’t like that either. No matter what a person has done, celebrating their death is rather tasteless, inhumane, and not at all dignified. And as I have pointed out all week, he was one man. One man who once upon a time, worked with the US government and yes, turned out to do hateful things but celebrating a death makes me look on individuals with a sense of sadness. There is far too much hate in this world, adding to it doesn’t make you the better person.
so, what would have been better? I don’t pretend to have all the answers. And to be honest, the handling of this by the White House has been a complete disaster. Conspirators have so much to go on. The mere things I’ve raised here to start with, the lack of a body, proof of images, timing politically will only fuel those fires. The accusations flying around now from the US that Pakistan officials knew Ben Laden was there and that was why they didn’t tell them about the operation.
And that is another point. Again with the hypocrisy. A camp near to the compound was where Pakistani soldiers were being trained by American troops. So that’s one thing, it was happening under their noses to. Another point is this, the US flew into Pakistani air space, raided a Pakistani citizen’s property all without consulting/informing the Pakistani government in fear of betrayal. I wonder how the US government would respond for a foreign military operation to take place without their prior knowledge? I know what would happen. Human rights, the Geneva convention and all such things would be dragged up and the Pakistanis would probably have to be disciplined by the UN or some international organisation.
To want information from a so-called Ally, and you in return refuse to share information that will happen on their territory? It seems as though its one rule for them and another for everyone else.
I don’t doubt there are corrupt individuals on the governments around the world. In countries like Pakistan, where the Taliban is supported by some, it wouldn’t surprise me. But it seems so unbelievably double standard that it makes me, as a British person rather angry.
The whole thing has more questions than answers around it. But I do not believe we have been given anywhere near an accurate account of events, nor do I believe we ever will. I cannot say in my heart I think it was handled well, especially politically. I do think he should have stood trial, disarming with a bullet to a leg/shoulder would have done it and they say he would have become the focus as a martyr. He already has. By killing him and then coming out to the public with such sketchy views and with no release of a photo, he already is a martyr. As I said earlier, Saddam was tried and he’d been a part of terrorism for a many number of years. Sure, there was no september eleventh but he was a disgusting being.
Even Hitler who was responsible for such disgusting acts was never killed by another’s hand. He didn’t stand trial either but he took his own life.
For pictures to be so graphical, more probably happened than we’ve been told. Pictures that surfaced of unknown bodies today online showed horrendous images and it really raises questions about lawful killing. A lawyer said today, it would be hard to ascertain what happened but he would have liked to see him stand trial. Another lawyer said this would pose many problems for international law. The US has said the killing was lawful under US law, but they weren’t in the US and international law would be upheld while on foreign soil. Lawful or not, it poses many awkward questions about their actions. If stealth was used they clearly meant to approach the compound quietly, granted but if radar blocking systems were used, this poses other issues.
Am I glad they caught him? I can’t say it had made any difference to me before. But now, they have, I fear severe retribution. Should he have died? In my opinion, no, death is an easy way out, how do you suffer in death? Do I think the body should have been brought back to the US? Yes, initially. May have avoided a lot of confusion. Should the photos be released? Yes, and the video tape although this will not quell the conspiratory theorists. Do you think he’s dead? I have no idea. A source, from high in the government told the Alex Jone’s show that he had been told by a general who he would name in front of a grand jury, that Ben Laden had died in 2001 from a medical condition and they kept it secret until a convenient time. Why wait so long? Because they wanted a reason to go to war and this hunt for ben Laden gave it. This and others have even suggested the US orchestrated the whole september eleventh. Do I believe that is true? I believe anything is possible but would like to think that some humanity remains in these people and that they are not the terrorists against their own people. Do I think, if this is the case and the war on terror was based on a sick fabrication, as VietNam was, is that right? No, money, time, intelligence and most of all valuable lives have been lost in this war. I hope for America’s sake, that they check their story, be honest about the events and motives, and maybe this will work out. Do you think they planned to kill him all along? yes, this I do believe. I don’t buy the graphical image crap. Husain was executed on television for goodness sake, if that wasn’t going to create a martyr out of him, nothing would. The pictures would tell a fuller story though I believe, and sorry to say it, but I think that’s why those pictures are staying hidden right now, to restrict us from some knowledge. Hey, they probably don’t trust us either, right? Not to mention the fact that it was suggested the instructions were to kill unless he wasn’t wearing any clothes as he could have concealed a suicide vest. The guy was apparently in his pyjamas. For some reason, logic tells me not even a crazy nutcase like Ben Laden would be chilling in his PJs, indicating he was planning on going to bed with a suicide vest on. He may roll over in his sleep and detonate the bugger. Not sure blowing up the place he was living would have sent such a message considering he had no idea the Navy seals were coming. I apologise for my sarcasm but being fed different stories from the official sources makes me rather annoyed. One minute, kill him, the next capture if he surrenders, and the next only don’t kill him if he’s in his bloody birthday suit? Come on guys, even those who think he got what he deserved and believe death was the best punishment, can’t you see what a circus this is? Doesn’t it concern you that whilst the officials spin more stories than Roald Dahl, high intelligent people who either still work for your government or have worked for them previously are questioning the protocol and pointing out things your government are not willing to admit.
Again, although I have dealt with the things I know through reliable resources and mentioned a few speculations, most of this is my opinion. In parts, I must sound to some as though I’m defending ben Laden or those who protect him but I just want to show that hypocrisy is writhe in our world. Human rights for the guy who killed a three year old child, new identity, new life and the same for a mother who stood by and watched her child slowly murdered over repeated abuse, both horrific people yet some think it’s OK to shoot an unarmed person in the head and chest and fly into airspace and carry out military operations without the prior knowledge to the country in which you are in.
as I opened, I said a person’s human rights are revoked if they violate another’s human rights. I do not discriminate that and do not believe ben Laden deserved to be treated well or right. But I do believe in the right to trial. And these people who “ordered” to kill him are the same people preaching human rights and democracy to the world. America’s military are in libya, and other conflicted countries fighting for human rights yet how does this look? It’s almost like they played into the Al Qaida’s hands. By killing him, they’ve created a martyr, with or without the photographs. already some are calling the sea in which he was dropped, “the Martyr’s sea”. even the Muslim funeral they claim to have given him in which they said he was treated better than any of his victims has been deemed wrong and was deemed religiously improper.
Regardless of what we think of him and the awful things he’s done. What about those who love him? Because clearly they did. Again, not saying he should have been allowed to be free but what about those who are left behind. He had children, that was their father. Regardless of his actions, regardless of their beliefs, they may hate him for all we know, but what about their rights? The adults in that compound may or may not have had a choice whether to be there or not. But there were children, young children, a two year old child. They, despite their parentage, are innocent and deserved a little humanity. They deserved the right to say goodbye, take his body, surely? If they had wanted too. Because the US killed him, did that mean they had property of his body too? With Islamic scholars it to not be a proper Islamic burial, and the burial at sea, even ordinary people question what was being covered up?
I think anyone in their right mind would have shown ben Laden nothing but contempt but if captured, if tried, then executed, many wouldn’t be writing articles like I am, or questioning the government’s actions at all. We are meant to live in a world of democracy and fairness. At least that’s what is preached on a daily basis. it’s the reason Nato has countries militaries fighting in Libya right now. How can we on one hand fight for human rights and preach about it and the Geneva convention and such, then say killing an unarmed man is justified. I understand why many of the Clergy have said they feel uncomfortable with that factor, only made worse by the wheel of stories. As Christians, they feel that seeking vengeance is a ugly matter and destroys the soul and its God’s duty to ultimately judge and punish. It seems very unchristian-like and looks more like vengeance than a form of justice.
Whatever the truth, the Americans who celebrated in the street with effigies of Ben Laden’s head with the statue of liberty will never understand why the rest of the world questions the US actions and decisions. maybe it’s merely a difference in cultures. The death penalty has been dormant for many years here now and most Europeans don’t see death as a punishment. Maybe it’s the maturity too. Europe’s history spans millennia while the US is still only half a millennia old.
Average people are questioning the so called facts. Mainstream media is questioning in ways I never expected to see in regards to Ben Laden. And this is probably why, Europe’s not dancing with joy. We know there are repercussions to come from Al Qaida, but more than that, there will be repercussions to come from this muddled mess of what I think the US hoped to be a dramatic victory. At home, maybe they have got that, worldwide the mood is quite cool and curious.
However the international world moves forward from this, however we are divided by views or beliefs, there’s one thing certain, this is the start of something huge and the pantomime to come out of the white house this week will do the US no favours internationally. They may have killed the leader but it took more than one man to commit all those terrorist acts. The world will be watching, with an anxious air.