Wednesday, May 4, 2011


There is some good stuff percolating out there on the impact of Bin Laden. Make sure you read past the CNN and MSNBC and FOX commentary to the opinions of folks that make this their life's work. Here's sampling:

Rebecca Zimmerman has a great post on Small Wars Journal from which I borrowed the title of this entry:
But as I examine the reasons much of America is celebrating I cannot find justification for such brash, self-congratulatory cheer. And I am not alone, those friends of mine who have shouldered the greatest burdens of the last decade are somber and qualified in their reactions. 
To view Osama bin Laden as the gravitational center of global Islamist terrorism is to see the world as it was a decade ago. Terrorism and (mercifully) counterterrorism have evolved profoundly since then.

And Andrew Exum at Abu Muqawama notes the evolution of Abbottabad from Desert One:

Second, the reason we have some of these special operations capabilities -- specifically, the special missions units, the aviation unit, the headquarters element, and all the units that have not yet made the news and will not -- and the reason they work together so well is because you are witnessing the late stages of an evolutionary process that began in a cold desert base in Iran some three decades ago. You cannot understand why the U.S. military was able to execute this extraordinary operation deep in the heart of Pakistan without first understanding the failures of Iran in 1980. I've got Tim Harford's new book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure on my desk right now, and I'm thinking Tim should add our special operations forces as a case study in time for the paperback. 
Marc Ambinder and Jeremy Scahill, meanwhile, have primers on the organization and units behind the operations that I can't really comment on, but I will say that whenever people ask me to explain the task force, I don't say a word and simply point them here. (you gotta check out this link)

Finally, to keep some perspective, the Voice of America has this recap of AQ leadership:
Osama bin Laden, Saudi. Al-Qaida founder.
Abu Laith al-Libi, Libyan. Al-Qaida operative.
Omar al-Farouq, Kuwaiti. Al-Qaida operations chief for Southeast Asia.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian. Al-Qaida in Iraq leader.

Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Yemeni. 9/11 planner.
Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Libyan. Senior al-Qaida operative.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Kuwaiti. Suspected 9/11 mastermind.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Saudi. Al-Qaida operations chief in the Gulf region.
Abu Zubaydah, Palestinian. One of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Egyptian. Age - 59.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, Egyptian. Age - late 40s.
Saif al-Adel, Egyptian. Age about 50.
Anwar al-Awlaki, US/Yemeni citizen. 40 years old.
Adam Yahiye Gadahn. American convert to Islam. Age 32.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Kuwaiti.
Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie, Saudi. Age 45.
Anas al-Liby (also known as Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Raghie), Libyan. Age late 40s.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Comoros Islands national. Age late 30s.
Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, Yemeni. Age 36.

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