As we approach the tenth anniversary of the death of global terrorist, Al-Qaeda founder and 9/11 terror attack mastermind Osama bin Laden, his influence remains. The Associated Foreign Press reports bin Laden “retains the capacity to mobilize extremists even in a polarized jihadist scene that has radically changed in the last years.”
Bin Laden’s body was apparently buried in the Arabian Sea in a respectful Muslim burial directly from the deck of a US aircraft carrier. This burial was also to “avoid the creation of any pilgrimage site on land” reports the AFP. “Above all, Al-Qaeda is now a brand and a franchise rather than a coherent organization with a decision-making hub.”
However, “Bin Laden’s face still gets emblazoned on T-shirts, his name appears painted on the back of cars, and his effigy is often brandished during demonstrations.” While some jihadi circles do not follow bin Laden’s strategy, Al-Qaeda branches are still active in the Sahel, Somalia, Yemen and Syria, “but much less in the West.”
Glenn Robinson, author of “Global Jihad: A Brief History” says bin Laden’s approach in jihadist circles is controversial, most notably his decision to attack the United States. “It is still widely viewed as a significant strategic mistake. Part of the evidence for this is that very few follow this strategy anymore – and most never did.”
In the wake of bin Laden’s death, “Islamic extremism mutated…with Al-Qaeda losing its status as the world’s foremost jihadist network to the Islamic State group, which at its zenith controlled swathes of Iraq and Syria” according to the AFP.
Aaron Zelin, a researcher who runs the Jihadology website that analyzes extremist videos says of bin Laden’s death, “since he was killed before 2014 and the split between IS and AQ, he is still viewed favorably amongst the IS cadre.” Zelin added, “in some ways IS sees itself as the true successors to the Bin Laden way.”
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