So the witch is finally dead. Which is nice. Presumably our forces – and the Americans can now withdraw from Afghanistan, the mission now being complete. They won’t? Really? Why ever not? (Rhetorical question, no need to reply).
It would be nice to think that we will no longer be regaled by the news of dark plots and darker deeds committed by this worldwide network called al-Qaeda. Given that no such thing ever existed.
What we do know about Bin Laden is that he had some followers who did, indeed, carry out attacks. That this was a worldwide organisation run by a sinister puppet master is and always was absurd. The reality is that dotted around the globe odd little groups of radical Jihadists banded together to carry out an attack and managed on occasion to spectacularly cock it up. ETA or the IRA these incompetents were not.
During 2001, Bin Laden’s mob managed to pull off one very devastating attack, with a couple of atrocities since then, attributed to this organisation and they’ve been living off the notoriety ever since. In general, what we have is a loose collection of independent cells that operate autonomously with Bin Laden taking the credit. I have no doubt that he was happy to take the credit, but the suggestion repeated by politicians and journalists that he was some sort of Moriarty figure pulling the strings form his hideout in Pakistan was always stretching credibility.
Will those who profit from the constant state of paranoia step back? Will we finally see an end to the fiction that was al-Qaeda. I have a horrible feeling that despite the organisation’s decapitation, we won’t. Someone else will have to step into the breach of the world’s most wanted man. The politicians need a bogeyman – so someone will have to fill the void. The fiction that there is a worldwide Muslim conspiracy to bomb us all into submission will have to continue. The War on Terror will go on. The show must always go on. al-Qaeda is far too convenient to die with its founding father, even if it was all a fiction.