By Hamid Mir
Osama bin Laden is history now but Al-Qaeda is still determined to make some new history. US officials have rightly claimed many times that Al Qaeda has become weaker after the death of Osama bin Laden but they cannot deny the fact that bin Ladenism is still a source of inspiration for the militants fighting from Afghanistan to Yemen and from Iraq to Palestine. Dead Osama is as dangerous as living Osama.
The Obama administration has foiled at least 8 terrorist plots on the US soil since the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. President Obama can take credit of bin Laden’s death but he is not aware that actually bin Laden got the death of his own choice. It was his old dream not to be captured by enemy but to be killed by enemy and no burial in any grave.
Osama bin Laden always prayed to become a martyr like his old friend Shafiq-al Madni. I heard the name of Shafiq from bin Laden first in 1997. I was the first Pakistani journalist to meet Osama bin Laden in March 1997 and I was the last journalist to interview him seven weeks after 9/11. I started writing his biography in 1998 and once I asked him about the people who impressed him a lot and created big impact on his life. Osama said that he was lucky to have brave friends like Shafiq-al Madni who always loved martyrdom.
Shafiq from Madina was a very good player of soccer but he joined the Jihad against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden. He remained on the frontline during the battle of Jalalabad in 1989.
Shafiq al-Madni always wanted a unique and different kind of martyrdom. Once he told him: “oh my Sheikh Osama, please pray that when I become a martyr the stomach of birds and animals should become my grave, I don’t want to be buried in ground; I want that on the day of judgment birds and animals should tell the Allah Almighty that the body of Shafiq al-Madni was torn into pieces by the enemies of Islam because he was fighting in the name of Allah”.
Osama said that Shafiq al Madni was very good in destroying Russian tanks with his RPGs. One day Shafiq and two other Arab fighters were trapped by the Russians in the battle for Jalalabad. The three men tried to escape but they were surrounded from all sides. Shafiq was senior to the other two.
He decided to provide them fire cover and ordered them to escape. He destroyed the tank coming from the front but became target of another tank gunfire from his left. His body was torn tosmall pieces. His dream came true.
He was killed on enemy territory and his dead body was not available. He was not buried in a grave. The stomach of birds and animals became his ultimate grave.
Osama bin Laden said: “Allah Almighty fulfilled the dream of Shafiq al-Madni, he became a martyr and I pray to Allah that I should also become a martyr like Shafiq al-Madni who never wanted to be buried in the ground”.
Osama was so much impressed with Shafiq al-Madni that he purchased a speedboat and docked it at the bin Laden marina at the Jeddah harbour. He named it after Shafiq al-Madni.
The engine of the boat was removed and replaced with a more powerful one. This “Shafiq al-Madni boat” was the first step towards Al Qaeda men’s training in operations in the seas. Osama loved sea a lot. He read many books of Syed Qutab while fishing in the Red Sea.
He had never imagined that the US Marines would bury him in the sea and he will not be buried in the any grave like his friend Shafiq al-Madni. The Obama administration never provided a grave to Al Qaeda but it certainly gave a martyr to Al Qaeda.
The Pakistani authorities have demolished bin Laden’s house in Abbotabad where he was killed on May 2, 2011 but Al Qaeda is not demolished.
The Obama administration fears that maybe Dr. Ayman al Zawahri is still present on the Pakistani soil but there is lack of cooperation between Pakistan and US against Al Qaeda after the Abbottabad operation and attack on Salala check post.
Pakistan never gave CIA full access to interrogate Osama bin Laden’s family. The big family was handed over to the Saudi authorities a few days back. Pakistanis were careful because they feared a serious backlash from Al Qaeda.
They knew many Al Qaeda leaders were hiding quietly in big cities like Karachi and they can become a big danger anytime. Why Pakistanis are not ready to underestimate Al Qaeda? They know that Al Qaeda operators started moving from Karachi to Afghanistan after the attack on Mehran base in Karachi last year.
These operators helped Afghan Taliban launch attacks on the NATO forces in a more organised manner. They also advised Taliban not to listen to Pakistan for starting a dialogue with the US. Most of them are not active militants but they have become terror consultants.
Incidents like the desecration of Holy Quran in Afghanistan and the detention of a Pakistani woman Afia Saddiqui in a US prison are enough for Al Qaeda terror consultants to exploit the religious sentiments of the Muslim youth.
The Obama administration must tell the world what actually motivated young American Muslims like Sami Osmakac and Amine El Khalafi to organise terror attacks in US. Both were arrested in January and February this year in the US. They never visited Pakistan or Afghanistan, they never met any Al Qaeda leader in their whole life but even then they developed hatred against US. Sami was caught because he was trying to find out the Al Qaeda flag on web before hitting the targets.
If some boys living in the US can develop hatred against America then what about those boys who live in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who see the occupation forces with their own eyes and who participate in the burials of those innocent children and woman killed in US drone attacks? It is this pressure from these angry young boys, which stopped the senior Taliban leadership from opening formal negotiations with Washington.
The US prevented more than 50 terror attacks on its soil since 9/11 but Afghanistan and Pakistan are not America. These two countries are the biggest victims of US war against terrorism since 9/11 and are still unsafe even after the death of Osama bin Laden. One can differ with the ideology of Al Qaeda but the fact is that his ideology still exists and is getting stronger because of the US policies. The combination of flawed US policies and dangerous Al Qaeda ideology creates angry boys who want to become martyrs like Shafiq al-Madni and Osama bin Laden.
Obama can throw the dead body of Osama bin Laden in the deep sea but he cannot drown the ideology of Al Qaeda in the sea. If the US and its allies want to prevent Al Qaeda attacks in future they must throw out their bad policies in the sea.
The least they should do is punish the US soldiers responsible for the burning of Holy Quran in Bagram; punish the soldier who killed many innocent people in Kandhar and punish the officers who organised attack on Salala check-post. Don’t protect them, or you will be fulfilling the dreams of Osama bin Laden.