In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Ernesto “Che” Guevera and Osama bin Laden. Two men who lived by the gun–and died by it. Who inspired widespread admiration among their supporters and fear among their enemies.

Both men targeted the United States as their chief adversary. Guevera sought to destroy its power to fight Communism. Bin Laden sought to destroy its power to intervene in the Middle East.

Guevera’s most optimistic hope was that Americans would eventually see the error of their capitalistic ways and convert to Communism. His last words were: “Tell Fidel that he will soon see a triumphant revolution in America.”

But he was prepared to fight to the death–as indeed he did–to force revolutionary change upon the United States.

Bin Laden’s most optimistic hope that Christian and Jewish Americans would eventually convert to Islam. But if that didn’t happen, he, too, was prepared to attack Americans anywhere and in any way he could–as his private diary and documents have revealed.

Having described, in a previous column, how Ernesto “Che” Guevera met his end, it is time to compare this with how bin Laden earned his 72 willing virgins.

On April 29, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama authorized a U.S. military raid, dubbed “Operation Neptune Spear.”   On May 1, two teams of 12 U.S. Navy SEALs, working with the CIA, stormed bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The SEALS traveled in two helicopters specially outfitted to emit little noise. But an accident resulted when the tail rotor of one helicipter grazed the compound’s wall. The damaged aircraft was “hard-landed” and then destroyed on-site to protect technology secrets.

Back-up forces were immediately available, and another helicopter was brought in to retrieve the commandos and relevant contents. All combined, a total of 79 commandos and a dog (believed to have explosive-detection training) were involved in the raid.

Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden’s courier, opened fire on the SEALs from the guesthouse with an AK-47 assault rifle where he and his wife were killed in the returned fire. A male relative of the courier was shot and killed by the SEALs before he could reach a weapon lying nearby

Bin Laden’s 22-year-old son rushed towards the SEALs on the staircase of the main house, and was also shot and killed. Bin Laden, standing at the top of a staircase, retreated into his room–where he was followed by SEALS and shot in his head and chest.

There were two weapons near him, including an AK-47 assault rifle and a Russian-made 9 millimeter semi-automatic Makarov pistol. But, according to his wife, Amal, he was shot before he could reach his AK-47.

A SEAL on the scene announced coded news of bin Laden’s death: “Geronimo E-KIA” (enemy – killed in action).

The entire raid, including intelligence sweeps of the compound, was completed in less than 40 minutes. The SEALS moved fast because they feared–rightly–that the Pakistani army would intervene to protect bin Laden.

Within 24 hours of his death, bin Laden’s body was transported to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for final rites and burial at sea. President Obama and other U.S. officials feared that his gravesite could become become a memorial site for members of Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrArabist organizations.

In the late evening of May 1, 2011, President Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed in the operation. He added that U.S. forces “took care to avoid civilian casualties.”

The attack was carried out without the knowledge of the Pakistani government–a wise move, considering that bin Laden had been living undisturbed at a large compound for at least five years, just a short distance from the Pakistani version of West Point.

Just as Fidel Castro and other Communist leaders eulogized the dead Che, so, too, leaders of Islamic expansionist groups rallied to praise the dead bin Laden.

Among these was his son, Omar, who denounced his father’s killing as a “criminal” act, and his burial at sea as demeaning to the Islamic faith.

In a letter published on the website of Islamist ideologue Abu Walid al-Masri, the younger bin Laden said the former Al Qaeda leader’s children reserved the right to take legal action in the United States and internationally to “determine the true fate of our vanished father.”

The letter further noted:  “We hold the American President Obama legally responsible to clarify the fate of our father, Osama bin Laden, for it is unacceptable, humanely and religiously, to dispose of a person with such importance and status among his people, by throwing his body into the sea in that way, which demeans and humiliates his family and his supporters and which challenges religious provisions and feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims.”

Bin Laden’s death attracted protests from hundreds of people in the city of Quetta, in southwestern Pakistan, who burned American flags and paid homage to the late terrArabist leader.

On May 13, a pair of Taliban suicide bombers attacked paramilitary police recruits eagerly heading home for a break after months of training, killing 80 people.  It was the first act of retaliation for the killing of bin Laden.

Others–especially Americans–reacted differently.  Almost as Obama was addressing the nation, cheering crowds gathered outside the White House and in New York City’s Times Square.  Celebration also broke out at the site of the former World Trade Center, the victim of the September 11 attacks.

For the next two weeks, Americans continued to rejoice.  Much of their feelings were best expressed in grisly humor on websites and late night comedy shows such as “Tonight” and “Late Night With  David Letterman.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department issued a “worldwide caution” for Americans, and U.S diplomatic facilities everywhere were placed on high alert.

It remains to be seen whether, decades from now, bin Laden will retain the iconic status of Ernesto “Che” Guevera.

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