Though a key aspect of the al-Qaeda statement released earlier today was confirmation of the death of Osama bin Laden, its actual goal was to threaten revenge attacks. A number of other militant factions, even those traditionally at odds with al-Qaeda, saw the death as a chance to threaten revenge strikes of their own.
The Taliban was also quick to issue a statement promising that bin Laden’s death would not change their policy at all. Though bin Laden was in Afghanistan as a guest of the Taliban government before the US invasion, the two factions have been seen as operating mostly independently in recent years, with the Taliban more concerned about reclaiming Afghanistan from the NATO-backed Karzai government.
Police across the West are on high alert over the prospect of a high profile revenge attack. Officials say they have no specific evidence of that, but there is growing “chatter” being collected by surveillance networks about massive numbers of small-scale attacks.
With officials exultant over having slain bin Laden, the sense is that retaliation is virtually inevitable. Likewise, those officials insist that the killing is not a major change to the disastrous policies of ever-escalating war, but rather a vindication of them. It seems whether the retaliation is major or not, little will change beyond the rhetoric.
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