Politics and policy

Osama death leaves world with tough questions on terror

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Anti-terrorist activists hail president Obama during a demonstration in New Delhi on May 3, 2011 to celebrate killing of Osama bin Laden. The world is now debating what the death means for terrorism. Photo/AFP

Anti-terrorist activists hail president Obama during a demonstration in New Delhi on May 3, 2011 to celebrate killing of Osama bin Laden. The world is now debating what the death means for terrorism. Photo/AFP 

By NG’ANG’A MBUGUA

Posted  Wednesday, May 4  2011 at  00:00

Osama is dead. But the questions that the world will be asking is: Will he die in peace or will his followers target American businesses and installations across the globe in retaliatory attacks?

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Is the death of the terror mastermind necessarily going to lead to safer travel and tourism or will it lead to heightened security alerts and more thorough screening?

Kenyans have never forgotten that in 1998, al Qaeda terrorists, who were targeting the American embassy in Nairobi, killed over 250 Kenyans — and 12 Americans — in what remains the country’s worst terror attack.

While taking responsibility for the devastation that scarred Nairobi and brought the city to its knees, Osama, at the time, justified the killing of the Kenyans by claiming that in his war against the US and its allies, “there were no innocent bystanders.”

In 2002, the al Qaeda was at it again, this time bombing the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kikambala.

During the attack, 15 people were killed and 80 others were injured.

The same day, another group of terrorists unsuccessfully tried to shoot down an Israeli passenger carrier as it flew out of the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Since then, al Qaeda has been attacking various installations targeting America and its allies.

The worst of this was the September 11, 2001 attack on US soil when hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

In the first attack, more than 3,500 people were killed, sparking American anger and prompting the then US president George W. Bush to vow he would hunt down and smoke out Osama.

President Bush left office without accomplishing this mission despite a spirited campaign by the American military to hunt down Osama in the harsh terrain of the now famous Torabora mountains on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan where Osama was believed to have been hiding in caves.

At the time, there were also claims that he was ill and some reports that he could have died.

However, from time to time, Osama’s men would release tapes online, warning America that it was still in his sites and threatening to unleash more terror.

In turn, the US allied public anxiety by questioning the authenticity of the tapes.

During the 2008 presidential campaigns in the US, senator Barack Obama — who was later to become the Democratic candidate and eventual winner of the election — had long drawn out and heated debates with his main challenger Republican John McCain, over who would make a better commander-in-chief of the US military.

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