Bin Laden Is Dead, But Al Qaeda Remains
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - The words so many Americans have waited to hear for nearly a decade -- Osama Bin Laden is dead -- were finally spoken on a spring night by a President still grappling with the national security crisis sparked by 9/11.
But as crowds streamed to the White House to chant "USA! USA! USA!" in ecstatic reaction to the news, experts were divided over whether bin Laden's end would weaken the terrorist movement he oversaw, or whether it had arrived too late to make a substantial difference: some suggested that al Qaeda is now so established and globally organized that it is likely to continue seeking Western targets.
"This closes a chapter but the most sobering aspect of this is that this is not the end," said Jack Cloonan, a former special agent in the FBI's bin Laden unit. "The reasons they hate us have not subsided and this could reinvigorate things."
Nearly 10 years after bin Laden directed the terrorist attack that felled New York's World Trade Center, a new Freedom Tower is rising at Ground Zero. The mastermind of the attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, awaits a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay. Despite numerous reported efforts, al Qaeda has yet to pull off another attack as deadly as the one it unleashed on Sept. 11, 2001.
And yet, say experts, the jihadists who revered bin Laden have not gone away. A Yemeni-American cleric named Anwar al-Awlaki has taken over as the spiritual director of al Qaeda, calling for attacks like the one the Christmas underwear bomber attempted over Detroit. Just last Friday, meanwhile, German police arrested three suspected members of the al Qaeda organization who officials said were preparing a test run for a terrorist attack there.
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