The US now wants to bury the rest of Al Qaeda
President Barack Obama, whose presidency has been instantly and spectacularly rejuvenated, will visit Ground Zero in Manhattan tomorrow and provide the next major rallying point for Americans to consider life after Osama.
Despite scenes of intense celebration, the reality is that gatherings outside the White House, Times Square and Ground Zero have been quite small.
The shock of the announcement saw people rushing out to the streets late at night to join with their fellow Americans, but the lack of any large screens for people to focus on, or any organised speakers, meant the gatherings burned out quickly and people went home.
Even so, the joy was real. New Yorkers and Americans at large were particularly gratified that vengeance was theirs, not someone elses.
There was also a sense of satisfaction in the swift finality of the Bin Laden killing: no drawn-out trial, no chance for him to gather sympathy in some secret CIA jail. It was not bloodlust; it was relief.
President Obama’s visit to Ground Zero is likely to be the biggest event in the US since his stunning late Sunday night announcement that America had killed Bin Laden.
President Obama plans to meet privately at Ground Zero with families of those who were killed on September 11, though it is not known yet whether he will address the public.
New Yorkers, who have so far only seen their President give his somber Sunday night address, will be looking to show their gratitude to both him and their military for the surgical and almost faultless strike against the hated and pathologically cold terror leader.
And President Obama, if he’s any sort of politician, will be looking to maximise the benefit to himself in the aftermath of the Osama killing. He can, after all, claim direct responsibility for an event he personally oversaw as Commander-in-Chief.
But New Yorkers will, as well, be looking once again to the skies and watching their fellow subway travellers more closely as ever, with the full expectation that Al Qaeda, one of its affiliates or some opportunistic attention-seeker will use the Pakistan victory to try and once again break American spirits with a terror strike.
Americans were asked to maintain vigilance and extra police were visible in areas of high human traffic.
More noticeable than scenes of wild jubilation and gloating in New York was a sense of deeper reflection. Even at the Ground Zero celebrations, where young men tried to lead the crowd in chants, it was apparent that most of the people preferred to bow their heads and consider the almost 3000 who died on that day.
Americans know they are hated across the most of the Muslim world, and that the enemy is now firmly embedded within their own shores, most assuredly waiting to strike again.
And they have also come to understand, very quickly, that taking out Osama does not mean their boys are coming come any time soon.
If that is so, then what was achieved in the Abbottabad raid?
President Obama’s Homeland Security Adviser, John Brennan, put it this way: “I think the accomplishment that very brave personnel from the United States government were able to realise yesterday is a defining moment in the war against al Qaeda, the war on terrorism, by decapitating the head of the snake known as al Qaeda.
“It is going to have, I think, very important reverberations throughout the area, on the al Qaeda network in that area.
“This is something that we’ve been after for 15 years, goes back before 9/11. So I think what were doing now is going to try to take advantage of this opportunity that we have to demonstrate to the Pakistani people, to the people in the area that al Qaeda is something in the past. And were hoping to bury the rest of al Qaeda along with Bin Laden.
The last remark is key. The realisation is sinking in, and it is not a pleasant one: America is fighting in Afghanistan, but it was Pakistan that shielded Bin Laden. And it has probably done so from the time he fled the Tora Bora caves in late 2001.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…