Manama/Dubai: When Al Qaida comes to mind, most people are reminded of the tragedy of 9/11 where over 5,000 Americans lost their lives. What people fail to understand, however is that Al Qaida was responsible for countless more Muslim deaths than American.
Al Qaida’s presence in Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the past 15 years.
While it is true that Osama Bin Laden’s attack on the World Trade Centre Towers in New York was viewed by some in the Arab and Muslim world, as retaliation to Western imperialism, the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims have condemned the attacks.
Al Qaida and the Middle East
Particularly in the past few years with the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and Yemen, Al Qaida has lost its relevancy in the Middle East.
“There is a new alternative to Al Qaida through democracy which we are witnessing now especially with the Arab Spring revolution,” Hussain Shobokshi, a columnist for Al Sharq Al Awsat commented on Monday.
No shockwave will sweep the Arab region following Bin Laden’s death, a Bahraini analyst said.
“Bin Laden has already lost the support he initially had,” Riyadh Fahad, a Bahraini analyst, said. “He did have some backing among some religious Sunnis in the beginning, but all that faded away after his followers carried terrorist attacks against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“His followers lost their ‘attraction power’ after they started calling Muslims who did not embrace their ideology ‘traitors’. It was unacceptable to those who were initially fascinated by the new ideology towards a world of dignity and pride before realizing it was a murderous mirage,” he said.
People also grew accustomed, over the long years, to the idea that Bin Laden would be either killed or captured, Fahad said.
“When people this morning heard the news, they were not surprised or shocked. They had anticipated this day a long time ago, so news of his death were almost a normal outcome,” he added.
“The enthusiasm or the sadness that some people had expected to envelop initial reactions were not strong at all. The outcome was predictable and feelings have been tamed by the long time that has elapsed since he was the focus of global news.”
Bin Laden on social networks
According to the analyst, many people have already forgotten about Bin Laden and the new generation is not interested in him or his organization.
“When you follow social networks, you notice there is little if any interest in Bin Laden,” he said.
For Riyadh, current developments in the Arab world are “much more important” than Al Qaida or Bin Laden.
“The political turmoil and the fast-moving developments unfolding in several Arab countries almost simultaneously have grabbed everybody’s attention, time and energy. People did not really have any compassion for Bin Laden or Al Qaida and have often rejected them.
“To them, the political and social changes in the Arab world are much more important than Al Qaida which had no role or influence in what happened in the Arab capitals,” he said.
The analysts said that he did not believe there would be violent reactions by Bin Laden sympathizers.
“Al Qaida does not have much support anywhere in the world. Whatever is left of the organization might have a reaction to the news of the killing of Bin Laden, but it will be very limited both in space and in scope.
“I believe that sympathizers might attack some US troops in Iraq or in Afghanistan, but I doubt it will go beyond that,” he said. “If nothing happens within the next seven to ten days, I believe that there will be no reaction,” he said.