How will bin Laden’s death affect the al Qaeda movement?
We asked Dr Greg Austin, from the EastWest Institute – a global think-and-do tank focused on security issues – if the terrorist group would be weakened by his killing.
James Franey, euronews:
“What next for al Qaeda after bin Laden?”
Dr Greg Austin, Vice President, EastWest Institute:
“I think that al Qaeda will retaliate for this attack. I think they will target soft targets first, ambassadors from the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They will take their time and plan a rather serious attack in the medium term, probably one to two to three years.”
“You don’t feel that the organisation has been weakened at all by bin Laden’s killing?”
Dr Greg Austin:
“The organisation has certainly been weakened by bin Laden’s killing. It’s been weakened by the pressure that the United States and its allies have put on al Qaeda and its supporters over the last 10 years. But it is still very much there. We know that al Qaeda still has active links with a number of people around the world. We know that bin Laden’s deputy is still alive and well somewhere.
“One of the problems for al Qaeda is that they will have to lock down their communications and lock down their activities. They will keep a very low profile to prevent further attacks and will look to strike within a one to two year timeframe, rather than immediately.”
“Do you think that bin Laden is more useful to the global jihadist cause, dead rather than alive? Will it galvanise their cause?”
Dr Greg Austin:
“I think it will galvanise the cause for the people around Osama bin Laden. But globally, whether he is alive or dead, it doesn’t really matter. I mean he was in a sense a landmark and a bit of a hero figure for some people, but right throughout the Muslim world, Osama bin Laden had lost credibility in the last 10 years rather than gained it. I think that terrorism has really been delegitimised for most Muslims.”
“Bin Laden was tracked down deep inside Pakistan. How will this development alter the relationship between the US and Pakistan?”
Dr Greg Austin:
“I think it’s deeply worrying in one sense that Osama bin Laden was living in the place that he was, near a military base. It really doesn’t change the character of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States. It really shows the dilemma that the relationship is in. There is a very big level of support for violent extremism inside Pakistan. The Pakistani government has very few options. It’s trying its hardest to contain the pressures. But Pakistan is a very big problem for United States diplomacy.
“The fact that Osama bin Laden was tracked down inside Pakistan is not a surprise and it doesn’t represent a fundamental turning-point, nor a reason to fundamentally reassess the relationship. Everyone who counts in the United States government totally understands the full range of opinion and sentiment inside Pakistan with regard to bin Laden and with regard to the United States. Nothing really changes. If anything it gives the United States an opportunity to put more pressure on Pakistan to improve its operations against extremists inside the country.”