The word terror took on a new meaning with the introduction of Osama bin Laden
to the world. America’s ‘Public Enemy Number One’ may be dead, but the world he
left behind will never be the same again. This book gives us an introduction to
the man behind the terrorist attacks that shook our world, worse than an
earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale. It offers us a glimpse into bin
Laden’s family background and personal traits. The bin Laden family is one of
the most prosperous and influential business families in Saudi Arabia, despite
its world famous black sheep. It is a portion of this family wealth that
financed the religious fanatic dream of the Sheikh.
The book also introduces us to his infamous organisation, the Al Qaeda – the
name that the western world associates with the most deadly terrorist outfit of
all time, though it has a very humble meaning. It literally means ‘the base’.
The author describes the key influences of the more militant Wahhabi ideology
that led to its formation. He also studies in depth the operations that the
organisation undertook under Osama bin Laden’s leadership.
For many of us, Al Qaeda is a known name, but we are often not aware of its
composition. In this book, the author helps us understand the threat offered by
Al Qaeda. He explains the leadership, command structure, financing options and
activities of Al Qaeda. Many of the major terrorist attacks perpetuated by the
organisation and its field operatives in the last couple of decades are also
highlighted, including the game changer, the 9/11 attacks in the US. The book
includes a step wise description of the event that shook the world in 2001. The
planning and implementation of various stages of the attack on America which led
to the destruction of the Twin Towers and damage to the Pentagon is well
outlined by the author.
The aftermath of 9/11 leading to the ‘War on Terror’ is common knowledge, but
the inside story of how Osama bin Laden managed to evade NATO forces for the
next ten years makes for interesting reading. The execution of the operation
leading to the elimination of Osama bin Laden, including the movement of US Navy
Seals into the closed compound of the house in Abbottabad which hosted Osama bin
Laden and his family members, are well-documented.
Pakistan’s response to the event and its possible compliance in keeping Osama
bin Laden safe while he was on the run from the US forces is also explored. The
family drama that ensued with Osama bin Laden’s surviving family after the
attack has been brought out. Interviews of his wives have also indicated that
the ISI was well aware of where the family fled and hid during the time that US
forces chased them. This may well have been the reason why the US kept the
Pakistani forces uninformed of their final operation to take out Osama bin
The turmoil that came about within Pakistan in terms of immediate physical
repercussions and led to the murder of the bold journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad
is explored, as is the volatile situation that terrorism related activities have
caused in the country. There is no doubt that Pakistan was caught napping by the
operation launched by the United States. It is clear that the equation between
the two countries will never reach the same comfort level ever again.
The United States is definitely not as pleased with Pakistan as an ally as it
used to be, but at the same time, it cannot totally break this alliance. It will
have to continue a close, but guarded relationship with its ally. It has already
reduced the financial aid that was being doled out to Pakistan. Unfortunately,
this is not enough for India as the threat of covert terrorism and overt war
with its neighbour has in no way lessened since the incident. India’s activities
to help rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan is also unacceptable to Pakistan.
The fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2011 snapped the bonds of
power between Kabul and Islamabad. The departure of the bulk of NATO forces from
the region next year will render it highly volatile and unstable. The Taliban
will try to regain lost ground and its Pakistani supporters will do all they can
Another matter of concern for India is the growing proximity between China and
Pakistan. China is backing Pakistan with technology and political support.
Pakistan has its own agenda to recover lost ground, both domestically and
internationally. While India’s stand on terror from across the border may be
vindicated, it is still by no means safer than before. If anything, the
situation today is even more unpredictable and deadlier than before.
The futures of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India are linked very closely. Until
there is a step down in terror activities and a demolition of terrorist groups
like Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the world will not rest easy. Unfortunately,
terror groups that are fragmented across the globe still retain the ability to
strike hard and effectively against any nation on earth. India remains fated to
live with the uncertainty of volatile neighbours for a long time to come. All it
can really do is maintain a strong defensive position and repulse every attack
on its frontiers, maintains the author.