This morning I woke up with the announcement of your death. After a whole decade of chase, you had finally been caught somewhere in Pakistan in an operation whose specific details are still unknown. The reactions couldn´t have been more unanimous. I´ve heard, watched and read American citizens and European leaders cheer for a new world seemingly much safer world than that of yesterday.
You bear the burden of the deaths of thousands of people not only in ‘unfaithful’ Western metropolis, like NY, Madrid or London, but also in your own particular ‘homeland’: 85 percent of all victims caused by al-Qa’ida are Muslims. You are possibly the worst among the worst. Nevertheless, I must say that I am not happy for your death.
I cannot be happy when your death is announced the week after the release of confidential documents that reconfirm (one more time) that US officials have systematically tortured individuals in Guantánamo bay. After a dark decade of radical regression in human rights, the most powerful country in the world (ever!) has finally been able to get rid of an individual (as powerful as you) in a third world country. I wonder if a different intelligence, one based on proper research and not on violence and unbearable pain, would have made better progress, perhaps even shortening the waiting time. Anything shorter than a whole decade would have been highly appreciated.
When I hear about your death I cannot avoid thinking about CIA’s secret flights over Europe, about the lack of accountability, about the way in which this Machiavellism has dangerously shaped the geopolitics in Middle East… This is not only about ideas and principles. It is about people with names and faces. It is about individuals like Helena Moreno, a lady I met a couple of days ago, who has looked for her husband since 2005, when he was kidnapped by US forces. His whereabouts are still unknown and the Government of Spain is conspicuously reluctant to force the US Government to explain what they’ve done with Ms. Moreno’s husband.
I am not happy, Mr. bin Laden, because you should have been detained and prosecuted. We live in a world ruled by International law, a corpus juris that developed particularly after Hitler’s death, the greatest bastard of the 20th century. He probably sounds familiar to you. We learned the lesson from that destroying war and adopted certain rules to protect rights and liberties in order to make a less uncomfortable home out of this planet. Mr. bin Laden, you should have reminded us what we committed ourselves to six decades ago, and more importantly why we did so. Mr. bin Laden, you should have been detained and brought to justice for crimes against humanity. That would have granted us the chance to discover the truth and provide justice and reparation for victims and for the humanity as a whole.
It is premature to expect the end of al-Qa’ida or the end of the time of ‘war on terror’. It is difficult to guess the prospects of peace and stability in the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. Too many things remain unclear, some of which you could have clarified, maybe, had you not been shot and buried at sea at some US soldiers’ wish. The threat of terrorism is too serious, dangerous and harmful to be left entirely up to a single country’s foreign policy and a few policy makers’ will. So many people seem extremely happy today for your capture. However, these last years of regression in liberties and rights don´t let me enjoy this day. The fruit of a rotten tree is necessarily rotten.
Photo: Bin Laden in 1998 (Reuters)