Gulf News Editorial : His message was of anger and hatred - May 3, 2011

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The grim viciousness of Al Qaida's vision of the world is in direct contrast to the powerful human hope driving the protesters marching in so many Arab countries this spring. The protesters are seeking change in order to build something new, while Osama Bin Laden was seeking destruction but offering nothing in its place.
Bin Laden's message claimed to be Muslim, but unlike Islam's true message, he offered his followers nothing other than hatred and anger. His fury at his enemies was his entire message, and it did not include positive values or political answers to his followers' problems.
The Arab youth in Tahrir Square and on the streets of Tunisia, Syria and Yemen have done the exact opposite by seeking a way forward, based on a fundamental trust in the huge potential of the human spirit.
The important success scored by American forces with their Pakistani allies in killing Bin Laden should be welcomed by all nations who have been fighting terrorism.
Finding Bin Laden would have been much better five years ago when he had a more dominant role in Al Qaida, but it is still a notable victory. The United States is to be congratulated on this success, which could only have happened with vital cooperation from Pakistan.
We do not know the full details of how this intelligence coup was achieved, and we do not know what the Americans and Pakistanis are not telling us. We should expect this. They are in the middle of a major operation, and there is no doubt that they have gathered more intelligence than they have shared with the news media.
It is important that they share what they have done as soon as possible, partly so as to avoid the bizarre rumours flying around yesterday that Bin Laden was not killed; and partly because transparency has to be second nature to any government engaging with its people, particularly in the fight against terror.
The fight goes on
But killing Bin Laden is still only one step in the fight against vacuous hatred that is Bin Laden's doctrine. He had over 20 years to build a substantial international organisation, which is all the more dangerous as it is a loose alliance of like-minded people in many countries, ready to help and cooperate whenever needed, but without one central control.
This makes Al Qaida very hard to eliminate, so the fight now needs to go on as strongly as ever, seeking to root out these dangerous terrorists and expose them to their followers for the sham that they are.
Bin Laden's death means that Al Qaida has lost its founder and leader, and it is possible that this will cause the organisation to wither away. But the authorities worldwide should not assume that just because Bin Laden is dead, his ideas or his organisation will fade from the scene.
His organisation will survive this moment, and we should all assume that it will continue with great effect. It would be a disaster to personalise the struggle against terror to such an extent that Osama Bin Laden is thought to be the same as Al Qaida, even if such personalisation gives everyone very good headlines and allows the authorities to claim a significant victory.
Victory in the mind
The fight against Al Qaida will go on with the security forces continuing their role, but the building of a confident civil society is just as important in defeating the terrorists, and certainly more effective in the long term. This is why it is so important that Arab states come together to support the nations going through fundamental rebuilding, like Egypt and Tunisia.
The IMF and Gulf states building a reconstruction fund for these nations are fighting Al Qaida as much as the security forces are doing.
Ensuring that the school curriculums are offering intelligent self-learning pupils the best in the world and encouraging them to question and seek answers for themselves is working against terrorism as much as the armed forces are doing around the world.
The true defeat of Al Qaida will be when all its followers deem it empty and without hope; when all its foot soldiers seek rehabilitation and reject their awe of the master terrorists.
The final victory against Al Qaida will be won in the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide, who will find renewed hope in their essential humanity, as defined by the eternal virtues of Islam.

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