Late on Sunday evening the world was informed by President Barack Obama that United States Special Forces had engaged Bin Laden in Pakistan and killed the terrorist leader of al Qaeda. It turns out Bin Laden was living in a specially built mansion north of Islamabad. It was a mansion roughly eight times larger than any other home in the area, surrounded by 12 to 18-foot walls. It had no Internet or telephone service and no windows facing the road. The home had been under surveillance for months, and once it was determined that the inhabitant fit Bin Laden's profile, plans were made to attack. The President gave the order to proceed on Friday after holding several meetings in March.
Bin Laden's death "momentous"
True to the information age in which we live, it turns out a local Pakistani live-Tweeted the helicopter attack on the home. Sohab Athar, an IT consultant, knew something was up when he saw the attack and came to realize it was not part of the Pakistan military. His "live reporting" gained him thousands of new followers in a matter of minutes.
Former President George W. Bush, who launched the War on Terror after the 9/11 attacks that made Bin Laden a household name, called the event a "momentous achievement." Bin Laden's death came eight years to the day after Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. In his statement, Bush said, "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
What next for the Middle East?
Bin Laden's death comes at a critical moment throughout the Middle East. U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Iraq later this year. Many speculate whether the Iraqi government and military can hold the country together against the competing pressures of sectarian violence and regional ambitions of neighboring Iran. Unrest in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are yet to determine the future shape of these nations.
Egypt has seen the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. New elections in September could create a more Islamist centered government. The military supported government has just recently moved to form closer ties with Iran, something not seen in recent decades under the Mubarak regime.
With Libya still in civil war and the fate of Muammar Gaddafi in question, that corner of the Arab neighborhood continues to keep NATO and the West intensely focused. The entire region is in turmoil with unstable governments, shifting alliances and foreign troop occupation. Now with the death of Bin Laden, many wonder what impact it will have on the Arab mood—especially the hardcore terrorist network.
The Middle East continues to be the focus of the world. Not since the end of World War I, when the current map of the region was created, have we seen such a time of change in this region. More change will come, and it appears a new map of alliances and relationships will emerge. Our booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy fills in much of background and details of what to expect in the final round.
One final note of irony: The announcement of Bin Laden's death comes on the same day the death of Adolph Hitler was announced in Berlin. Can we not take some hope in divine justice from this fact?