I looked at BBC News, Sky News - nothing happening ! So I sent a couple of tweets along the lines of 'Wakey Wakey.... are you aware of what's happening?'. The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger was the first journalist in the UK to latch on to what was happening and the following piece came out at 4.00am http://is.gd/B9hFUb and eventually the BBC and Sky woke up - I even sent them tweets saying 'Wakey wakey something big is happening' ! But CNN was on the spot and on the ball ! Obama made his statement http://is.gd/Xm1AiT.
And then the news began to roll... Oh and goodness me, did it roll ? Well and truly. Experts were called into CNN, Fox News which was.. er... was er.. Fox News! I'll choose not to go there... I didn't stay there anyway ! Experts were called in and asked for their opinions. CNN showed people waving, screaming, shouting and cheering from the railings in front of the White House and the cheering and dancing continued later in Times Square and other places in the United States. Clips of 9/11 and the atrocity of the twin towers were shown... Yes, the man most wanted had been found and now no longer existed. Osama bin Laden was dead. Cameron looking a little bleary eyed, sporting a different sort of unruly hairstyle gave his response http://is.gd/tFvYLk.
In the hours that followed many comments, opinions, pictures, new and historical videos were conveyed. It all poured out very quickly and presenters were almost tripping over each other such was their zeal to be the first to break each little teeny weeny minute piece of news. Statements were made, not all matching by any means. Different accounts were given - all by no-one who was actually there but nevertheless each and every word was given as gospel... convincingly... but even so some were not accurate! A photograph of bin Laden was circulating on twitter and did so for hours before it was announced that the photograph was actually two years old ! http://is.gd/5ZmZ3X Of course by the time I publish this blog, that may have been retracted and proven to be accurate !! Even now over 12 hours later the pieces of news that were breaking then are being 'corrected' or as they would prefer to say, 'confirmed' at this time. It was dramatic, make no mistake of that. Shock and excitement being conveyed. Most of the news, of course came via tv stations. A flavour of the day : Sky http://is.gd/s2oDqn BBC blog http://is.gd/j6om5P
BBC News http://is.gd/GVAgdz View from Israel http://is.gd/lFRLTg FoxNews http://is.gd/oyggfg
But how did all this begin? Why did Osama bin Laden become such a venerated & worshipped figure amongst some - yet feared and hated by others ? I don't think anyone on any tv station has raised this today, (apart from him heading a terrorist organisation) yet there has been much speculation as to who his successor might be - almost along the lines of who the next Pope would be ! What about Al Qaeda... it's future... But who/what is Al Qaeda and why has it become part of our lives ? I would have thought that after such an event as has been reported today, that this question might have been examined but instead we've been awarded different accounts of the same story hour after hour... It all began on 9/11 or did it...? Doesn't it go back further ? Where do we go from here ? Do we want the same relationship. I'm not sure that I do... Do you ? How did it all begin ?
A quick potted history : The commencement of Al Qaeda is usually traced to the 1979 Soviet War in Afghanistan. The US was of the opinion that the Soviet support of the Afghan Marxists against the Afghan Mujahedeen was an indication of Soviet aggression and a way of expansion. Clearly the US felt uncomfortable. Operation Cyclone was launched via the CIA which forwarded funds through Pakistan's Intelligence agency to the Mujahedeen. Osama bin Laden approached the wealthy of Saudi Arabia to fund some organisations to fight the Afghan Marxists such as the Maktab-al-Khidamat group from which Al-Qaeda was created. In 1989 the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan but the communist Afghan government remained in power for a further three years, eventually over-ruled by the Mujahedeen which struggled to successfully provide an administration. I well remember the dreadful scenes from Afghanistan during that time and we have certainly seen them in recent years. Continual fighting left the region devastated. The struggle then spread to other parts of the world by some Mujahadeen and various organisations were created to take the struggle further, one such organisation being Al-Qaeda which I understand was created & headed up by Osama bin Laden.
The above all occurred before 11th September 2001 - or as we have come to know it - 9/11. We know what happened that day. Afterwards, Bush reacted, deided to go into Iraq taking Britain with him ! And we were part of a fully fledged war in the middle east. The US is still there... but do the American people wish to draw a line under all of the above ? You bet they do ! So where now ?
Without doubt Al Qeada will be appointing a new leader, if it hasn't done so already. Maybe the first indication we receive of that will be a violent one, injuring many many people. I sincerely hope not but it's likely and we are reaslistic enough to face up to that fact. Warnings to be vigilant have already been issued by the US Govt and the UK Foreign Office. I think we all reckon on revenge being taken for the US taking the life of Osama bin Laden. Can it be avoided ? Well, bin Laden brought various grievances and some of us will remember that these included the presence of US troops in the Middle East; the brutality and treatment of the Palestinians; and the continued sanctions against Iraq.
Do we argue with any of that ? Do we and the US have such concerns... ? Haven't we aired such grievances...? Am I saying that we have common concerns about what is happening in the world ? I think I am.... Is it just too simple to sit down and talk... before any more lives are lost... To do so we need to be chasing an agenda of peace, not war. We ALL need to be able to 'Turn the other cheek' and to take one quote from the Quran 'Turn thou then from them and say, ‘Peace’. Would that be possible... would it ? Could we do that ? After all, where does fighting and war take us... ? Is it too much to ask ? Or maybe not enough.... Ask yourselves, what is the alternative ? More of the same... more lives lost... we all lose loved one's in the end. Is that what we really want ? Losing mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children...
Could world leaders take us there ? Would it be possible ? Are they ready for that ? How would the media handle such a thought, such a consideration? Would it be as 'thrilling' for some as the news which has broken today? Would it sell newspapers or would the thought of peace not be quite so sensational? Oh I'm not naieve to believe it could happen without serious repercussions from some quarters... or that it could happen overnight, or could it ? Isn't it worth a try ? For all of us and for our children ? For peace, not war... Why don't we just try the Peace route..
Also posted on the #pressreform website which I contribute to. http://is.gd/1gG682
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