By Chet Yarbrough
Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11
By Peter L. Bergen
Peter Bergen (British-American Journalist, Author, CNN Nation Security Analyst)
Written by Peter Bergen, Manhunt is a page turning thriller that tells America’s story of the search for and killing of Osama bin Laden, an acknowledged mass murderer.
The story of the search and killing of Osama bin Laden perversely satisfies human nature’s desire for revenge.
Osama bin Laden (1957-2011, Saudi Arabian founder of the militant orgranization al-Qaeda.)
Osama bin Laden takes responsibility for 9/11/01 killing of nearly 3,000 innocents–one presumes bin Laden goes to his grave believing in his rationalization for terror and murder.
Osama Bin Laden and his followers believe America manipulates and subverts Middle Eastern culture and religious belief. Bin Laden called Americans infidels who deserved death because they did not believe in the “truth” of Allah. To most Muslims this is a distortion of the true meaning of Islamic faith and a false interpretation of the Koran.
Bin Laden’s son is alleged to have the same sentiment as his father. Hamza bin Laden is rumored to be the new leader of al-Qaeda with the same terrorist ambitions. America offers a $1,000,000 bounty for the capture of Hamza bin Laden. (Killed in 2019–alleged to have been a result of America’s counter intelligence operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.)
Many, if not most, Muslims argue that Osama bin Laden misrepresented the Koran and its teaching about life and the hereafter. To many, the nature of the living is to be free to choose what one believes and to live in peace with your neighbors.
Al Qaida’s rationalization for terrorism comes from an interpretation of the Koran that condones indiscriminate murder of others; including believers in the faith. This is appalling because it involves murder of innocents. How can a babe in arms be guilty?
Biblical literature of all major faiths, at different times, have notoriously rationalized murder of innocents. The God of Abraham is a vengeful God in the Old Testament. The Old Testament speaks of killing every man, woman, and child in ancient communities because of failure to follow the word of God. How can a child in the womb be guilty of not following the word of God?
American rationalization for drone use also murders innocents. There is a calculated number given as an acceptable number of innocents to be killed in a drone attack on suspected terrorists.
Osama bin Laden manages to evade capture for over ten years after 9/11. Bergen infers this long period of evasion is a result of distracted American military focus, poor American intelligence, and political ambivalence of Middle Eastern allies.
The key to tracking Osama bin Laden is Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed, aka Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti (the Kuwaiti). Bergen explains that Ahmed is a trusted courier for Osama bin Laden. Ahmed is summoned to a compound in Abbottabad, after having been away from al Qaida for nearly a year. This summoning and extensive surveillance of the Abbottabad compound suggest a high ranking al Qaida leader is hiding in this northeastern Pakistani’ city of nearly 1.5 million people.
Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed (al-Qaeda member and courier that lead Navy Seals to Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.)
Osama bin Laden Pakistan compound in plain sight of the Pakistani military.
Bergen explains how American government leaders and military analysts monitor and eventually infiltrate the Abbottabad’ compound for actionable intelligence. The focus of the team is to determine who the high ranking person is in the Pakistani compound. Speculation grows to a 50% chance that the person is Osama bin Laden.
Location of the bin Laden compound in relation to the Pakistan Miltary Academy.
The highest government and military leaders of America wrestle with life and death decisions; often based on too few facts for guaranteed mission success.
Bergen’s build up to the decision to send a team of Navy Seals into the compound rivals the best drama one can write about a secret military mission.
Bergen illustrates the difference between being a manager and a leader. The former keeps an organization running; the latter gives organization purpose.
Just as one President chooses not to cross the border of Iraq in operation Desert Storm, a second chooses to invade Iraq, and a third chooses to illegally cross Pakistan’s border. Some argue America is right twice and wrong once. (The misleading representation of WMD in the invasion of Iraq was a mistake for which America and the world continues to pay.)
Right or wrong, American Presidents show themselves to be leaders. Even Trump leads in his own way. The concern is in where facts begin and rationalization ends.
By the end of Bergen’s story, a listener understands the complexity of the decisions made by American Presidents. On reflection, one realizes bin Laden, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler were also leaders. In that recognition, one realizes how important it is for nations’ political systems to choose their leaders carefully.