How will al-Qaeda react?
“(Sunday’s) events will cause quite a bit of uprisings and protests from Arab sympathizers,” Dr. Charles Murphy, Marine, Cold War veteran CIA analyst and professor in the Helms School of Government, said. “A few people over there will be glad that (bin Laden’s) gone, but they do not have the freedom to express it.”
Murphy said that al-Qaeda will have to retaliate. He suspects the open Mexico border with drug smuggling tunnels as a prime target but adds that the miles of unprotected shoreline or virtually unwatched Canadian border also offer easy passage.
“It would be nothing to bring a bunch of anthrax across the border and release it in a big city,” he said.
Murphy said that al-Qaeda will have to rebuild its organization, even if it is out of pride.
“My suspicion is that somebody else has been running things behind the scenes for a while now, because bin Laden has been in poor health for some time,” he said. “We have decimated their organization, but they will have to rebuild it and continue the fight.”
Murphy said Pakistan will be a major problem in the future. U.S./Pakistan relations are already strained, and the fact that bin Laden was living 1,000 feet from an army compound has not escaped notice.
The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, fed bin Laden money while he fought the Soviets in the ‘80s, and al-Qaeda leaders have been living in Pakistan since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He said the terrain in both countries “makes West Virginia look like a flat plain.”
“The biggest problem with Pakistan is a very weak government with very big weapons,” Murphy said.
Arab society is built around the family and clan. He said warfare between clans there has been going on forever and will resume the moment the U.S. pulls out, “with the exception of a little property being rearranged.”
“In order to understand the Arab world, you need to understand this one maxim. ‘Me. Me against my brother. My Brother and I against our cousin. My brother, cousin and I against the infidel,’” Murphy said. “We are all infidels.”
President Barack Obama recently announced that Gen. David Petraeus, the man who has for his part successfully led the rebuilding of both Afghanistan and Iraq, will be the new CIA director. The move will help bolster relations between the military and intelligence circles.
“Gen. Petraeus is a master strategist,” Murphy said. “I think it will take some time to transition to civilian service, but I think it will help the military to have one of their own in charge who understands what they’re going through.”