What Bin Laden's Death Means: Seven Observations

Osama Bin Laden1) This is a great moment in American history. There is justice in the world. But where is Ayman al-Zawahiri? Capturing the al Qaeda number-two would close this chapter almost entirely.

2) Pakistan has a great deal of explaining to do -- how could Bin Laden have been living near Islamabad, in a city, Abbotttabad, that is in some ways a military cantonment? This operation will only confirm for many people that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, knew more about the al Qaeda presence in its country then it shared with the U.S..

3) President Obama has laid to rest, at least for everyone not named Donald Trump, the notion that he is some sort of soft-on-terror, Manchurian-candidate stealth-Muslim.

4) American deterrent power is partially restored. The lesson for terrorists: If you commit an act of violence against America, this country will hunt you down until you are dead or in chains.

5) Islamist terrorism is not over. Bin Laden was not an operator, nor was he seemingly in control of operators. Cells may be activated in the coming days, individuals with jihadist goals might take action. This is a dangerous moment. An inevitable moment, but a dangerous one.

6) Al Qaeda is a diminished force, as a terrorist entity. But its ideas will remain potent among a small minority of Muslims, disaffected males in European countries among them.

7) If President Obama is seeking a quicker exit strategy from Afghanistan, he now has one. 

Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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