Killing bin Laden will not be enough on its own. But by continuing to embrace the Arab spring and beginning massive withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. can finally defeat his war of terror.
A 2008 anti-U.S. demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan. Mohsin Raza / Reuters
With the death of Osama bin Laden, many are asking: What does this mean for the war on terror? Is it possible for the United States and its allies to put the fear of terrorism behind us, or are we destined to see al-Qaeda reconstituted, with fresh waves of attacks into the foreseeable future?
Bin Laden's death may well be the most important single step in the war on terror since 2001, but it creates an even larger opportunity for America and its allies. To capitalize on those gains and further undercut al-Qaeda's popular support, the U.S. may find that the best way forward in its war against al-Qaeda could be by withdrawing ground troops from its two other wars, partially from Afghanistan and completely from Iraq.
Over the past decade, we have studied every major terrorist attack since September 11, 2001, including all suicide attacks around the world (over 2,200 cases) and every instance of leadership "decapitation" -- in which the leadership of a terrorist group is killed -- (over 300 cases) in recent decades. As part of this work, we have studied al-Qaeda and its followers extensively.