McClatchy-Tribune News Service
The following editorial will appear in the Kansas City Star on Tuesday, May 3.
For almost 10 years, The Kansas City Star editorial board has been holding a prepared obituary for Osama bin Laden. It was updated on occasion as events warranted. Finally, the version crafted by former editorial board member Bill Tammeus, written on behalf of the board, may be published:
The death of Osama bin Laden means the end of an evil man, not the demise of the evil ideas that drove him.
His twisted version of Islam still infects the hearts and minds of extremists around the globe. They see terrorism as a legitimate tool to further their political and religious ends because they pledge allegiance to bin Laden's contorted thinking, paranoid dreams and dangerous theology.
So any relief Americans feel about the death of bin Laden _ and there is great relief _ must be tempered by the realization that his ideas live on, at least for now.
It's hard to know just why bin Laden ran so far amok. He grew up as a member of a rich and powerful family in Saudi Arabia. That family and the Saudi government have disowned him.
But 15 of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were Saudis. That showed that bin Laden's brand of religious nonsense achieved considerable popularity in his homeland.
Bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network has suffered several body blows since U.S. and allied troops drove its protectors, the Taliban, out of Afghanistan, starting in late 2001.
Early in 2003, for instance, Western forces captured such bin Laden allies as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who planned the 9-11 attacks at bin Laden's behest. Mohammed's arrest provided information about bin Laden and the rest of his religious thugs.
But al-Qaida is not dead. It has established cells, operatives and allies in dozens of countries and it continues to pursue its vile visions.
It's not yet clear who will emerge as the network's new leader, but whoever it is certainly will be committed to the grizzly goal bin Laden outlined in his 1998 religious ruling, "Kill Americans Everywhere."
Bin Laden's ability to escape for so long after the 9-11 attacks shows that his network of supporters and sympathizers has been wide. The bad news is they now may have a new martyr to inspire them.