Patt Morrison for May 2, 2012

Without Osama bin Laden, how big of a threat is al-Qaida?

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Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

A man reads a newspaper announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, at a newsstand in Rio de Janeiro on May 2, 2011. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was shot dead deep inside Pakistan in a night-time helicopter raid by US covert forces, ending a decade-long manhunt for the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

When U.S. seals killed Osama bin Laden, did they also destroy al-Qaida? Patt checks up on al-Qaida’s activity one year after bin Laden’s death—including how it has shifted tactics in his absence.

She also talks with the man who spent much of his 22-year career as a CIA intelligence officer hunting, but never catching, bin Laden. In a statement he issued in 2007, bin Laden even wrote to the U.S.

“If you want to understand what’s going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard.”

Scheuer argued while bin Laden was still living, that the U.S. fundamentally misunderstood him as a crazy-eyed, homicidal fanatic, when in fact he was a man of intellect, compassion, and piety. That misunderstanding, Scheuer argued, kept us suffering casualties in Afghanistan. Critics, however, have long argued that Scheuer has incentive to build up an endlessly illusive and omnipotent adversary, who defied American intelligence—and specifically Scheuer—for so long.

WEIGH IN:

What has changed since Osama bin Laden was killed? Do you feel more secure since the assassination?

Guest:

Brian Michael Jenkins, senior advisor to president of the RAND Corporation; author, “Al Qaeda in Its Third Decade”

Michael Scheuer, author, “Osama bin Laden”


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