SOCOM CHIEF ON BIN LADEN KILLING

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The com­man­der of the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand who took part in the ef­fort to kill al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden said the death of the ter­ror­ist leader was a land­mark event but did not end the global war on ter­ror­ism.

Speak­ing at a se­cu­rity fo­rum in Aspen, Colorado, Army Gen. Ray­mond A. “Tony” Thomas III said he was for­ward-de­ployed near Pak­istan when Navy SEALs con­ducted the May 2, 2011, raid on a com­pound in Ab­bot­tabad, Pak­istan, when bin Laden was shot.

“Truth­fully, at the time, it seemed in­cred­i­bly cathar­tic, and in fact when I think of hear­ing, you know, the code word ‘Geron­imo,’ which is in too many books and movies, I was ac­tu­ally flushed think­ing, ‘Man, it’s been a long 10 years. A lot of hard work went into this,’” Gen. Thomas re­called.

Geron­imo was the code word used by the com­man­dos to sig­nal that the al Qaeda leader was ei­ther killed or cap­tured.

“You know, it seemed like a sem­i­nal mo­ment and, truth­fully, it’s ac­tu­ally brought home I think the les­son that that was one guy, al­beit a pretty pow­er­ful and sym­bolic guy, he’s one guy on top of a net­work. And if you don’t dis­man­tle the whole net­work, if you don’t ad­dress the ide­ol­ogy, you’ve killed one guy,” he said.

The com­ments re­flect some of the think­ing that of­fi­cials of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion say will guide coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions de­signed to kill ter­ror­ist lead­ers and to ad­dress the rad­i­cal Is­lamic ide­ol­ogy that mo­ti­vates groups such as al Qaeda and the Is­lamic State.

Dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and fears of cre­at­ing a back­lash against Islam pre­vented ef­fec­tive ef­forts to tar­get the ter­ror­ist ide­ol­ogy. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has vowed to do more to at­tack the Is­lamists’ ide­ol­ogy as some­thing that ul­ti­mately will pro­duce the de­feat of ter­ror­ist groups.

Gen. Thomas em­pha­sized that the les­son of the long, dif­fi­cult in­tel­li­gence and mil­i­tary ef­fort to kill bin Laden didn’t trans­late into solv­ing the prob­lem of ter­ror­ism.

“To me, it was need­ful it had hap­pened. I think it was good for the coun­try to know that we would re­lent­lessly pur­sue some­body who had at­tacked us,” he said. “But the re­al­ity is it was just an­other step­ping­stone in this kind of epic fight that we’ve been at.”

Ad­dress­ing the fate of Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi, Gen. Thomas said the Is­lamic State leader re­mains the iconic head of the ter­ror­ist group and is ab­so­lutely rel­e­vant to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

De­spite al-Bagh­dadi’s si­lence in re­cent weeks, the four-star gen­eral said he does not be­lieve the Is­lamic State leader was killed, as Rus­sian re­ports have stated.

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