Since Al-Qaeda released a statement acknowledging the death of its leader , there have been small scale protests in various parts of the Muslim world but no backlash as such except the threat by Al-Qaeda. Significantly, early survey revealed 66% of Pakistanis believed that the whole thing was an eyewash and Osama had not been killed, their views may have changed after Al-Qaeda statement but the fact remains that an equal number of people, especially but not exclusively Muslims, have never believed that Osama Bin Laden was linked to the 9/11 terror attacks. From a non-partisan point of view, there is really no evidence to link them. Conspiracy theorists question why Osama was not captured if he was unarmed, why did they want to silence him ? The answer is, if he were arrested and given a fair trial, there was hardly any credible evidence that the prosecutors could have placed. They never wanted to take him in alive, Glenn Beck should at least know that!
This does not mean he was innocent at all, we Indians have experiences of similar situations. We know Dawood Ibrahim's group was responsible for serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993, we know Azhar Masood was responsible for the attack on Indian Parliament and Hafeez Saeed, the leader behind the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In fact,on a slightly different line we also know that the current Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi was responsible for Muslim genocide in 2001 and Congress leaders such as Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler behind the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. In none of these "known" cases, there are incontrovertible evidence again the accused, mostly because they are so high up in hierarchy that the trail goes cold at a certain level. But they are the leaders of the groups that have carried out such heinous acts. They are not leaders because they are the best in preparing explosives or carrying out stealth operations but because they are the ideological heads and espouse the causes that their foot soldiers carry out.
In case of Osama, even if we are unwilling to buy the official 9/11 story, we cannot deny that Osama founded the Al-Qaeda, as a militant group to attack the US, Western countries and even Muslim countries that did not follow a particular and a radical school of Islamic doctrine. In fact,his vision was something like Talibanizing the entire world. Such a world would have no place for many of his sympathizers, Shias, Sufis (majority population of Pakistan), and other non-Salafis in general and every clean-shaven Muslim in particular. Ironically, many of these sympathizers are aware of all of these but refuse to believe that Osama and Al-Qaeda carried out the 9/11 carnage. Why such child-like obstinacy ?
The only plausible answer seems to be the fact that they strongly disagree with Al-Qaeda's method but saw in Osama the only rallying point against the US and the West. But then are the Arabs in particular so opposed to the West ? The ongoing Jasmine Revolution,also called Arab Spring, is being conducted on the same principles and values the West swears by. In fact the Arab protestors have asked for support from the West in the ongoing revolution and the latter have responded favorably. Then why is the anti-American sentiment so high in the region ? The answer is pretty simple. For more than half-a-century, almost all Arab countries have been ruled by ruthless despots who deny their citizens even the basic civil rights, yet they remain in power undeterred as long as they satisfy the demand of their Western masters. Resentment against these rulers converted into resentment against the West and the US which is rightfully seen as the party responsible for their current plight.
Globalization and information revolution has flattened the world, anti-American sentiment hasn't vanished from the Arab streets but the angst is now directed at their own autocratic rulers. While Osama was hiding we-know-where, the Arabs found an unlikely hero in a poor Tunisian hawker Mohammed Bouazizi. Humiliated, deprived of his only means of livelihood, Bouazizi did not strap an explosive vest and blow up himself and everyone else in the headquarter, he did something more courageous by setting himself on fire as his oppressors watched. He died 10 days later but the flame had already spread across the Arab world forcing Tunisian President Ben Ali to flee the country and bring down the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Success in Libya and other states remains limited but such a huge transformation should not be expected to be over in a fortnight. And it is not just the Arab autocrats, extremists groups like Al-Qaeda too have lost relevance.What Osama with his private army, his billions,his oratory skill, his past CIA training and present rogue state support, could not do in a decade,Bouazizi did in 10 days, bringing down 2 of the most powerful dictators of the region. Now, more Arabs move towards democracy and transparency the greater would be their opposition towards Islamist terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.
We may not be able to write off the Al-Qaeda yet, but we can definitely delink them from Arab angst. Al-Qaeda-Taliban operating out of Pakistan is very different from Arab-based terrorists groups, mostly because in case of the former, too many factors are involved including duplicity on part of all actors involved. It is no more an ideology-based warfare and scope is getting more and more localized and need I say petty. The Navy SEALs may have gunned down the fugitive called Osama Bin Laden but the icon on whose commands scores of youths would blow themselves up killing innocent civilians, the leader of the globally dispersed Islamist terrorists, the most wanted terrorist in the world was defeated in Tunisia and decimated at the Tahrir Square in Cairo.