Release photo of bin Laden for 9/11

Four months after Osama bin Laden was tracked down and killed by American intelligence and military teams — and 10 years after he engineered the devastating terrorist attacks against the United States — it’s time to release the photos of Osama bin Laden in death.

Photos were reportedly taken by Navy Seal Team 6 after it sneaked into bin Laden’s lair in Pakistan in May, and shot the terrorist mastermind during a gun battle. To date, President Barack Obama has declined to make those photographs public.

We are under no illusion that releasing the photos will somehow be a deterrence to remaining al-Qaida operatives or other Islamic terrorists, any more than the death penalty in the United States is a deterrent to murder in this country.

Terrorists who want to see the world devolve into chaos, or see the establishment of some 21st century version of a 14th century Muslim caliphate, care little about capital punishment. They blow themselves up with as much enthusiasm as they kill innocent people, be they Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist or fellow Muslims. See the New Delhi bombing on Wednesday.

But releasing photos of the dead bin Laden, and perhaps other al-Qaida commanders killed since Sept. 11, 2001, would be a poignant offset to all of the memorials this week for the innocent people murdered in those 9/11 attacks. It would say, “Yes we remember those who died in these unprovoked attacks. But we also recall those who caused their deaths. The culprits did not go unpunished for their foul deeds.”

We recognize there is a bit of Old West retribution in this suggestion — like displaying slain members of the Dalton Gang in coffins on Main Street after their failed bank-robbery attempt in Coffeyville, Kans. It tells citizens these terrorists didn’t get away with it. They aren’t immune to justice. They haven’t destroyed our civilization. Be not afraid. They are just humans — murderous, fanatic humans, but not supernatural beasts.

The outlook in the United States and most of the Western World right now is somber, not due to terrorists, but because of uncertainty related to the economy.

At the same time, al-Qaida, although it continues trying to murder innocent people, is less and less relevant, even in the Muslim world. From Libya to Egypt, Tunisia to Syria, there is growing pressure to throw off the yolk of authoritarian regimes and create democratic governments.

Whether that democratic movement ultimately succeeds remains to be seen, but the fact that such a movement has led to multiple uprisings in Muslim countries is inimical to al-Qaida.

So let’s celebrate the fact that, 10 years after, al-Qaida hasn’t won. It’s on the ropes, not just in the West, but where it was created.

What better way to make that point internationally obvious than to publicly release photos showing the death of the movement’s founder, Osama bin Laden, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks he thought would lead to al-Qaida’s victory.


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