May 4, 2011

The Bad Guys Beyond Osama

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

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In less time than it took for the news to spread from coast to coast, cybercriminals already had started taking advantage of the death of Osama bin Laden. Everybody wanted to know about the May 1st raid that ended the hunt for one of the world's most notorious terrorists, and scammers knew it. Within hours of the announcement of bin Laden's death in Pakistan, scammers began using the phrase "osama bin laden dead" to draw web surfers to malicious sites, promising them photos or video or other news. When users try to download files or watch videos, their computers get infected with malware.

A bogus link for a video of bin Laden's death has spread virally around Facebook. The message declares, "SHOCKING NEW video of OSAMA BIN LADENS DEATH!! Exclusive BANNED VIDEO footage of Osama Bin Laden being killed!!!" Clicking on the link only takes users to a survey that must be completed in order to go further. Completing the survey does not earn users a video of Osama's death, however. It just earns the cyber con-artists money for every survey that is completed.

Osama bin Laden was not a particularly good man. In 2004, bin Laden claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2001 bombings that killed nearly 3000 people, primarily civilians. After the bombing, he rejoiced on tape about the carnage in New York City, saying, "This is all that we had hoped for." He was already wanted by the FBI in connection to the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed over 200 people and injured thousands. Testimony by former Al Qaida members and satellite phone records linked him to those bombings. Bin Laden had long justified the murder of innocents as part of his Islamic jihad, and the news that a woman was used as a human shield during the raid that killed him only demonstrates his general disregard for human life.

Yet, prior to his death, Osama bin Laden was not the only bad guy out there.

Computer hard drives and documents seized in Osama bin Laden's compound will be decrypted for clues about the location of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of Al Qaida, the next man on the CIA's target list. Zawahiri is another man who little values human life. A close ally of bin Laden since the 1980s, Zawahiri was the one who urged bin Laden to use suicide bombers as a method to attack the West. Bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis had forbidden the practice, but Zawahiri convinced bin Laden that "martyrdom" in the form of a suicide attack was acceptable. Zawahiri has been wanted for his part in the US embassy bombings, and is also considered the mind behind the October 12, 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors.

Fifty-nine-year-old Zawahiri is considered Al Qaida's chief ideologist. He orders suicide bombings and produces videos for Al Qaida devotees. Dan Byman, a counterterrorism expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the videos "are important because they show the organization is still active and they show a strategic plan of what to target and they enthuse a new generation of recruits."

US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is another concern. Al-Awlaki is still relatively young, born in 1971 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He left the United States in 2000 to join Al Qaida in Yemen, and he remains there, fully enthusiastic about slaughtering infidels in the name of Allah. He praised US Army Major Nidal Hassan after his shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, which killed 12 soldiers and a civilian in November, 2009. Al-Awlaki has more charisma than Zawahiri, and he speaks to possible extremist recruits in the West using his thoroughly American English to call on them to kill Americans, encouraging them to use the Internet to learn how to make crude bombs.

Bin Laden's death has dealt a blow to Al Qaida. He was the terrorist organization's leader and founder, and it is apparent that Allah did not protect him from the US forces in Pakistan those early morning hours of May 2. This does not mean that Al Qaida is done. The organization is like a franchise - scattered cells around the world with their own leaderships and local goals. While anticipating that Al Qaida would not last forever after the death of bin Laden, a senior Obama administration official still warned that the terrorist organization would likely attempt a series of attacks to prove its vitality. "Al Qaida operatives and sympathizers may try to respond violently to avenge Bin Laden's death," the official said, "and other terrorist leaders may try to accelerate their efforts to strike the United States."

It is wise to remain wary of the bad guys still out there. At the same time, we need to be careful about our own hearts. Every one of us is capable of great evil. Any one of us could be deceived into accepting ideas that are horrific and absolutely contrary to the heart of God. Jesus did not die for any of us because we were righteous and in no need of salvation. We have all participated in the destruction that takes place in this world, and the only salvation we have is through the blood of Jesus Christ.

As the world hunts for these additional terrorists, let us have the humility to recognize that none of us gets saved without the power and grace of God. What's more, Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us. Jesus died for terrorists too.

Related Links

Osama bin Laden dead: Ayman al-Zawahiri could replace him as al Qaeda boss, on FBI Most Wanted list - New York Daily News
Bin Laden Successor? Awlaki 'Most Effective' Jihadist - Christian Broadcasting Network
The Race to Replace Osama bin Laden as America's Most Wanted - The New American
White House fumbles getting its Osama bin Laden story straight - DEBKAfile
Obama’s Big Bet on Ground Zero Speech - FOX News