May 1, 2011, will go down in history as the day that Osama bin Laden was finally pronounced dead. The world’s No. 1 terrorist was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan. Unlike what we had been expecting, he was not found hiding in some cave in the mountains of Afghanistan; he was found only 30 miles outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, living in a million-dollar mansion. This man was responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent people, including the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Cutting off the head of the most notorious terrorism organization in the world, al-Qaida, will be a big blow to those who conspire to destroy our way of life.
It’s worth remembering that al-Qaida’s innocent victims were not limited to the United States. Terrorist attacks occurred in diverse places such as Kenya, Russia, Indonesia, Somalia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, England, India and even as recently as last week in Morocco. Bin Laden claimed to be a Muslim and a follower of Islam, and yet his extremist and violent espoused beliefs led to the death of more Muslims than by any other single group.
This is not a victory of America over terrorism but rather a victory of freedom of choice over tyranny. It is a victory for every little girl or young woman who simply wants to go to school and receive an education, without fear of getting blown up by those who followed bin Laden’s twisted ideology. It is a victory for all people in the world — regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religious affiliation — who desire to live their lives in peace and freedom.
The timing of his death coincides with the unrest we’re seeing throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The winds of change are blowing, and they are blowing hard. From Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and beyond, we are witnessing a true revolution. Young men and women are taking to the streets and often paying the ultimate price, their very lives, for a chance to finally have a voice. The desire for self-determination is a God-given right for every human being on this earth.
Nobody likes to be controlled, and although millions have been subjugated for many years, historical hindsight weighs more heavily on the side of goodness and freedom over evil and darkness. The light will eventually overcome the destructiveness that comes with this twisted ideology.
Bin Laden’s death does not mean the end of extremism or terrorism. As a matter of fact, I would expect multiple attempts by his followers to take revenge and attempt to show they’re still viable. Their retaliation, however, will be short-lived, even if they end up pulling off a large attack. Bin Laden’s deputy and second in command, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, is likely to take over, at least in the short run. He is a controversial figure and does not inspire the same blind following that bin Laden did. Rest assured that whoever steps up to lead this terrorist organization will have a similar fate eventually. Just like bin Laden, “you can run but you cannot hide from the long arm of justice.”
Today, our world with all of its problems is a better place. For anyone who loves freedom, democracy and respect of fundamental human rights, this is a good day.
God bless us and protect us as we move forward.
Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.