On the anniversary of the extra-judicial killing of Osama bin Laden, I am re-posting this blog about the wasted opportunities brought about by his death and the inherent dangers in the manner of his death. Instead of re-evaluating the policy of killing suspected terrorists – from an ethical or legal perspective or in terms of effectiveness in ending the use of terrorism – the US and its allies have expanded the use of killing as a counter-terrorism strategy to include the whole world as its domain and a greatly expanded set of targets. I expect that in a few years time, no doubt following another terrorist atrocity, we will look back at this killing programme as the reason for the next round of blowback. Has anything changed? No, the cylce of violence rolls on without interruption…


The assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Special Forces on May 2, 2011 provoked mixed reactions around the world. In the United States, it was greeted in many quarters with spontaneous celebrations and public rhetoric about justice finally having been seen to be done for the victims of 9/11. In Pakistan, it was met with some discomfort that he had lived there unnoticed and unmolested for so long, and with a sense of genuine concern about the potential political fall-out of the raid for US-Pakistan relations and domestic stability. In many other world capitals, there was a sense of relief that the hunt for the elusive leader of al-Qaeda was finally over, but some disquiet over the manner in which it had played out and the joyous reaction it provoked in the American public. In attempting to assess the real impact and potential long-term consequences of bin…

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About richardjacksonterrorismblog

I am currently Professor of Peace Studies and the Director of the National Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Prior to this, I was Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. I study and teach on issues of pacifism and nonviolence, terrorism, political violence, conflict resolution and war. I have published several books on these topics, including: The Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies (Routledge, 2016); Terrorism: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011; co-authored with Lee Jarvis, Jeroen Gunning and Marie Breen Smyth); Contemporary State Terrorism: Theory and Cases (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010; edited by Richard Jackson, Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting); Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009; edited by Richard Jackson, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning); Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-first Century: Principles, Methods and Approaches (Ann Arbor MI: Michigan University Press, 2009; co-authored with Jacob Bercovitch); and Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005). I am also the editor-in-chief of the academic journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism. In 2014, I published a research-based novel entitled, Confessions of a Terrorist (Zed Books, 2014) which explores the mind and motivation of a terrorist.
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