By Julie Stahl www.CBN.comJERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli leaders hailed on Monday the United States killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“This is a resounding triumph for justice, freedom and the values shared by all democratic nations fighting shoulder to shoulder in determination against terrorism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
The U.S. “never gave up, they continued on the hunt for the most dangerous man in the world,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a radio interview.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said the “world can breathe a sigh of relief at seeing the punishment [bin Laden] received, despite the fact that justice was late in coming.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “The U.S. showed perseverance and operational daring on this mission.”
Counter-terrorism expert Ely Karmon, from the Institute of Counter-terrorism at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya, said killing bin Laden was important on psychological and political levels because the “head of al-Qaeda, the most important terrorist leader, has been neutralized, killed.”
But on the operational level there’s no “real change,” Karmon said.
For the last three or four years bin Laden wasn’t active on the operational level and his activity on the propaganda level was minimal, he said.
“The main figure in al-Qaeda, the one who has decided the strategy but also led the psychological propaganda war was his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, who still is alive. We don’t know where,” he said.
However, he added, it’s possible the Americans found a computer or documents during the operation that could help them find other leaders.
And of course other terrorists could mount revenge attacks.
“It is quite clear that the jihadists all over the world, but especially in the Muslim and Arab world, will try to [take] revenge, to retaliate [for] this success of the American army and American intelligence services,” he said.
The U.S. State Department has issued an alert to U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to “limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.” U.S. government facilities are also at a “heightened state of alert.”
According to Karmon, there is a problem now because some of the police and security services in Arab countries have been dismantled and others are under “huge pressure” because of the uprisings in various countries.
“I think it will be difficult for them to defend American targets,” he said.
As for Israel, small terror groups that have sprung up under the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip over the last few years could attack Israel. Some have launched rocket attacks against the Jewish State.
“They, in my opinion, will try to revenge the death of bin Laden by attacking Israel, which is the best ally in the Middle East of the United States,” he said.
“This could provoke — at this specific very sensitive moment, when the Hamas is trying to have a quiet period before implementing its agreements with the Palestinian Authority and the September vote in the United Nations — this could provoke some incidents, which would ask for an Israeli retaliation and complicate the situation from the point of view of Hamas and even the Palestinian Authority,” he added.