Americans can rightly rejoice at the long overdue demise of Osama bin Laden. His death, however, as with the deaths of other key al Qaeda leaders - from Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq to Abu Sulaiman in the Philip- pines - doesn’t means an end to the strug- gle we are engaged in.
Whenever the United States achieves a victory over al Qaeda in the war on terror, it is another torch passed to the terrorist group’s ideological allies, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is the Brotherhood that has accomplished more for the advancement of Islamic jihad politically than anything done by al Qaeda. The organizations share an ideological affinity, only differing in methods for achieving their shared ends.
We are seeing a wave across the Middle East from Tunisia to Syria that the Brotherhood is carefully riding. Events are validating the Muslim Brotherhood’s different methodology: patience, perseverance, stealth, subversion, political activism, mobilization and access.
As a result, many recognize the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, as the more insidious threat.
Indeed, the Brotherhood has established a troubling access to our government and national-security apparatus. Our Justice Department recently quashed the terror-financing prosecutions of a host of remaining unindicted co-conspirators from the trial of the Holy Land Foundation charity established by the Muslim Brotherhood in Dallas.
It is important to understand that there is an ideological thread that extends across al Qaeda to the Taliban, to terrorist groups in Pakistan and to some extent, elements of the Pakistani security establishment, and then to Saudi Arabia and Iran and Hezbollah.
It is the ideology, not the acts of terror, that we must ultimately confront.
I never believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in a cave. Now reports that his compound was only yards away from a Pakistani military base and in a neighborhood full of military officers paint a troubling picture of Pakistan, our ally from the beginning of the war on terror.
For that reason, even with bin Laden’s death, our Islamic jihad problem remains vibrant in Pakistan and Iran, which rely on terror proxies as a matter of policy.
The combat jihad efforts of al Qaeda have been set back by killing bin Laden, yet others will step into his shoes, and we will remain focused on those violent actors while the cultural jihad of the Muslim Brotherhood moves forward every day across the globe and here at home.
Ironically, one can argue that America today is a large center of Islamic terror financing, training and preparation. Americans fighting jihad in Somalia is but an indicator, as is American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, now in Yemen.
Until we obtain a real strategic understanding of the threat we face as we did with the Soviet Union and global communism in the aftermath of World War II, we can kill the next al Qaeda leader and continue to achieve these tactical victories without achieving a clear strategic goal.
Nonetheless, it is fitting that Osama bin Laden died with an American bullet in his head. For whatever it symbolizes around the world, it is the strongest message that can be sent to allies, putative allies and enemies alike: Ultimately, the United States will do what it has to do to defend our values and way of life.
Joseph Myers, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is a founding member of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa and a recent Afghanistan veteran.