The Death of Bin Laden – Implications for UK foreign policy and homeland security

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Executive Summary

GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM (GWOT)

  • The death of Osama Bin Laden presents an opportunity for the UK to re-emphasize its commitment to winning the GWOT – both at home and abroad.
  • In the short term, his death changes little about the threat of militant Islamism. In the long run, however, it is difficult to predict how his demise will affect Al Qaeda‘s global capabilities.

AFGHANISTAN

  • Bin Laden‘s death will have no discernable impact on insurgent activity in Afghanistan at an operational level.
  • The population-centric counterinsurgency strategy currently being pursued is the correct one, and should continue.

THE PAKISTAN RELATIONSHIP

  • The location of Bin Laden‘s compound suggests collusion within the ranks of the Pakistani security services.
  • Pressing questions about the future of the Coalition‘s alliance with Pakistan need to be asked.

THE ARAB SPRING

  • The 2011 pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East (MENA) demonstrate that support there for militant Islamism is extremely limited.
  • Britain should use the death of Bin Laden as an opportunity to place greater emphasis on promoting democracy and human rights in the MENA region.

HOMELAND SECURITY

  • There is an immediate threat of retaliatory attacks against the UK. Bin Laden‘s death should propel the government to consider the effectiveness of the UK‘s current homeland security architecture.

MANAGING PERCEPTIONS

  • Bin Laden‘s death shatters the illusion of the invincibility of the Islamist cause and refocuses minds on what this conflict is about and why it matters.
  • Recognising that the fight against militant Islamism is as much a battle of ideas as a conventional conflict, Britain and its allies should support Muslim voices challenging the Islamist narrative.
HJS



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