Osama bin Laden may still be alive out there, but history long ago closed the book on him: He’s a failure, writes Tony Karon in Time. The 9/11 attacks were a tactical victory for al-Qaeda, striking fear into Western hearts. But the strategy behind them “has proven to be fundamentally flawed.” Bin Laden imagined that the attacks would inspire a global Islamist revolution, led by al-Qaeda. They didn’t.
Instead, the attacks were so heinous that many Muslims refused to believe that Muslims were responsible, instead blaming the CIA or Mossad. Al-Qaeda was shunned, its networks broken by local authorities. Today it consists of a few hundred desperate warriors in the Pakistani wilderness, “a political address otherwise known as oblivion.” When Ayman al-Zawahiri tried to criticize Hamas 2 years ago, a spokesman sneered. Hamas didn’t need advice from “a fugitive in the Afghan mountains.”