The internet and power have been very suspect these past few weeks, so we have been very removed from the outside world. We found out that Osama bin Laden was killed at the ELCT-ND central office about a day after the event took place. We were introduced to a pastor that we had not yet met and he informed us that bin Laden was dead. He presented the news in a nonchalant manor, and the Tanzanians we were with acted similarly. Our reaction was neutral and casual. It had been nearly 10 years since that infamous morning on September 11th and we just assumed he was already killed in a random strike or that he would never be found.
We did not holler and cheer, as we discovered many Americans did in the streets of the U.S. Tanzania has a ratio of Muslim to Christian of about 1:1 throughout the country. It is well understood that the war on terror is not a war on Islam; however, the “random” security checks in airports, negative news about building mosques, and always prevalent extremism (from both faiths) sometimes suggests otherwise.
Many people do not remember, but Tanzania experienced a terrorist attack that was directed by bin Laden. On August 7, 1998, the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya were simultaneously attacked. The attack killed 11 Tanzanians, and from that point, Tanzania was an ally of the United States in the “War on Terror.”
Still, as a foreigner, it is appropriate to not flash immediate reactions. Our travels have shown us that even with allies of the U.S., many countries do not appreciate U.S. military tactics or quick reactions. Since we had absolutely no information, other than a side note during an introduction, we felt it was important to remain neutral in discussing this topic until we knew more information.
The next day, we purchased a local newspaper to read more about the incident. We do not have a TV or a radio, so newspapers are our only outlet to the local media. The headline in the newspaper was “World on Alert after U.S. Kills bin Laden.” We read a total of 16 articles in the newspaper and one editorial about bin Laden’s death. The articles were gathered from Washington D.C., London, Israel, Dar es Salam, and Moshi. We decided to include the international reaction in our blog because of the variations in the comments and opinions. The following are quotes from local and international leaders who are referenced in the articles.
Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzanian President: “It is a relief that much I can say. And we are taught to not cherish the demise of fellow human beings… With the death of the mastermind [of several terrorist attacks] we can have a break, but this does not mean the war is over. Al-Qaeda is an organization, not an individual.”
Dr. Azaveli Lwaitama, Philosophy professor at the University of Dar es Salaam: “Osama was not condemned by the court of law… We should not celebrate the death of any person, even those who we don’t like. People are terrorists when they believe that their enemies should be killed. Such people are fanatics and extremists. What people should do is fight the ideas, not the individual.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister: “This is a resounding triumph for justice, freedom and the values shared by all democratic nations fighting shoulder to shoulder in determination against terrorism.”
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City: “New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.
Several of the articles had cautious conclusions, reminding foreigners to be safe. Most of the articles reminded everyone that terrorism still exists, and that not one death will end the War on Terror. Numerous articles named the Yemen branch of Al-Qaeda as the next obstacle for the war.
We were finally able to get internet access to see the general American reaction, and these are our thoughts. It is regrettable that after nearly 3,000 deaths, it takes one more for so many to feel closure on this tragic event in American history. If that is what our fellow citizens needed to feel that justice was served, then we pray that they received closure. We did not react to the news of bin Laden’s death by yelling and cheering because we do not need closure. We will always remember September 11th, where we were, and our initial thoughts as the events unfolded that fateful day. However, we believe that we are in the process of alleviating a potential source for terroristic ideals, poverty.
We believe that the “War on Terror” is a two front war. One front is the war itself. It is important to stop the current terrorist organizations, and it is important to protect the citizens of the world who cannot protect themselves. The second front is equally important – the need to provide preventative and long-term results in the communities where terrorism arises. In order to see long-term solutions, more foreign aid is also needed in areas such as education, women’s rights, and alleviating extreme poverty. This quote from President Barak Obama’s speech sums it up best.
“Yet today’s achievement [Osama bin Laden’s death] is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. The cause of securing our country is not complete, but tonight we are once again reminded that Americans can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.”
May those who seek closure find it; may there be no more deaths needed in this war; may our efforts always remain positive; and may American minds be set toward preventative and peaceful measures.
Thank you to everyone who sent an email or message warning us of the day’s event and asking us to assure our safety. Your thoughts, messages and prayers are much appreciated!
We are curious to know your thoughts! Please email us or comment below to share your ideas!