Bin Laden’s death could cripple terrorist financing
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: News of the death of Osama bin Laden has world stock markets higher which we’ll get to in a moment. What we’re not sure about is how the terrorist mastermind’s death will affect financing of his al-Qaida network in all its forms.
The BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones is en-route to Pakistan, where bin Laden was killed, and he joins us now by phone. Good morning Owen.
OWEN BENNETT-JONES: Good morning to you.
CHIOTAKIS: What does this do to terrorist financing in the short term, Owen?
BENNETT-JONES: To terrorist financing I’d have thought it might provide a boost as people who are sympathetic to bin Laden trying to redouble the struggle. But the fact is, financing has never really been an issue for al-Qaida. They’ve had squeezes from time to time and there’s been evidence of that from some of the intelligence. But basically they can get the money they need.
CHIOTAKIS: And, you know, but long-term the head of the monster is dead. Does that hurt them in the long run?
BENNETT-JONES: Well, I mean I think in a way, bin Laden is no longer as big a figure as he was you know at the time of 9/11, so al-Qaida has spread its wings since he founded it. It’s present in many parts of the world now, with separate organizations, separate leaderships and so on. I’m not sure that this will make the impact that it would’ve done had it happened you know, eight, nine years ago.
CHIOTAKIS: I’m curious, Owen, you know authorities say they tracked him down by following couriers to that big residence in Pakistan. Did the U.S. use financial tracking to do him in?
BENNETT-JONES: I very much doubt it. I mean what’s been happening as I understand it is that he hasn’t been using any telephonic communication, satellite communication, anything like that. Everything done through people. So it made complete sense to me that those who were either arranging meetings for him with other Jihadi leaders, or passing messages for him would be the weak link in the chain.
CHIOTAKIS: The BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones. Owen, thank you.
BENNETT-JONES: Thank you.
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