Local war expert: Troops should stay in Middle East - abc27 WHTM

Cumberland County

Local war expert: Troops should stay in Middle East

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Across the country and the world, headlines proclaim victory. U.S. forces killed the most wanted terrorist in the world. Dr. W. Andrew Terrill with the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle agrees that getting bin Laden was a grand accomplishment.

"Osama, of course, became the symbol of radical Islamism and the idea that you could attack the west through terrorism," said Terrill. "He couldn't keep it up forever. And eventually he failed to count on how tenacious we'd be in pursuing him and getting him."

Dr. Terrill has spent 30 years studying the Middle East. He's served as a professor, an Army Reserves officer and has worked with the State Department. After the 9/11/01 terror attacks, Terrill was called to the Pentagon for a year, directly researching bin Laden. He believes bin Laden's death could lessen the passion of some of his followers.

"Bin Laden's not as exciting a figure for them anymore as he might have been," he said. "He's not as inspiring as he might have been."

Despite that, Terrill cautions against pulling U.S. troops from the Middle East. The reason is because eliminating bin Laden did not eliminate other threats. The Taliban remains active, a group bin Laden did not lead. In addition, a strong al-Qaeda group is remains based in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the group blamed from the Christmas 2009 failed bombing of an airplane in Detroit and the 2010 failed plot to send bomb parcels throughout the United States. This group did not directly follow orders from bin Laden.

"Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula is a very powerful organization. It's mounted two unsuccessful but very ambitious attacks against the United States," Terrill said.

Threats clearly remain. Terrill believes some terrorists will likely want the U.S. to pay a price for killing bin Laden.

"This is probably a time for increased vigilance because their future may depend upon their ability to strike back for this very, very punishing blow that they've received," he said. "I think one thing that it means for the United States is that we show that we're very committed and tenacious...and we will hunt down our enemies when they engage in these types of atrocities against our people,even if it takes 10 years."

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