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Osama bin Laden Gone But Not Forgotten in Pakistan

Two years ago, President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden by a U.S. special forces team in Abbottabad, Pakistan. While some Pakistanis still view him as a hero, many hope his legacy fades with time.

Osama bin Laden's life on the run lasted nearly 10 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The man who became a global symbol of anti-Western militant Islam was finally found living a strictly secluded life in Pakistan.

The government has since torn down the house in Abbottabad where bin Laden was hiding, close to a military base. It remains an empty lot.

But for some residents bin Laden remains a hero, such as cook Haji Mohammad Ali.

“He was a very good human being, many people are good, but he was Islam’s flag," he said. "He was a good person for Islam and Muslim brothers. He served religion. May God make all like him.”

It took the United States 10 years to hunt down bin Laden, a search portrayed in the movie Zero Dark Thirty.

Video shops in Islamabad do not distribute the popular film. Privately, shop owners say they came under government pressure.

As Pakistan continues its fight against terrorism, author and analyst Imtiaz Gul says authorities do not want bin Laden’s memory to serve as an ideological inspiration.

“I think there is a very conscious effort not to allow Osama bin Laden to rise again in the eyes of certain people as a hero, as an icon of Muslim jihad against the United States,l" he said. "So I think the best thing would just to allow it to fade into history.”

Al-Qaida and militant Islam are not popular among the majority of Pakistanis, and bin Laden is rarely talked about. But analysts say the war in Afghanistan and drone strikes in Pakistan have deepened public anger against the United States.

In Abbottabad, although authorities are not memorializing bin Laden, some residents are. In the neighborhood around the al-Qaida chief’s former neighborhood at least four children have been named Osama since his death.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.