America is jubilant today with the news of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of American operatives, and the president's approval ratings are sure to take a leap after the one-two punch of decapitating the birthers and incapacitating the world's most wanted terrorist. Those two things are totally equal in importance, right?
But before you dance in the streets and burn things in barrels, consider the myriad complications around the simple idea of bin Laden as a figurehead. Will Al Qaeda rear up, hydra-like, and seek vengeance? Will conspiracists question bin Laden's "burial at sea"? And what of the terrorists he oversaw and the countless marks they left behind?
In the months and years since the September 11 attacks, New Times traced the history of the 9/11 hijackers' time spent
preparing in Florida. They ate, slept, and exercised in Hollywood; they went to flight school across the Glades in Venice.
In fact, Mohamed Atta, bin Laden's handpicked "mastermind" for the 9/11 attacks, was detained in Miami by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS, which would later become "Immigration and Customs Enforcement" in the paranoiac swing of post-9/11 statecraft) only to be let go. Months later, he would command the flight of planes into the World Trade Center. In a multipart article, we examined this as a symptom of widespread bureaucratic intelligence failures.
In the state of raw, shaky vigilance after the attacks, some undeserving suspects were collateral damage -- like Manny Ebaid, whom we profiled here.
We were back in 2007 with a tale of Atta's fork: a utensil that purportedly found its way into the terrorist's mouth at a restaurant in Hollywood.
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On September 11, 2009, we gave you a picture tour of Atta's stops in Broward, including where he had slept and rented cars.
This execution isn't the definite end of anything, but it's another way to mark time, a cutoff point to ten years of anger and confusion about how anyone who oversaw such great cruelty could go free and undetected in a modern world. But there were others out there, with similar ideas. Some of them were here. Some of them have been caught or killed. Who knows how many haven't?