Although there has not been much cause for celebration for our global village over the past decade, the world was able to breathe a sigh of relief at the announcement by President Barack Obama of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special operations forces at a mansion on the outskirts of Abbottabad, Pakistan.
In addition to the vast majority of Americans who are relieved by his death, there are more than 1 billion Muslims around the world who salute the fact that bin Laden's ungodly terrorist mischief has finally come to an end. Simply put, there has been no single person in nearly a millennium and a half of Muslim history who has ever hijacked our beloved religion of Islam more than bin Laden.
"We must also reaffirm that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said during his historic address Sunday. "I have made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity."
Muslims have been the greatest numerical casualties of al Qaeda and bin Laden. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point released a stunning report that said Muslims have accounted for the vast majority of the total number of casualties from al Qaeda attacks between 2004 and 2008 throughout the world.
From 2006 to 2008, 98 percent of al Qaeda's victims were from Muslim-majority countries.
During his famous June 2009 speech at Cairo University, Obama highlighted the common themes of humanity found within the three major Abrahamic religions. He said that "The holy Quran tells us, 'O mankind! We have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.' ...The Talmud tells us: 'The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.' " Finally, he said, "The holy Bible tells us, 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.' ... The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth."
The death of bin Laden will not be the end of extremism around the world, but no reasonable observer could deny the fact that this mission represented the cutting off of the al Qaeda snake's head.
Although there are certainly low-level franchisees who will try to continue to create havoc throughout the world, the importance of the killing of al Qaeda's godfather on Obama's watch cannot be emphasized enough.
The president was right: Bin Laden was not a leader of Muslims. Myself included, there were many among the 1 billion Muslims worldwide who uttered three simple words when we heard about the official confirmation of bin Laden's death.
Those three words were: "God is great."
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.
This article was published by CNN on May 2, 2011: