The violent death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday will likely diminish the appeal of radical Islam in the Middle East but still leaves problems to be solved, said professors at the University of Wyoming.
Marianne Kamp, UW history professor, will be watching how the al-Qaeda leader's death in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Sunday at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals will affect U.S.-Pakistani relations. Kamp, who teaches about the Middle East, said bin Laden's death "may take some of the fire and romance" out of the terrorist movement that bin Laden helped create and lead for more than 15 years.
"I wouldn't expect something humongous, but the idea this guy who has lived sort of elusive and invincible for 10 years can actually be caught and his life ended might make the whole enterprise look a little less attractive," Kamp said.
She said Bin Laden has been the movement's brand name and key icon since 1996. If someone steps up to take his place, he won't be more than a "pale imitation."
She said the Middle East has been moving away from radical Islam, evidenced by the number of secular uprisings in a number of Arab countries in the past few months. The event could improve relations with Pakistan, where many people are against troops in their country.
"They view it as a U.S. encroachment on their sovereignty," Kamp said. "It'll be really interesting to see how the Pakistani political leadership deals with this and tries to turn it into an advantage for themselves rather than a disadvantage."
Bin Laden's death has great implications for U.S. foreign policy, said Jean Garrison, professor of foreign relations at UW. The past three U.S. presidents had the same goals, Garrison said. Since September 11, 2001, bin Laden has been a symbol of violence and extremism in the U.S., and his death generated a national sense of relief.
"We hope it takes some of the steam out of some of the more extremist elements of the region," Garrison said. "There's a sense of relief and a sense of closure on that chapter, but there's still a lot going on and we're still just as involved as we were yesterday."
Garrison hopes the event leads to a clear-eyed view of involvement in the region and strategies necessary for resolution of the region's conflicts.
Being finals week at UW, professors did not discuss the event in class, but Garrison said there is much to learn.
"There are other messages here," Garrison said. "It shows commitment to a goal. It also took 10 years."
Star-Tribune capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer contributed to this story.