It still rankles—a lot—that Osama bin Laden is still out there. When the attacks happened, and in the days and weeks that followed, lots of notions flew through my mind, most of them wild and fanciful or flat-out insane. But it genuinely never occurred to me to that the main architect of the attacks would still be at large eight years later.
I was fortunate that I didn't lose anyone close to me in the attack. However, a close friend's father worked in the Pentagon, and while he was safe, I remember the dread and worry until I found out. (Obviously, this worry and dread were far worse for her than me, but I was still distinctly worried for her.) I was also an RA in my college dorm at the time, at a school with a high percentage of people from DC and NYC.
But we also heard tons of rumors, about bombs in the Cleveland Airport or warships in the Hudson/Potomac/Mississippi/Ohio river. None of these were true; most were probably crazy. But they were believable that day. Anything was.
Except, perhaps, what was to actually come. A war would come, certainly, even though many of those I went to school with reflexively opposed any use of American military. But that we would, while still fighting a war in Afghanistan go on to fight a country that had nothing to do with the attacks, diverting most of our attention, men, and material, was unthinkable. That we would spend 8 years attempting to put a state together in Afghanistan was also unthinkable.
And that Osama bin Laden would still be free was completely unthinkable.
Central Asia is not a focus of this blog. I'm not an Afghanistan expert, nor an expert on Islam. But, today, it bears thinking and writing about.