Afghanistan's President Karzai and Pakistan's PM Gilani inspect an honour guard in Kabul

Afghanistan's President Karzai and Pakistan's PM Gilani inspect an honour guard in Kabul (April 16, 2011)

Kim Barker, author of "The Taliban Shuffle" and a former Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent, shares her thoughts on what the death of Osama bin Laden means for the war on terror.

Q

What were your initial feelings when you heard the U.S. had killed Osama bin Laden?

A

My initial feelings were that we (as Americans) think much more about Osama bin Laden and his role in al-Qaida than people over there do. This was a major symbolic victory for America, and it will have a morale and logistical effect on al-Qaida, at least in the short term. But al-Qaida hasn't been seen as a factor in Afghanistan and Pakistan for a long time.

Q

Were you surprised by where he was found?

A

I thought, wow, Abbottabad? That is not some big city where he could disappear easily. There is an army base and training compound there. It is where men who have been in the Pakistani army go to retire. To say that you wouldn't notice a 6-foot-6-inch guy walking around in a compound for six years is a stretch of the imagination. I believe the leadership of the (Pakistani intelligence) and army are on the West's side, but this does raise questions.

Q

How does this change the points you make in the book?

A

I don't think it changes any of the points I make in the book. This war has never been about one man.

Q

What does this change as far as the war goes?

A

It doesn't change anything. We are not fighting al-Qaida; we are fighting a very different beast. In terms of what this does to al-Qaida, we will have to wait and see. Al-Qaida has never had to go through a leadership transition.

Q

How will this affect President Barack Obama's administration and the American opinion of the war?