Sunday, May 8, 2011

Team 6 and specialized weaponry

The success of the operation to kill or capture Geronimo, aka Osama bin Laden, began years earlier with the interrogation of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was captured by U.S. forces and provided false, but useful, information regarding bin Laden’s trusted courier. In 2004, Hassan Ghul was captured and provided the name of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. More pieces came into place in 2005, when Abu Faraj al-Libi was captured. Al-Libi had lived in Abbottabad in 2003 and, when questioned, made up a false name for the courier and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti. Putting all the information together, with Ghul’s being the linchpin, led agents to realize bin Laden’s courier was Sheikh Abu Ahmed, aka al-Kuwaiti. In 2009, they began tracking him and last summer he made a phone call to a target who was being monitored. [1] The rest of the story has been front page news since May 2nd.

Navy SEALs made the critical assault on bin Laden’s compound using the best weapons available and suited for the specific mission. Although some of the information is classified, as one might expect, against bin Laden, these likely included night-vision goggles and the M4A1 Carbine, standard issue weapon for SEAL operators, which is about 30 inches with the stock retracted, carries a 30 round magazine and can be set for semi or fully automatic. Flash bangs or stun grenades may be used to disorient residents of a target location. Suppressers, which are built into many modern-day weapons, enable easier communication (without loud gunshots) and possibly more stealth advantage. Short-barrel weapons -- such as a shortened M4 or AR-15 assault rifle - allow easier maneuverability in close quarters, around doors and hallways. [2]

Osama bin Laden may have been the most influential terrorist on the planet during this generation. The efforts to stop his destructive influences have been extraordinary. Consider the financial cost, intelligence gathering, and development of highly technical equipment and weapons. As destructive as al-Qa’ida has been, do we as Christians consider the enemy who can bring even more devastation in the lives of people? Jesus told us, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). We take great precautions to protect ourselves physically from attacks with airport screening, home alarm systems, dogs, guns and so on. Do we show as much concern for our eternal souls and those of our loved ones? The true enemy of mankind is the spiritual force behind those who commit horrendous acts of evil and he has been masterminding terrorism for thousands of years.

The initial stage in the battle is identification of the enemy. As intelligence agents identified the courier and located bin Laden’s residence, those of us who are Christians identify the enemy, not as people who come against us, but the “forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). And one of the weapons we use is the “word of God” or the “sword of the Spirit” (v.17). Paul goes on to explain the manner in which we fight is to “pray at all times” (v.18).

Francis Schaeffer reminded that “We are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly, gentleman's discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ.” [3] And, Matthew Henry informed, “Every true Christian is both a labourer and a soldier, working with one hand, and fighting with the other … never putting off our armour till our work and warfare are ended.” [4]

In ancient times, Roman soldiers used a sword that was not the biggest and heaviest, but most manageable and effective. As a lesson for Christians, “The believer needs a combat knowledge of the Word of God … The sword of the Spirit and prayer are the Christian’s offensive weapons. Once we have Satan on the run, we can keep him from a counterattack by using these weapons.” [5] Are we using our weapons in the ongoing battle against the master terrorist?

[1] Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press, “Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden”, 3 May 2011, <>
[3] Francis Schaeffer, The Shelter
[4] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, Nehemiah 4:16-23.
[5] Hal Lindsey, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1972), 226-227.