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Osama bin Laden is no Geronimo

Osama Compound

"Geronimo E-KIA." Those words were heard in the Situation Room when Osama bin Laden was killed by bullets to the head and chest. Geronimo was the code name given by U.S. officials for bin Laden; E-KIA stands for "Enemy Killed In Action."

Apparently the code namers thought of bin Laden as a 21st century equivalent of the Chiricahua Apache leader, who waged battles against the Mexico and the United States, countries engaged in colonizing Indian lands. 

Like bin Laden, Geronimo proved to be an elusive target. More than 5,000 soldiers were deployed to capture him in around 1885.

Geronimo was fighting for his land, and committed what U.S officials at the time might have called acts of terrorism, conducting raids on white settlers in Apache territory. U.S. officials said they could convict Geronimo and his fighters of murder, and exiled the outlaw Apache to Florida as a prisoner of war, never to return to his homeland.

But bin Laden was in a completely different league. The al Qaeda leader was a mass murderer, out to destroy Western civilization, not primarily to protect his lands.

 In 1998, bin Laden declared, "We--with God's help--call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson."


However, unlike bin Laden, Geronimo lived to tell his tale, and in 1905 he appeared in President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade. 

During his latter years, Geronimo converted to Christianity.

"Believing that in a wise way it is good to go to church, and that associating with Christians would improve my character, I have adopted the Christian religion... I am not ashamed to be a Christian... I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right," he wrote in his autobiography.


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