Missile Attack: the Backlash

Terrorist mastermind gets a credibility boost

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WASHINGTON: The war on terrorism is far from over. American embassies and airports across the world are bracing themselves for possible revenge attacks Friday, after U.S. cruise missiles stirred up a hornet's nest of fury and failed to blunt the power of the prime suspect in the Africa embassy bombings. While there's overwhelming support in the States, most Islamic nations are outraged. Sudan is lodging a complaint with the U.N., and gunmen in Afghanistan have opened fire on U.N. officials. Pakistani officials retracted an earlier claim that one missile hit inside their territory, but withdrew none of their indignation.

Special Report And what of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born millionaire whose bases were the target of Thursday's strike? He seems to have done well out of the whole deal. "The attack has actually boosted his image in the Islamic world," reports TIME's New Delhi bureau chief Tim McGirk, "by creating the impression that the U.S. failed to get him." Not only can bin Laden's low-tech terrorist training camps be easily rebuilt, but the Afghan Taliban has become "even more vehement in their determination to protect him." When the dust settles, will America's attack have backfired? Maybe -- but with the memory of those embassy bombs still fresh, as Madeleine Albright said, "we would have been crazy not to follow up."