With the killing of Osama bin Laden, a significant strategic and symbolic blow was dealt to al-Qaeda and its network of affiliated terrorist organizations. The cache of intelligence obtained during the raid on bin Laden’s compound revealed the terrorist mastermind to be an active and integral player in the engineering of al-Qaeda’s ongoing attempts to wreak havoc against the West.

The long-term implications of having killed bin Laden are no doubt favorable to the ongoing efforts of the United States and our allies to contain and eradicate the jihadi threat. But what of the short-term implications?

Bin Laden’s death will most surely spark a dash among al-Qaeda affiliates or individual acolytes determined to avenge his death or prove their worth in ascending to the forefront of the global jihadi movement.

Terrorist organizations such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), both of which promulgate the twisted jihadi narrative that bin Laden avowed, have spoken of their continued resolve to attack the United States and its broader interests in the wake of bin Laden’s death.

In speaking of bin Laden, Abu al-Fida, a leading member of AQAP, stated, “He has always longed for martyrdom. However, this will not harm Al-Qaeda or its followers. It will mark a new chapter in our war against America and its allies.”

In the same vein, al-Qaeda issued a statement urging retaliation and leaving the United States with an ominous threat. “His blood will be turned into a curse that will haunt Americans and their allies.”

Now is the time for Americans to remain resolute in the global war against terrorists. The domestic law enforcement community, along with the broader citizenry, should remain vigilant in observing and uncovering the seedlings of retaliatory attacks on the homeland.

Areas of popular interest or sites within the nation’s identified critical infrastructure are particularly vulnerable as al-Qaeda seeks nothing more than to demonstrate its continued relevance in the wake of its leader’s death.

Combating terrorism is a zero-sum game. When terrorists are successful, elements within the broader counterterrorism community have necessarily failed. As complacency often accompanies great success, it is necessary to resist those inclinations. In the aftermath of our nation’s historic triumph in the killing of bin Laden, the domestic counterterrorism community can ill afford a descent into complacency. Now more than ever, resolve must carry the day.

Scott Erickson has worked in the field of law enforcement for the past decade and holds both his B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice Studies. He is a contributor to The Daily Caller and writes on myriad political, national security, and counterterrorism issues. His blog can be found at www.scottgerickson.com.

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