Bin Laden's death in raid sparks relief, outrage
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan -- News of Osama bin Laden's death stirred strong emotions Monday, from a profound sense of relief across much of the globe to outrage among sympathizers who vowed to avenge the al-Qaida leader.
Most world leaders welcomed President Barack Obama's announcement of the helicopter raid on a compound in Pakistan, congratulating the U.S. for killing bin Laden or expressing satisfaction that the search for the world's most wanted terrorist was over.
"This is the fate that evil killers deserve," said outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, deploring the harm that bin Laden did to "the image of Islam and Arab causes."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed "the tenacity of the United States" in its hunt for the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks while Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi called his death a "great result in the fight against evil."
Spontaneous, celebratory rallies broke out in New York City at ground zero, where the World Trade Center towers fell nearly 10 years ago, and outside the White House where Obama announced bin Laden's death.
"Here in New York, it is impossible not to be reminded of the murderous legacy of Osama bin Laden," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said while on a visit to the city. "He and the al-Qaida network have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people across the world, including the Arab world."
Ashton said "we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to completely disable the al-Qaida network, as the threat of retaliatory action remains serious."
In Afghanistan, where bin Laden was given refuge by the country's previous Taliban rulers, local officials erupted in applause when President Hamid Karzai told them the news.
His hands "were dipped in the blood of thousands and thousands of children, youths and elders of Afghanistan," Karzai said, and repeated his claim that that the fight against terrorism should not be fought in Afghan villages, but across the border in hide-outs in Pakistan where bin Laden was killed.
But others in the war-torn nation disagreed about bin Laden's legacy.
"He was like a hero in the Muslim world," said Sayed Jalal, a rickshaw driver in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. "His struggle was always against non-Muslims and infidels, and against superpowers."
At the site of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, a man who lost his eyesight in the attack prayed in front of a wall commemorating those killed.
"This is a day of great honor to the survivors and victims of terrorism in the world," Douglas Sidialo said. "A day to remember those whose lives were changed forever. A day of great relief to us victims and survivors, to see that bin Laden has been killed."
But Brian Deegan, a lawyer from the southern Australian city of Adelaide, felt a "cold shiver" rather than relief when learning about bin Laden's death on a car radio. He lost his 21-year-old son Josh in al-Qaida-linked bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in 2002.
"I don't gain any satisfaction in his death -- nothing will bring Josh back to me," Deegan said.
The Vatican said Christians could never rejoice about the death of any human being. But spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said bin Laden was responsible for having caused the deaths of countless innocents and for having used religion to spread "division and hatred among people."
Outside the iconic Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India -- one of the sites of the 2008 terror siege that killed 166 -- some people didn't believe bin Laden was dead. Others said killing him had made the world a little safer.
"It's a good feeling there is one terrorist less," said Sufyan Khan, a 20-year-old Muslim student.
Elsewhere, those who followed or sympathized with bin Laden expressed shock and dismay, or vowed revenge.
"My heart is broken," Mohebullah, a Taliban fighter-turned-farmer in eastern Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview. "In the past, we heard a lot of rumors about his death, but if he did die, it is a disaster and a black day."
Salah Anani, a Palestinian-Jordan militant leader accused of links to al-Qaida, said "There will be soon be another leader."
A top al-Qaida ideologue going by the online name "Assad al-Jihad2" posted a long eulogy for bin Laden on extremist websites and promised to "avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam."
Bin Laden's former sister-in-law, Swiss-born Carmen Binladin, said he would have wanted to die "rather than face justice in an American court."
She said his family in Saudi Arabia will have received the news of his death with "a great sense of sadness."
U.S. embassies and Americans across the globe were on alert for possible reprisals. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said a "backlash" from al-Qaida sympathizers could not be ruled out. British embassies reviewed their security, and the government advised citizens to stay vigilant and avoid demonstrations or large crowds.
"The world's most wanted international terrorist is no more, but the death of bin Laden does not represent the demise of al-Qaida affiliates and those inspired by al-Qaida, who have and will continue to engage in terrorist attacks," said Ronald Noble, the head of the international police agency Interpol.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called bin Laden's death "a resounding victory for justice, for freedom and for the shared values of all democratic countries that fight shoulder to shoulder against terror."
The leader of the Palestinian militant Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, condemned the killing, saying the operation marked "the continuation of the American oppression and shedding of blood of Muslims and Arabs."
Venezuela, which often criticizes U.S. policy, also offered a voice of dissent. Vice president Elias Jaua told state-run television it was "questionable from a human point of view to celebrate killing as an instrument for resolving problems."
Peruvian President Alan Garcia gave part of the credit to former U.S. President George W. Bush, saying it was his decision "to punish bin Laden and patiently continue this work that has borne fruit."
A leading Colombian human rights activist, Rep. Ivan Cepeda, lamented that the "war on terror" that led to bin Laden's demise "was carried out without respecting international human rights."
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called the strike against bin Laden "an act of justice to those Kenyans who lost their lives and the many more who suffered injuries" in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks blamed on al-Qaida killed 224 people and injured thousands.
In Iraq, the former epicenter for al-Qaida's war against the U.S., both Shiite and Sunni civilians celebrated bin Laden's death.
"The crimes committed by al-Qaida against the Iraqi people as well as other people all over the world, shows that this terrorist group poses a clear danger to the world's security," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
Al-Qaida linked groups like the Islamic State of Iraq were responsible for some of the most heinous crimes committed in the country. As recently as last fall, the Islamic State of Iraq, using at least some fighters from abroad, raided a Baghdad church, killing 68 people.
"We are very happy to hear about the killing of the boss of terrorism in the world," said Mardin Yalda, 45, who survived the horrific siege. "During his life, bin Laden was the source of suffering and agony for many innocent people, whether Christians or Muslims."
Several Muslims said bin Laden's death will help restore the image of Islam as a religion of peace, not violence and radicalism.
"Bin Laden's acts robbed us of freedom to talk and move around," said Mohammad al-Mansouri, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. "He turned us into targets at home and suspects in every foreign country we traveled to."
Others said the al-Qaida leader should have been brought to justice instead of killed.
"Osama bin Laden has been responsible for preaching hatred and using terrorism to kill innocent people around the world and it would have been more suitable for him to be captured alive and put on trial in an international court," said Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim organization in Britain.
NATO called bin Laden's death a "significant success" and said the alliance, with 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, would make sure the country "never again becomes a safe haven for extremism."
But Russia's ambassador to NATO downplayed bin Laden's significance, saying the al-Qaida leader "was only a symbol" who had long since retired and been replaced by younger commanders.
Security analysts questioned whether the fact that bin Laden was found in a compound about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Pakistani capital could complicate relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.
"He's the world's most wanted man but he didn't seem to be Pakistan's most wanted man," said Gareth Price, a researcher at Chatham House in London. "Why had Pakistan not spotted he is living in a nice tourist resort just outside Islamabad?"
Pakistan's High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, insisted that his nation was not aware of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad.
"Had we known it we would have done it ourselves," Hasan told the BBC.