World hails death of Osama bin Laden
MANILA, Philippines—The killing of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in a covert US operation is a “victory for justice” that will bring “great relief” to the world, America’s allies said on Monday. But in some parts of the globe worried residents are bracing for revenge.
Announcing the death of the planet’s most wanted man, US President Barack Obama said “justice has been done,” while his predecessor, George W. Bush, hailed it as a “momentous” achievement.
News of what Israel called the “liquidation” of Bin Laden was hailed by governments around the world, but many cautioned that the fight against extremism was not over.
And in a sign of the possible tensions to come, India lashed out at its arch-foe Pakistan, saying the al-Qaida mastermind’s killing north of Islamabad was further evidence that terrorists find “sanctuary” in the country.
Bin Laden, a figure of hate across the West for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a Pakistani compound in an operation on Sunday, Obama told a global TV audience in a dramatic late-night address.
The news was greeted with jubilation in foreign capitals, with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe calling it a “victory for all democracies fighting the abominable scourge of terrorism.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would bring great relief to people across the world. “It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror,” Cameron said in a statement.
He said Bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world had seen.
US dollar strengthens
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said: “We have woken up in a more secure world.”
A market perception that the death of Bin Laden reduced the security risks facing the United States lifted the dollar from a three-year low and raised stock index futures.
US crude oil prices also fell, but analysts said any market impact would be short-lived.
Israel, a country regarded as a bitter enemy by many Muslims who are also outraged by Western backing for it, was fulsome in its praise of the United States, its vital security ally.
“The state of Israel joins together in the joy of the American people after the liquidation of Bin Laden,” said a statement from the premier’s office.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates US President Barack Obama for this victory for justice, liberty and the common values of democratic nations which fought side by side against terrorism.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Bin Laden’s death was “good news for all men in the world who think freely and are peaceful.”
Westerwelle’s Italian counterpart Franco Frattini called it “a victory of good over evil, of justice over cruelty.”
But India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan, said news that Bin Laden had been hiding out across its border was worrying.
“We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the fire fight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbottabad ‘deep inside Pakistan,”’ Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said.
“This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organizations find sanctuary in Pakistan,” he said.
In Afghanistan, which US-led forces invaded in 2001 to root out Bin Laden and the militant Taliban, President Hamid Karzai called on the Taliban to refrain from fighting.
“The Taliban must learn a lesson from this. The Taliban should refrain from fighting,” Karzai said.
Most analysts agreed that although the killing of such an inspirational figurehead would deal a blow to his followers’ morale, Bin Laden had not had any significant practical role in the organization for years. Al-Qaida works in a decentralized way so the direct impact of Bin Laden’s death would be limited.
US military analyst Mark Kimmit said it was not the end of al-Qaida and terrorism.
He said that while al-Qaida was symbolized by Bin Laden it was more than its founder.
In Lebanon, some downplayed the relevance of Bin Laden at a time of great tumult in the Arab world, where events have seemed to overtake a figure whose deeds helped unleash two wars and greatly deepened American intervention in the Middle East.
“This man hasn’t shown his face, or made any statement in a long time despite the important developments that our region is witnessing right now,” said Talal Atrissi, a professor of sociology at the Lebanese University.
Atrissi said Bin Laden was a polarizing figure, dividing supporters who saw his attacks as another righteous battle in a contest between West and East, and others who saw his deadly acts as spectacles harming Islam.
“The division over him that we saw when he was alive will prevail after his death, though the fact the United States killed him could make some sympathize with him,” he said.
The same duality emerged in Cairo, capital of the most populous Arab nation.
Egyptians reading the website of the newspaper Seventh Day responded to the killing with mixed emotions. “I do not know if you are a fighter in the name of God or if you are a terrorist who killed many Muslims,” one reader wrote.
A few called Bin Laden a martyr. “You lived a lion and died a lion,” one wrote.
Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, said: “We condemn any killing of a holy warrior or of a Muslim and Arab person and we ask God to bestow his mercy upon him.”
But in the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Bin Laden’s death would end a “dark era.”
While their leaders were proclaiming that the world had become safer, many countries prepared their citizens for the worst.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the news was “welcome,” but cautioned: “Al-Qaida is not finished. Our war against terrorism must continue.”
Singapore, which sits in a region where the al-Qaida-inspired Jemaah Islamiyah has carried out fatal attacks, also cautioned that Bin Laden’s demise did not mean the world was safe.
“This is a significant milestone … but terrorism and the ideologies that perpetuate it, pose complex challenges. To deal with it will require continued vigilance,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Reports from Agence France-Presse, Reuters and New York Times News Service
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