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Americas

US on alert as world leaders welcome news of bin Laden’s death

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-02

As Americans celebrate the news of Osama bin Laden's death, statesmen have expressed satisfaction yet warned that the war on terror is not over. In the Arab world, however, many have reacted with sadness and disbelief.

AP - Osama bin Laden’s death drew a mix of celebration and relief from his enemies around the world, shock among his followers and warnings that his demise would not bring an end to terrorist attacks.

Spontaneous, celebratory rallies broke out in New York City at ground zero, where the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001 and outside the White House where President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s slaying in a helicopter raid in Pakistan.

« This is justice, » Filipino Cookie Micaller said in the Philippine capital, Manila, where she wept and remembered her sister who perished at the World Trade Center. She added that terrorist attacks probably would continue: « I don’t think this is going to stop. »

Hardline followers and sympathizers of Bin Laden expressed shock and dismay or vowed revenge.

« My heart is broken, » Mohebullah, a Taliban fighter-turned-farmer in Ghazni province of eastern Afghanistan, told The Associated Press 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-Jordanian militant leader accused of links to al-Qaida, said « There will be soon be another leader. »

« Obama, the killer, bragged about his so-called victory, but because he has a dead heart, he couldn’t hide the fear of what’s coming, » he said.

A top al-Qaida ideologue going by the online name « Assad al-Jihad2 » posted on extremist websites a long eulogy for bin Laden and promised to « avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam. »

U.S. embassies and Americans across the globe were on alert for possible reprisals over the death of the man who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks. Other Western countries also called for vigilance.

Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said a « backlash » from al-Qaida sympathizers could not be ruled out, while British diplomatic missions were advised to review their security, remain vigilant and avoid demonstrations and large crowds of people.

« 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 around the world, » said Ronald Noble, the head of international police agency Interpol.

World leaders congratulated the U.S. and Obama for the strike against bin Laden as a severe blow to al-Qaida, though many noted it would only weaken, not end, terrorism.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed « the tenacity of the United States » in its 10-year hunt for the al-Qaida leader while Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi called his death a « great result in the fight against evil. »

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was « a resounding victory for justice, for freedom and for the shared values of all democratic countries that fight shoulder to shoulder against terror. »

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki noted that the killing of bin Laden came nearly 13 years after the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks blamed on al-Qaida that killed 225 people.

« His killing is an act of justice to those Kenyans who lost their lives and the many more who suffered injuries, » Kibaki said.

Brian Deegan, a lawyer from the southern Australian city of Adelaide, lost his 21-year-old son Josh in al-Qaida-linked bombings on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali in 2002. He said he felt a « cold shiver » when learning about bin Laden’s death on a car radio.

« I don’t gain any satisfaction in his death - nothing will bring Josh back to me, » Deegan said.

Attacks blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants have killed more than 260 people in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Said Agil Siradj, chairman of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, said bin Laden’s death will help restore the image of Islam as one of people, not violence and radicalism.

That sentiment was echoed by moderate Muslims in other parts of the world.

But in some places there were mixed feelings.

« 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. »

In the Afghan capital, local government leaders erupted in applause when President Hamid Karzai told them the news.

« I hope that the death of Osama bin Laden will mean the end of terrorism, » Karzai said.

Speaking to reporters, Karzai said that the world’s top terrorist « received his due punishment » - that his hands « were dipped in the blood of thousands and thousands of children, youths and elders of Afghanistan. »

He also used the opportunity to chastise the U.S.-led coalition, repeating his claim that the fight against terrorism should not be fought in Afghan villages, but across the border in hideouts in Pakistan where bin Laden was killed.

Afghanistan’s previous Taliban rulers gave bin Laden refuge after he was forced out of Sudan in 1996. After Sept. 11, as the Taliban fell under pressure of the U.S. bombardment, bin Laden is believed to have fled into the inhospitable mountains in the seam that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called bin Laden’s death a « significant success » and said NATO allies, who have 150,000 troops in the country, « will continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security. »

Russia’s ambassador to NATO, however, downplayed the significance of bin Laden’s death, saying the al-Qaida leader « was only a symbol » who had long since retired and been replaced by younger commanders.

In the United Arab Emirates, where two of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist, said bin Laden had made suspects of all Arabs and Muslims.

« Bin Laden’s acts robbed us of freedom to talk and move around, » said Mohammad al-Mansouri. « He turned us into targets at home and suspects in every foreign country we traveled to. »

Ghiyath Sahloul, a Syrian citizen in the capital Damascus, called bin Laden’s death « the beginning of the end of Islamic extremism. » He said he was sorry that he was killed instead of being arrested and brought to trial. He warned of a strong backlash from al-Qaida supporters.

About an hour’s drive northeast of Kabil, U.S. troops from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, found out the news at Bagram Air Field.

« It’s really great news considering the damage he caused and what followed, » said 1st Sgt. Troy Bayliss, 39.

Date created : 2011-05-02

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