Bin Laden’s death draws cheers, relief, dismay around world
Monday, May 2, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan (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 twin towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001 and outside the White House where President Barack Obama made the historic announcement. Meanwhile, U.S. embassies across the globe were placed on high alert because of possible reprisals for the death of the man who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks.
Filipino Cookie Micaller, whose sister perished at the World Trade Center, wept in the Philippine capital Monday when she heard Obama on the radio announcing the killing of bin Laden.
“This is justice,” Micaller said, but added that terrorist attacks would continue: “I don’t think this is going to stop.”
“Hopefully, this will bring closure to the families of the victims, but you know, when somebody in your family dies in that way, there will never be any closure.”
In Tokyo, small business owner Takuma Kajiura welcomed the news as a way of weakening terrorist groups, but expressed dismay at how Americans erupted in celebration.
“I’m surprised that there is no separation of politics and religion in the U.S. in the 21st century,” said Kajiura, 39. “The U.S. acts as the international cop and plays the key role among the G-7 and G-8 developed countries. But it is still waging a war of religion.”
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, but added that Australians will share his relief over the news.
“It does show that persons who exact horrific crimes on others on such a mass scale, even in this enormous world of ours, they can run and they can hide, but eventually they will be found,” Deegan said.
Hardline sympathizers of Bin Laden expressed shock and dismay at the news, with many saying it could not be believed until formally confirmed by the terrorist network.
“How, why, when? I don’t believe it,” said one dazed subscriber, Mullah Faisal, on popular Jihadi website Muslm.net. “I ask God to keep his servant safe and keep him away from the eyes of the infidels.”
A spokesman for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan said the insurgent group was waiting for complete information on what happened in Pakistan before issuing any comment. “Wait for a bit so I can get the information,” Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press in a text message.
Bin Laden’s death would not change the military strategy in eastern Afghanistan, where al-Qaida figures have operated, said Lt. Col. Patrick Seiber, a spokesman for U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.
In recent weeks, the U.S-led coalition has reported killing more than 25 al-Qaida leaders and fighters, including senior al-Qaida leader, Abu Hafs al-Najdi, killed in an April 13 airstrike in Kunar province. He was the coalition’s No. 2 targeted insurgent in Afghanistan.
“This is welcome news, but it doesn’t really change our mission here,” Seiber said. “We’re still fighting the fight here in Afghanistan.”
In southern Afghanistan, where bin Laden once had his headquarters, U.S. troops were subdued. About 20 American service members gathered inside a large USO tent at Kandahar Air Field to watch a live broadcast of Obama’s speech. There were no cheers or fist-pumps. When the speech was over, they switched the channel back to a major league baseball game.
“This kind of shows the American people that the soldiers here didn’t die in vain,” said Spc. Joshu Coffman, 30, of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, who watched the news at Bagram Air Field, about an hour’s drive northeast of Kabul.
“It may give some families some closure.”
Chairul Akbar, secretary general of the anti-terrorism agency in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation and a frequent al-Qaida target — expressed jubilation about the news. Attacks blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants have killed more than 260 people in Indonesia, many of them foreign tourists.
“We welcome the death of one of the world’s most dangerous men and highly appreciate the United States’ help in crushing this global enemy,” he said. “He couldn’t be allowed to live. He helped spread a dangerous ideology all over the world, including in Indonesia.”
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.
“But I don’t think terrorism will stop with his death,” Saradj said. “As long as there is oppression and injustice against Muslims in Palestine it will continue.”
Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, Hadid Diaa in Cairo, Egypt, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Kristin Hall at Bagram, Afghanistan, and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.
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