Published May 02, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan -- News of Usama 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 Qaeda leader.
Most world leaders welcomed President Barack Obama's announcement of the deadly raid on a compound in Pakistan, congratulating the U.S. for killing bin Laden or expressing relief 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, 2001 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 slaying in a helicopter raid in Pakistan.
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 told reporters.
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 told AP Television News. "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 Qaeda-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.
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.
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, 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-Jordan militant leader accused of links to Al Qaeda, said "There will be soon be another leader."
A top Al Qaeda 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, told The Associated Press that 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 over the death of bin Laden. Other Western countries also called for vigilance.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said a "backlash" from Al Qaeda 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 Qaeda affiliates and those inspired by Al Qaeda, 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."
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki noted that the killing of bin Laden came nearly 13 years after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks blamed on Al Qaeda that killed 225 people and injured thousands.
"His killing is an act of justice to those Kenyans who lost their lives and the many more who suffered injuries," Kibaki said.
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."
Some Muslims said bin Laden should have been captured to stand trial instead of killed.
"Usama 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 educational group in Britain.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called bin Laden's death a "significant success" and said NATO allies, who have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, "will continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security."
But Russia's ambassador to NATO downplayed the significance of bin Laden's death, saying the Al Qaeda leader "was only a symbol" who had long since retired and been replaced by younger commanders.
Northeast of Kabul, 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.
Karzai, the Afghan president, 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.
Security analysts questioned whether the fact that bin Laden was found in a compound about 60 miles 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. "The Americans knew it and they carried out the operation themselves and they killed Usama bin Laden and then later our president of Pakistan was informed that the operation was successful, and that's it."