But… but… if OBL is not a Muslim leader, then why is there this need to be vigilant? Why aren’t we all at local mosques waiting for the celebration to start and the gifts of appreciation for dealing on the guy who hijacked their religion?
By Mark Hosenball and Kamran Haider
WASHINGTON/ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. assault on his Pakistani compound on Monday, then quickly buried at sea, in a dramatic end to the long manhunt for the al Qaeda leader who had become the most powerful symbol of global terrorism.
World leaders hailed bin Laden’s death but the euphoria was tempered by fears of retaliation and warnings of renewed vigilance against attacks.
The death of bin Laden, who achieved near-mythic status for his ability to elude capture under three U.S. presidents, closes a bitter chapter in the fight against al Qaeda, but it does not eliminate the threat of further attacks.
The September 11, 2001, attacks, in which al Qaeda militants used hijacked planes to strike at economic and military symbols of American might, spawned two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, inflicted damage on U.S. ties with the Muslim world that have yet to be repaired, and redefined security for air travelers.
A small U.S. strike team, dropped by helicopter to bin Laden’s compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad under the cover of night, shot dead the al Qaeda leader in a firefight, U.S. officials said.
“This was a kill operation,” one security official told Reuters, but added: “If he had waved a white flag of surrender he would have been taken alive.”
The revelation that bin Laden was living in a three-story residence in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, and not as many had speculated, in the country’s lawless western border regions, is a huge embarrassment to Pakistan, whose relations with Washington have frayed under the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama, whose popularity suffered from continuing U.S. economic woes, will likely see a short-term bounce in his approval ratings. At the same time, he is likely to face mounting pressure from Americans to speed up the planned withdrawal this July of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.