Bin Laden's death draws cheers, relief, dismay

By Deb Riechmann

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 2 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

United States military troops watch the announcement by President Barack Obama that Osama bin Laden had been killed, at the USO at Kandahar Airfield, southern Afghanistan, Monday, May 2, 2011.

Kevin Frayer, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — 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."

Outside the iconic Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India — one of the sites of the 2008 terror seige that killed 166 — the news was met by disbelief and relief.

"It's a good feeling there is one terrorist less," said Sufyan Khan, a 20-year-old Muslim student. "It gives a sign the world is a little safer than before."

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-Jordan 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 and called the strike against bin Laden 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.

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