Bin Laden killing brings anger, relief in Arab world
Those who revered him prayed the news was not true
but many in the Arab world felt the death of Osama bin Laden was long
Some said the killing of the Saudi-born al-Qaeda founder in
Pakistan was scarcely relevant any more, now that secular uprisings have begun
toppling corrupt Arab autocrats who had resisted violent Islamist efforts to
weaken their grip on power.
US President Barack Obama
announces the death of Bin
“Oh God, please make this news not
true ... God curse you, Obama,” said a message on a Jihadist forum in some of
the first Islamist reaction to the al-Qaeda leader's death. “Oh Americans ... it
is still legal for us to cut your necks.”
For some in the Middle East,
Bin Laden has been seen as the only Muslim leader to take the fight against
Western dominance to the heart of the enemy — in the form of the September 11
attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.
On the streets of Saudi
Arabia, Bin Laden's native land which stripped him of his citizenship after
September 11, there was a mood of disbelief and sorrow among many.
feel that it is a lie,” said one Saudi in Riyadh. He did not want to be named.
“I don't trust the US government or the media. They just want to be done with
his story. It would be a sad thing if he really did die. I love him and in my
eyes he is a hero and a jihadist.”
Officials in the country of his birth
maintained near silence at the news of bin Laden's death. The state news agency
merely noted that Washington and Pakistan had announced it.
Arab states also eschewed comment.
Another strand of opinion believes that Bin Laden and al-Qaeda
brought catastrophe on their Muslim world as the United States retaliated with
two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the word ‘Islam’ became associated with
“The damage Bin Laden had caused Islam is beyond appalling
and a collective shame,” said another Saudi, Mahmoud Sabbagh, on
Another, anonymous, Saudi said: “He might have had a noble idea
to elevate Islam but his implementation was wrong and caused more harm than
good. I believe his death will calm people down and may dry up the wells of
In Yemen, Bin Laden's ancestral home and the base for
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has been behind recent foiled
anti-American attacks, some believed his death would cause his group to lose
“Al-Qaeda is finished without Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda members will not
be able to continue,” said Ali Mubarak, a Yemeni man in his 50s as he sipped tea
in a cafe in Sanaa.
For many Arabs, inspired by the popular upheavals of
the past few months, the news of Osama bin Laden's death had less significance
than it once might have.
“The death of Osama is coming at a very
interesting time. The perfect time, when al-Qaeda is in eclipse and the
sentiments of freedom are rising,” said Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi commentator and
Recalling the mass demonstrations on Cairo’s Tahrir
Square, he added: “The people at Tahrir Square had shut down the ideas and
concepts of Bin Laden.”
Egyptian Thanaa Al-Atroushy said: “Though I am
surprised, I don't think such news will affect anything in any way. He is a man
of al Qaeda, who are known to have weird beliefs to justify killing the innocent
like those of September 11.”
Risk of retaliation
But while some hoped his death may terminate al-Qaeda, many
others believe that al-Qaeda franchises across the world would continue
campaigns against the United States.
“I am not happy at the news. Osama
was seeking justice. He was taking revenge on the Americans and what they did to
Arabs, his death to me is martyrdom, I see him a martyr,” added Egyptian Sameh
Bakry, a Suez Canal employee.
Omar Bakri, a Lebanese Sunni cleric,
mourned bin Laden as a martyr: “His martyrdom will give momentum to a large
generation of believers and jihadists.
“Al-Qaeda is not a political
party, it is a jihadist movement. Al-Qaeda does not end with the death of a
leader. Bin Laden was first the generation of the Qaeda and now there is a
second, third, fourth and fifth generation.”
In Iraq, ravaged by nearly a
decade of violence in the battle between Bin Laden and the West, some were
cautious about the circumstances in which Washington announced his
“This is the end of this play. The play about the character of Bin
Laden that was fabricated by Americans to deform the image of Islam and
Muslims,” said Ali Hussain.
“How can you can convince me that all these
years American could not kill or even reach him. Americans knew Bin Laden
suffered from health problems. Maybe he was approaching his death and they
wanted to exploit it.”
In non-Arab Iran, a sworn enemy of the United
States, some ordinary people were also sceptical of Washington's account: “Are
we sure that he has been killed?” said Tehran shopkeeper Ali Asghar Sedaghat.
“Or is it another game of the Americans?”
Celebrations in US
Thousands of people poured into the streets outside the
White House and in New York City early on Monday, waving US flags, cheering and
honking horns to Bin Laden’s death.
Residents found joy, comfort and
closure with the death of the mastermind of the September 11 plot. For many, it
was a historic, long-overdue moment.
“I never figured I'd be excited
about someone's death. It's been a long time coming,” firefighter Michael
Carroll (27) whose firefighter father died in the September 11 attacks, said in
New York. “It's finally here ... it feels good.”
At Ground Zero thousands
sang the US national anthem, popped champagne, drank from beer bottles and threw
rolls of toilet paper into the air. Another big crowd gathered in New York’s
“With all the gloom and doom around us, we all needed this.
Evil has been ripped from the world,” said Guy Madsen (49) a salesman from
Clifton, New Jersey, who drove to Lower Manhattan with his 14-year-old
Many in Times Square recalled the thousands of New Yorkers who
perished on a clear September Tuesday almost a decade ago. Some people held
pictures of loved ones who died.
‘Oh my God’
“We had to be there to celebrate with everybody else. I'm
very happy with the outcome of today's news,” said Stephen Kelley, a Gulf War
veteran and former US Marine, who said he rushed to the White House after his
wife told him the news.
College students, who were just children when the
attacks took place, turned out in huge numbers, like Jennifer Raymond (18)
wrapped in a huge US flag outside the White House.
“We were all in our
dorm rooms and everyone's Facebook was blowing up,” Raymond said. “It's like ‘Oh
my God, Osama bin Laden's dead.’ Everyone in the dorm was screaming. Everyone
decided to come to the White House.”
The celebration may well have been
the biggest crowd to gather spontaneously outside the White House since Obama's
election in November 2008.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said
in a statement: “New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my
hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved
ones on September 11 2001.”
Firefighters hold a special place in New
Yorkers' memories of September 11, as hundreds died in the collapse of the Twin
Towers while racing up flights of stairs to rescue trapped people on upper
“This is a tremendous moment, and hopefully it will bring us
together, it doesn't matter if you're Muslim or Christian or whatever,” said
Patrice McLeod, a firefighter dressed in uniform. “We'll never give
It was also a night to remember the 100 000 or so US troops deployed
in Afghanistan. Elaine Coronado (51) whose brother served a year in Afghanistan,
said that joining the crowd outside the White House was a way of showing her
support to US military families.
Donna Marsh O'Connor, who lost her
pregnant daughter in the 2001 attacks and is active in the group September 11th
Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, watched events unfold on
“Osama bin Laden is dead, and so is my daughter,” she told
Reuters. “His death didn't bring her back. We are not a family which celebrates
death, no matter who it is.”
Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this
April 1998 file photo in
1957 Osama bin Mohammad bin Awad bin Laden born in Riyadh, one
of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Awad bin LadenMohammed bin Awad bin
Laden, a wealthy businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family. There
are conflicting accounts of his precise date of birth.
1976 Studies management and economics at university in
1979 Soviet Union invades
Afghanistan. From 1984, bin Laden is involved in Peshawar-based Services Office
to support Arab volunteers arriving to fight Soviet forces.
1986 Bin Laden moves to Peshawar, begins importing arms and forms his
own small brigade of volunteer fighters.
1988 Al-Qaeda (The Base) is established as a magnet for radical
Muslims seeking a more fundamentalist brand of government in their home
countries and joined in common hatred of the United States, Israel and US-allied
1991 Bin Laden
leaves Saudi Arabia and goes into exile, having opposed the kingdom's alliance
with the United States against Iraq.
June 1993 Bin
Laden family moves to expel Osama as shareholder in its businesses, which focus
1994 Saudi Arabia, angered
by bin Laden's propaganda against its rulers, revokes his
1996 Bin Laden is forced to
leave Sudan after US pressure on its government, and goes to Afghanistan. August
1996 - Bin Laden issues a fatwa, or religious decree, that US military personnel
should be killed.
1996 US brands bin Laden as
a prime suspect in two bombings in Saudi Arabia which killed 24 US servicemen
and two Indians.
1998 Truck bombs explode at
US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killing 224, including 12
1998 President Bill Clinton
names bin Laden as America's top enemy and accuses him of being responsible for
the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings. US launches missile strikes against what
Clinton calls terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan. One destroys a
pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, whose owner denies any affiliation with bin
2000 Al-Qaeda strikes at
destroyer USS Cole, harboured at Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen sailors are
2001 Three hijacked planes
crash into major US landmarks, destroying New York's World Trade Centre and
plunging into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3 000 people are killed. In a video released later, bin Laden says the
collapse of the towers exceeded al-Qaeda's expectations.
September 17 2001 US president George Bush says bin Laden is
"Wanted: Dead or Alive".
October 7 2001 United States attacks Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, host to Bin
Laden and al-Qaeda.
December 6 2001 Anti-Taliban forces capture Bin Laden's main base in Tora Bora
mountains of eastern Afghanistan.
September 10 2002 Al-Jazeera broadcasts what it says is the voice of Bin Laden
praising the 9/11 hijackers as men who "changed the course of
2002 Al-Qaeda claims
responsibility for three suicide car bombs in Kenya which blew up the Mombasa
Paradise resort hotel, popular with Israelis, killing 15 people and wounding
2004 Bin Laden bursts into
the US election campaign in his first videotaped message in over a year to
deride Bush. January 2006 -- Bin Laden's first public message for over a year is
a bid to show he is still in command of al-Qaeda.
September 2006 Bush vows "America will find you".
September 2007 Bin Laden issues first new video for nearly three years,
telling US it is vulnerable despite its power.
May 18 2008 Bin Laden urges Muslims to break the Israeli-led blockade of the
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and fight Arab governments that deal with
2010 Bin Laden claims
responsibility for the failed December 25 bombing of a US-bound plane in an
audio tape and vows to continue attacks on the United
2010 Bin Laden threatens
al-Qaeda will kill any Americans it takes prisoner if accused September 11
planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, held by United States, is put to death,
according to an audiotape aired on al-Jazeera.
January 21 2011 Bin Laden says in an audio recording that the release of French
hostages held in Niger by al-Qaeda depends on France's soldiers leaving Muslim
2011 Osama bin Laden is
killed in a million-dollar compound in the resort of Abbottabad, 60km north of
the Pakistani capital Islamabad. - Reuters