Isnin, 2 Mei 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates


Bin Laden killing brings anger, relief in Arab world

Posted: 02 May 2011 06:54 AM PDT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - 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 overdue.

Anti-government protestor watches a television broadcasting a report about the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in a tent at the site of a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa May 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

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.

"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 Sept. 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 Sept. 11, there was a mood of disbelief and sorrow among many.

"I feel that it is a lie," said one Saudi in Riyadh. He did not want to be named. "I don't trust the U.S. 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.

Other Gulf Arab states also eschewed comment.

"HARMED ISLAM"

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 "terrorism".

"The damage bin Laden had caused Islam is beyond appalling and a collective shame," said another Saudi, Mahmoud Sabbagh, on Twitter.

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 terrorism."

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 heart.

"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 independent analyst.

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 Sept. 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 death.

"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?"

(Additional reporting by Middle East bureaux)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Pakistani hill town astonished by bin Laden's death

Posted: 02 May 2011 06:54 AM PDT

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Residents of the Pakistani town of Abbottabad were jolted from their sleep on Sunday night by the boom of explosions, unaware the hunt for the world's most wanted man was coming to a bloody end in their sleepy hills.

The compound, within which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, is seen in flames after it was attacked in Abbottabad in this still image taken from video footage from a mobile phone May 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Helicopter-borne U.S. forces swooped on a compound on the edge of Abbottabad in the middle of the night and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was hiding there, nine and a half years after he masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We rushed to the rooftop and saw flames near that house. We also heard some gunshots," said Mohammad Idrees, who lives about 400 metres from the compound.

"Soon after the blast, we saw military vehicles rushing to the site."

Pakistani soldiers stopped reporters approaching the compound, which was surrounded by a fabric or canvas screen.

A helicopter covered by a tarpaulin sat in a nearby field, guarded by Pakistani soldiers. U.S. officials earlier said a U.S. helicopter was lost due to a mechanical problem during the operation but that its crew safely evacuated.

Bin Laden's residence, called a mansion by U.S. officials, stood fourth in a row of about a dozen houses. A satellite dish was perched on the roof of the house, which was surrounded by high walls.

Television pictures from inside the house showed blood stains smeared across a floor next to a bed.

Pakistani TV stations also showed a picture purportedly of bin Laden shot in the head, his mouth pulled back in a grimace. Reuters pictures editors determined the image was a fake after discovering a number of inconsistencies in the picture.

Another resident, Nasir Khan, said commandos had encircled the compound as three helicopters hovered overhead.

"All of a sudden there was firing towards the helicopters from the ground," said Khan, who watched the drama unfold from his roof.

"There was intense firing and then I saw one of the helicopters crash."

U.S. officials in Washington said a small U.S. team conducted a helicopter raid on the compound in Abbottabad, a military garrison town some 60 km (35 miles) north of the capital Islamabad. After 40 minutes of fighting, bin Laden and an adult son, one unidentified woman and two men were dead.

ASTOUNDED NEIGHBOURS

U.S. officials said security measures at the compound included outer walls up to 5.5 metres (18 feet) tall topped with barbed wire and internal walls that sectioned off different parts of the compound.

Residents said they were astounded to learn bin Laden had been in their midst. One neighbour said an old man had been living in the compound for the past 10 years.

"He never mixed much, he kept a low profile," said the neighbour, Zahoor Ahmed.

"It's hard to believe bin Laden was there. We never saw any extraordinary movements," said another neighbour, Adress Ahmed.

Abbottabad has long been a cool, leafy retreat from the heat of the Pakistan plains.

It was founded by a British army officer, James Abbott, in the mid-nineteenth century as the British were pushing the bounds of their Indian empire into the northwestern hills inhabited by Pashtun tribes.

Today, the town is home to a Pakistani military academy and its surrounding hills are dotted with summer homes.

Sohaib Athar, whose online profile says he is an IT consultant taking a break from the rat race, sent out a stream of live updates on Twitter about the movement of helicopters and blasts without realising it was a raid on bin Laden.

When he learnt who had been killed, he tweeted: "Uh oh, there goes the neighbourhood."

But it might take more to convince many people that bin Laden is dead.

One soldier on patrol near the compound said there had been talk before of bin Laden's death, only for it to be proven untrue.

"It's not clear if he was killed or not," the soldier said.

(Writing by Robert Birsel, Editing by Dean Yates)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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