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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden dead

Nearly 10 years after the traumatic Sep 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, the world's most wanted terrorist leader Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan. Live updates
President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in a firefight during an operation he ordered Sunday inside Pakistan, ending a 10-year manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist
President Obama confirms Osama bin Laden is dead‎
10:40 am: Major newspapers have enshrined the practice of keeping obituaries prepared for leading world figures -- and judging by the speed with which this extensive obit of Osama bin Laden appeared on the New York Times site, it must have been kept ready for the day. Here it is -- perhaps the most detailed, extensive obit of the slain al Qaeda chief that you will read today: The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism

10:35 am: Reacting to the news that Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight on a farmhouse just 50 km from Pakistan capital Islamabad, the government of India has called on Pakistan to arrest those behind the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. It is expected that the government of India will use the news to underline its refrain that Pakistan is a haven for terrorists, and demand action.

10:30 am: 
Despite the lateness of the hour -- the news of Osama's death broke on US TV shortly before midnight, and the official announcement by President Barack Obama was made around midnight -- leaders of various stripes have been reacting with joy to the news.

Former President George W Bush, who had in the aftermath of 9/11 vowed to get Osama dead or alive and whose inability to do so caused his second term as president to lose considerable luster, said "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."

Former President Bill Clinton said:
 "This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaeda's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and co-operation for our children. I congratulate the president, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaeda attacks."

Senator John McCain, Obama's Republican opponent in the 2008 presidential elections, said "I am overjoyed that we finally got the world's top terrorist. The world is a better and more just place now that Osama Bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the president and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement. But while we take heart in the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "After September 11, 2001, we gave our word as Americans that we would stop at nothing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. After the contribution of millions, including so many who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, we have kept that word. The killing of Osama Bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation - and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation. 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."

10:20 am: 
What is the possible impact on the global terrorist movement of the death of Osama bin Laden? That will form the focus of much analysis in the coming hours, but as we wait for the experts to weigh in, here's a piece worth reading by Tony Karon of Time magazine. A quote:

"But where killing or capturing Bin Laden might once have been imagined to be a decisive turning point in a struggle between the U.S. and its challengers in the Muslim world, today, the death of America's erstwhile nemesis is little more than an historical footnote -- a settling of accounts for a spree of ugly crimes and the elimination of a symbol of global jihadist nihilism, perhaps, offering justice and closure for the victims of 9/11 and other atrocities. But it does little to alter the challenges facing the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan or any other major country in the Muslim world. That's because much to his chagrin, Bin Laden and his movement have achieved only marginal  relevance to power struggles throughout the Muslim world. The strategy of spectacular acts of a terror had briefly allowed a band of a few hundred desperadoes to dominate America's headlines and its nightmares, but on the ground in the Muslim world al-Qaeda had largely been a sideshow, failing miserably in its goal of rallying the Islamic world behind its banners and finding itself eclipsed by such despised rivals in the battle for Islamist leadership as Iran, Hizballah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood."

10:15 am
: CNN reports that neither Pakistan president Zardari nor other members of the political and military hierarchy was informed about the operation because of the high level of distrust the US has, particularly with relation to the ISI.

10: 10 am: 
Abbottabad, where is located the farmhouse Osama bin Laden was hiding out in, is located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakthunkhwa province in Pakistan. It is located just 50 km northeast of Islamabad and, significantly, is home to several key Pakistan military establishments. These two factors put together has analysts suggesting that despite public protestations that it did not know where Osama was, the Pakistan establishment was actively aiding and abetting the al Qaeda leader's attempts to stay out of reach of US authorities.

10: 05 am: Reports indicate that one of Osama's sons -- his identity has not yet been revealed -- was killed along with the al Qaeda leader. Also believed killed are an undisclosed number of al Qaeda personnel believed to be couriers relaying messages from Osama to the terrorist network's leadership.

9:55 am: The United States State Department has sent out alerts to all its embassies worldwide, asking for increased vigilance against possible reprisals. The alerts, it is believed, where sent out before the news of Osama's death was made public.

9:50 am: As details of the killing of Osama bin Laden continue to come in, analysts point out that the news has two immediate implications. Firstly, the fact that Osama has been hiding in plain sight, in a well guarded compound in Abbottabad, just about an hour and a half outside of the Pakistan capital Islamabad, casts doubt on the Pakistan political-military hierarchy -- this is not the tribal regions, analysts say; Osama does not have a network here, and if he was living on this farmhouse for months, it had to be with the knowledge and support of senior members of the Pakistan military and political hierarchy.

Equally importantly, analysts point out, as Pakistanis wake to the news of a US military operation on Pakistan soil, both the Pakistan military and the US will have to brace for a backlash. After a couple of weeks of relative quiet, last week saw the Pakistan Taliban step up operations; in three different bomb attacks on buses carrying Pakistan naval personnel, at least four were killed and several dozen wounded.

9:40 am: 
In course of his speech, President Obama said he had first received credible intelligence regarding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden as of August last year. "Finally, last week I determined we had enough intelligence to take action," he said, adding that at his direction, an operation was launched to attack the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama was believed hiding in a luxurious mansion. Osama was killed in the resulting firefight involving a tight group of US commandos, Obama confirmed, adding that no US military personnel, or other civilians, were killed in the attack. "Justice has been done," the president said.

9:35 am: 
In course of his speech, Obama said "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's struggle to defeat al Qaeda. We must and will remain vigilant at home and abroad." He also took care to dissociate Osama from Islam, saying the "US is not and never will be at war with Islam." Osama was not, the president pointed out, a Muslim leader; he was rather "a mass murderer" whose victims had included hundreds of thousands of Muslims. 
Even as he spoke, crowds swelled outside Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington DC, with the focus being the open space in front of the White House. Carrying US flags, the crowds sang the Star Spangled Banner and We are the Champions.
9:30 am: US analysts, in immediate reactions to the news that Osama is dead, say the killing of the al Qaeda head will have more "iconic" than "practical" value. It has been a long time, analysts say, since Osama was actively involved in planning al Qaeda strikes, and therefore the killing of Osama does not automatically mean that the terrorist organization is crippled. However, they point out, Osama has a halo effect for the organization, with many flocking to al Qaeda ranks simply because of the image of its founder. To that extent, they say, the killing of Osama will have a dampening effect in a symbolic, if not a real, sense. Analysts also said that the US and allies will now likely be doubly vigilant, as the prospect of retaliatory attacks cannot be ruled out.

9:25 am: 
Even as President Obama confirmed the news that US counter terrorism personnel had killed Osama bin Laden and family members in a firefight at a location outside Islamabad, Pakistan, hundreds of Americans, mostly young people, began gathering outside the White House, waving US flags and celebrating the killing of the man held responsible for the 9/11 terrorist strikes on the World Trade Center and other locations.

9:20 am: 
Would like to thank the intelligence personnel and officials involved in the operations for their relentless efforts, said Obama.

9:18 am: 
Mr Obama said after "a firefight" US forces took possession of his body.

9:16 am: 
The death of Mr. Bin Laden is a huge punctuation in the American-led war on terrorism. What remains to be seen is whether the death of the leader of Al Qaeda galvanizes his followers by turning him into a martyr, or whether it serves as a turning of the page in the war in Afghanistan and gives further impetus to the Obama administration to bring American troops home.
9:15 am: A crowd outside the White House in Washington, cheer Sunday, May 1, 2011, upon hearing the news that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is dead.

9:13 am:
 The fate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda number two in command, was unclear.

9:10 am: US launched a targeted an operation at the mansion outside Islamabad. There has been no casualty of US or civilians in the operation. After a fire fight at the mansion, Osama Bin Laden was killed, said Obama.

9:05 am: US President Barack Obama has confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden

9:00 am: 
Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush made capturing Bin Laden a key national security priority. Obama has called the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan the “epicenter of violent extremism,” where he said al-Qaeda leader bin Laden was hiding. 

8:50 am: 
It is believed that bin Laden was killed in a mansion not far from Islamabad, Pakistan, with members of his family.
8:45 am: Obama will deliver the news to the nation in an address from the White House, almost 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks that bin Laden orchestrated. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. assets in a mansion outside Islamabad, Pakistan, along with other members of his family, an official said.

8: 30 am: A US administration official said that Osama's body is in US custody.

8:30 am: Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead and US President Barack Obama is to make a statement shortly, CNN reported Monday.

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