Monday, May 2, 2011

Jubilation and fear: Iraq responds to bin Laden death

Baghdad, May 2 (AKnews) – Amid scenes of jubilation at the death of Osama bin Laden, Iraq has tightened security measures as fears of reprisal attacks grow.
Osama bin Laden
US President, Barak Obama, announced today that the al Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by US forces.

Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki's, office said "strict security measures have been taken in preparation for reactions" by al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq, saying that they could not rule out a wave of attacks.

However, assurances were offered: "Al Qaeda is not able to carry out attacks in Iraq in the way it used to due to suffering from a financial crisis and failure to recruit militants. Bin Laden's death will in the long run have positive effects on Iraqi stability."

"However, his death does not mean the end of al-Qaeda, though it will be greatly weakened"

Mohammed Najem, an academic from Baghdad, said he feared that al Qaeda militants with "no principals or goals except destruction and killing" might strike back on Iraqi soil.

Al-Qaeda has been actively operating in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians, police and soldiers.

However, some Iraqis have been celebrating his death by handing out sweets to friends and family and expressing their joy.

"Bin Laden killed, the murderer of Iraqis and mankind has been killed. Today is a feast day, today is happiness" shouted one Iraqi citizen, Haitham Samie, while running through the streets of Baghdad distributing sweets.

"I lost a brother and one of my friends, both were killed by al-Qaeda militants; they had not done anything any wrong. This organization has killed and left hundreds homeless, why should I not run about in joy?" he said.

Ali Mohammed al Bakri, a lawyer said: "Bin Laden's death is the victory of mankind as a whole."

Bin Laden was accused of masterminding a number of attacks on civilians around the world. The most notable of which were the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001 where 3,000 people were killed. He topped the US "most wanted" list.

President Obama , speaking at the White House, said: "We must also reaffirm that United states is not and will never be at war against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, in fact, he slaughtered many Muslims."

A US official warned its citizens traveling abroad to be wary of "enhanced potential for anti-American violence".

Bin Laden had managed to evade the coalition of western forces for almost a decade, despite a US$25 million bounty on his head. It is not known why he moved down from the mountains on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he was suspected of hiding, to Abbottabad a city only 100km north of Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

By Raber Y. Aziz, contributions by Haidar Ibrahim and Bradost Lawin. Edited by Patrick Smith. (AKnews)

02/05/2011 14:10