Fears of Qaeda vengeance after U.S. kills Osama

Mon May 2, 2011 6:59pm EDT
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By Mark Hosenball and Kamran Haider

WASHINGTON/ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - World leaders warned of revenge attacks after Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. assault in Pakistan on Monday that brought to a dramatic end the long manhunt for the al Qaeda leader who had become the most powerful symbol of Islamist militancy.

President Barack Obama declared the world was a safer and "better place" with bin Laden dead. But the euphoria that drew flag-waving crowds to "Ground Zero" of the September 11, 2001, attack in New York was tempered by calls for vigilance against retaliation by his followers.

The revelation that bin Laden had been holed up in a compound near Islamabad threatened to exacerbate U.S. tensions with nuclear-armed Pakistan, which had not been told of the raid in advance.

The White House acknowledged there was good reason for U.S. lawmakers, already doubtful of Pakistan's cooperation against al Qaeda, to demand to know whether bin Laden had been "hiding in plain sight" and to raise questions about continued U.S. aid to Islamabad.

Bin Laden was given a sea burial after Muslim funeral rites on a U.S. aircraft carrier. His shrouded body was placed in a weighted bag and eased into north Arabian Sea.

The death of bin Laden, who achieved near-mythic status for his ability to elude capture for more than a decade, closes a bitter chapter in the global fight against al Qaeda, but it does not eliminate the threat of further strikes.

Under bin Laden's leadership, al Qaeda militants struck targets from Indonesia to the European capitals of Madrid and London.

But it was the September 11, 2001, attacks, in which al Qaeda militants used hijacked planes to strike at economic and military symbols of American might and killed nearly 3,000 people, that helped bin Laden achieve global infamy.   Continued...