May 7, 2011

In Focus: Al-Qaida acknowledges bin Laden's death

The terror organization vows to fight on without its slain leader and appears unaware that his body had been buried at sea.

By MAGGIE MICHAEL The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Barack Obama
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President Obama greets military personnel prior to addressing troops Friday at Fort Campbell, Ky. Obama also met privately with the commandos he sent after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. Obama called the bin Laden raid one of the most successful intelligence and military operations in America’s history, and said he had to come to extend personal thanks. Obama said his meeting with special operations forces “was a chance for me to say on behalf of all Americans and people around the globe, job well done, job well done.” The identities of the men who killed bin Laden are likely to remain secret forever. White House officials released few details of Friday’s meetings and would not formally confirm whether Obama actually met members of Navy SEAL Team 6, whose existence is officially classified.

The Associated Press

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The need to provide proof was behind some arguments that the United States should release a photo of the slain terror leader. President Obama has chosen to withhold the photo.

Al-Qaida also called on Pakistanis to revolt against the country's leaders to "cleanse the shame." And it said that an audio message bin Laden recorded a week before his death would be issued soon.

The writers of the al-Qaida statement appeared unaware of the U.S. announcement that bin Laden's body had been buried at sea. The statement warned against mishandling or mistreating bin Laden's body and demanded that it be handed over to his family, saying "any harm (to the body) will open more doors of evil, and there will be no one to blame but yourselves."

There had been hope that bin Laden's death would cause the Afghan Taliban to rethink its ties with al-Qaida -- a union the United States insists must end if the insurgents want to talk peace. The foundation of their relationship was believed to be rooted in bin Laden's long friendship with the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

But on Friday, the Afghan Taliban issued a statement saying bin Laden's death will only boost morale among insurgents fighting the United States and NATO.

Al-Zawahri has long been considered the operational head of al-Qaida while bin Laden was assumed to be an inspirational figure who was uninvolved in operations.

But documents Navy SEALs seized in Monday's raid on the hideout in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad suggest that bin Laden may have been more involved in operations than had been thought. The documents reveal plans for derailing an American train on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks. Counterterrorism officials said they believe the plot was in the initial planning stages at the time.

Al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has never abandoned its hope of again attacking the U.S. homeland.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, urged that the country's threat level be stepped up while the material seized from bin Laden's compound is reviewed.


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