Bin Laden had been in hiding since he eluded U.S. forces and Afghan militia in an assault on the Tora Bora mountains of Afganistan in 2001, and had continued to taunt the West and direct militant Islamist activities from his hideout.
Relatives of the victims of subsequent al Qaeda attacks, such as suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005, also hailed bin Laden’s killing.
“I am very happy, and very well done to the Yanks, they deserve their praise,” Sean Cassidy, whose 22-year-old son Ciaran was killed in the London bombings, was quoted as saying on the BBC’s website.
In Spain, Angeles Pedraza, whose daughter was killed in a train bomb attack in Madrid on March 11, 2004 , said on state television: “One should never be happy over the death of a human being, but I will not be true to myself if I don’t tell you I am enormously happy at the death of Osama bin Laden.”
Al Qaeda first struck in east Africa in 1998, killing hundreds of people, mostly Africans, in suicide bombing at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
“Kenyans are happy and thank the U.S. people, the Pakistani people and everybody else who managed to kill Osama,” Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga told Reuters.
Amid the euphoria, however, some world leaders and security experts noted the threat of terrorism hanging over the West was far from over and called for vigilance for possible retaliation.
Some victims’ relatives also expressed caution about what bin Laden’s death might mean.
John Falding, whose partner Anat Rosenberg was killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Tavistock Square, London, told the BBC: “There are plenty more willing to fill his shoes — all those fanatical organizations have their young pretenders.”
Watching the flag-waving on television in New York, Donna Marsh O’Connor, who lost her pregnant daughter in the September 11 attack, said she, too, saw little reason to celebrate.
“Osama bin Laden is dead, and so is my daughter,” she told Reuters. “His death didn’t bring her back. We are not a family which celebrates death, no matter who it is.”