Obama: World now a safer place

Obama: World now a safer place

US President Barack Obama says the world is better and safer because of the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Speaking at the White House, President Obama said bin Laden’s death showed that the United States has kept its commitment to seeing that justice is done.

Mr Obama also praised the people gathered spontaneously at the White House and in New York to celebrate bin Laden’s death, saying that embodied the true spirit and patriotism of America.

A team of elite American forces killed bin Laden during a raid at the compound in Pakistan where the elusive terror mastermind had been hiding.

Bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and architect of the September 11 2001, attacks, was killed in a firefight. Obama administration officials said DNA evidence confirmed the death.

Bin Laden was then quickly buried at sea, an official said, in a stunning finale to a furtive decade on the run.

Long believed to be hiding in caves, bin Laden was tracked down in a costly, custom-built hideout not far from a Pakistani military academy. The stunning news of his death prompted relief and euphoria outside the White House and around the globe, yet also deepening fears of terrorist reprisals against the United States and its allies.

“Justice has been done,” President Obama said in an announcement that seemed sure to lift his own political standing.

The officials said the DNA testing alone offered a “99.9%” certainty that bin Laden was shot dead in a daring US military operation. Detailed photo analysis by the CIA, confirmation by other people at the raid site and matching physical features like bin Laden’s height all helped confirmed the identification.

A Pentagon official said a wife of bin Laden identified him by name during the US raid.

One official said there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the person killed was bin Laden.

Still, it was unclear if the world would ever get visual proof. The body was quickly buried at sea, and administration officials were weighing the merit and appropriateness of releasing a photo of bin Laden, who was shot in the head.

As spontaneous celebrations and expressions of relief gave way to questions about precisely what happened and what comes next, US officials warned that the campaign against terrorism is not nearly over – and that the threat of retaliation was real.

“The fight continues and we will never waver,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said.

Her comments had echoes of former president George W Bush’s declaration nearly a decade ago, when al-Qaida attacks against America led to war in Afghanistan and changed the way Americans viewed their own safety.

Turning to deliver a direct message to bin Laden’s followers, she vowed: “You cannot wait us out.”

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The military operation that ended bin Laden’s life took mere minutes, and there were no US casualties.

US Blackhawk helicopters ferried about two dozen troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counter-terrorism unit, into the compound identified by the CIA as bin Laden’s hideout – and back out again in less than 40 minutes. Bin Laden was shot in the head, officials said, after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault.

Three adult males were also killed in the raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida. US officials also said one woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant, and two other women were injured.

The compound is about half a mile from the Kakul Military Academy, an army-run institution for top officers and one of several military installations in the bustling, hill-ringed town of around 400,000 people.

Critics have long accused elements of Pakistan’s security establishment of protecting bin Laden, though Islamabad has always denied it, and in a statement the foreign ministry said his death showed the country’s resolve in the battle against terrorism.

The US official who disclosed the burial at sea said it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. Mr Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial.

Bin Laden’s death came 15 years after he declared war on the United States. Al-Qaida was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa that killed 224 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.

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