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Beware of Al-Qaeda revenge, Mideast media warn

Beware of Al-Qaeda revenge, Mideast media warn
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First Published: Tue, May 03 2011. 06 08 PM IST
Updated: Tue, May 03 2011. 06 08 PM IST
Amman: Middle East papers including in Osama bin Laden’s homeland Saudi Arabia on Tuesday hailed the Al-Qaeda chief’s death as a victory for US President Barack Obama, but they also warned of possible retaliation.
Some newspapers questioned the US special forces raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan, saying the operation could backfire on Washington, which should have arrested him instead.
The Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat printed in bold letters on its front page: “The killer is killed.”
“The so-called ‘leader of the mujahideen’ (holy fighters), was killed in his luxurious house, and not on the battlefield or in jihad” or holy war, wrote Tareq Hamid in the paper under the headline “Bin Laden died in his home!”.
Hamid called bin Laden’s death “a huge blow to Al-Qaeda.”
Bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia, one of some 54 children of Mohammad bin Laden. The authorities stripped him of his nationality in 1994.
He was killed in a daring US raid on Abbottabad, home to an elite military academy -- and also to the Al-Qaeda chief, who had been living in comfort in the garrison town two hours’ drive from the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
Saudi columnist Dawood al-Sherian acknowledged the operation’s “symbolism” and “positive impact on the image of the United States” domestically.
But “the way the end came for bin Laden has raised doubts in both its timing and detail, which might backfire on the United States’s image in the Arab and Muslim worlds,” he wrote in the London-based Al-Hayat daily.
For Sherian, arresting bin Laden would have been a better idea than killing him, as it would have “much weakened Al-Qaeda if its leader had to face justice like Iraq’s former leader Saddam Hussein.”
Fahd Kheitan, editor of Jordan’s independent daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm, wrote in an editorial that the American raid “was an electoral victory for Obama. But it caused limited damage to Al-Qaeda.”
“Al-Qaeda has lost its leader, but its followers will try to avenge his murder, creating exceptional conditions for the anti-terror coalition which has to be ready to face revenge.”
Jordanian political columnist Oreib agreed, but to a lesser extent.
“There will be revenge attempts, but Al-Qaeda’s ability to carry out major attacks has weakened and the network no longer enjoys sympathy in the Arab world,” he wrote in the semi-government Al-Dustur newspaper.
According to the Dubai-based English-language Gulf News daily: “The important success scored by American forces with their Pakistani allies in killing Osama bin Laden should be welcomed by all nations.
“But it would be a grave mistake to assume that bin Laden’s ideas and his organisation will fade away with his death,” it warned.
The United Arab Emirates state news agency WAM called bin Laden’s death a “positive step,” but this “does not... (mean) the end of Al-Qaeda and terrorism.”
Iraq’s Al-Dustur echoed the warning, saying the “death of bin Laden does not mean the death of Al-Qaeda and that the world will become peaceful and safe.”
In Egypt, the state-owned Al-Ahram hailed bin Laden’s death, while the independent daily Al-Shorouk echoed the sentiment with the headline: “The world is rid of the nightmare of bin Laden.”
Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbal, run by the family of Western-backed caretaker premier Saad Hariri, said the killing “lifted from the Muslim world the weight of terrorism that had been associated with the religion.”
Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is close to the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, called bin Laden a “man who, despite his shortcomings, had kept the criminals on their toes,” referring to Washington and its allies.
Iran’s reformist daily Shargh labelled bin Laden’s killing “Obama’s big hunt,” while the hardline Kayhan printed a bold headline saying “America killed its own mercenary.”
“The news of bin Laden’s death will guarantee Obama’s presence in the White House for four more years,” added the conservative Jam-e Jam newspaper.
In Iran’s arch-foe Israel, the media hailed the US raid and compared it to so-called targeted killings by Israeli troops against alleged terror leaders.
“The assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has transformed US President Barack Obama from a loser to an American hero overnight,” commentator Akiva Eldar wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.
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First Published: Tue, May 03 2011. 06 08 PM IST