Archive | May 6th, 2011

Afghan children killed in US-led strike



An Afghan refugee woman packs wheat, as refugee girls, on the background, stand in line to get soup in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, April 26, 2011.

A US-led missile strike has killed at least three Afghan children and wounded several others in Afghanistan’s troubled south.

US-led forces have shelled civilian houses during a military operation in a district in Logar province, a Press TV correspondent reported on Sunday.

One woman and his seven-year-old boy were also injured in the attack.

The US-led military alliance has confirmed the incident and casualties.

Meanwhile, scores of tribal leaders staged a protest rally to condemn the attack and to call for an end to deadly attacks on civilians.

The United Nations says at least 9,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in violent attacks in Afghanistan since 2007.

Hundreds of Afghan civilians have lost their lives in US-led airstrikes and ground operations in various parts of Afghanistan over the past few months.

The frequent attacks have resulted in growing anti-American sentiments.

Afghan officials have repeated condemned NATO attacks on civilians, calling for an end to such assaults.

Civilian casualties have always been a source of friction between the Afghan government and foreign troops.

About 150,000 foreign troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan.

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Death of Saif Al-Arab Gaddafi may backfire for Nato



Damage to Muammar Gaddafi house in Tripoli, Libya, 30 April.


The death of Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, if confirmed, is likely to have come as a consequence of Nato’s increasingly aggressive tactics, undertaken by the alliance to shake up a stalemate in the conflict.

But his killing in an air strike is a grievous strategic error – militarily insignificant but diplomatically disastrous.

Towards the end of April, Nato states made a number of operational innovations. Three member states – Britain, France, and Italy – injected military advisers into rebel-held eastern Libya. Another, the US, began continuous patrols of armed drones.

Third, and most important, air strikes began to target command, control, communications and intelligence networks (known, in military parlance, as C3I). The Bab al-Aziziya compound includes all three such networks, and it was presumed that their disruption would disorient regime soldiers on the front line, cut off field commanders from Tripoli, and sow confusion in the ranks.

But was the strike also an assassination attempt?

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The propaganda value of such unintended deaths is potentially severe”

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Assassination of a head of state is illegal under international law, and forbidden by various US presidential orders. On the other hand, the targeted killing of those woven into the enemy chain of command is shrouded in legal ambiguity.

Given the personalistic nature of the regime, and the “all means necessary” clause in UN Resolution 1973, it might be argued that killing Col Muammar Gaddafi and certain members of his family – such as his son Khamis, commander of an elite military brigade – would be permissible, even if it posed a risk to those non-combatants around the regime.

Legality, though, indicates neither legitimacy nor prudence. This strike, and the death of Saif al-Arab, have produced little military result at the greatest diplomatic and symbolic cost to Nato.

Propaganda value

Saif al-Arab was, unlike his brothers, not a senior military commander or propagandist. His death is redolent of the 1986 US strike on the same compound.

That raid killed a girl who Col Gaddafi later claimed was his adopted daughter and, in the scarred buildings and craters, furnished him with a long-lasting symbol of defiance.

Muammar Gaddafi (2 March 2011) Col Gaddafi could use his son’s death to divide his enemies

The propaganda value of such unintended deaths is potentially severe.

In the 1991 Gulf War, a US stealth bomber directed two bombs at what was claimed to be a command-and-control bunker, but was in fact an Iraqi civilian shelter.

The result was 315 deaths, including 130 children. Col Gaddafi, like Saddam Hussein before him, will take every opportunity to exploit such errors to paint Western powers as indiscriminate aggressors.

Moreover, this is no longer a conventional war in which top-down direction is crucial. Pro-Gaddafi forces in both the besieged western city of Misrata and in the east have adapted to Nato’s air power and are using increasingly unorthodox tactics.

They need not rely on a stream of detailed orders from Tripoli, and can cause considerable harm to civilians without this guidance.

Nato is understandably frustrated at the diminishing returns of air strikes, since it has destroyed most accessible targets. But killing commanders and disrupting communications is far less important than the key task of degrading heavy military equipment, such as tanks and artillery.

No silver bullet

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Col Gaddafi’s overarching strategy has never been to win a conventional war, but to induce symbolically prominent casualties”

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If the strike had killed Col Gaddafi himself, would it then have been at least a military success?

One of the greatest mistakes of the Iraq war was assuming that, with the departure of Saddam Hussein, the state apparatus could simply be transferred to new ownership.

Col Gaddafi’s death could see Saif al-Islam Gaddafi take the reins, galvanise supporters, and continue the war with equal intensity. It would be dangerous and short-sighted to portray even effective assassination as a silver bullet.

Perhaps, though, the demonstration to the regime that no safe haven exists, and that only capitulation would bring security, justified these risks?

There is no doubt that, along with the military aim of disrupting command-and-control hubs, Nato sought a psychological effect, conscious of the possibility of “accidental assassination”.

Shifting balance

The problem is that the direction of this effect is unclear. The dramatic visual impact of this air strike, and the death of those disconnected from political and military leadership, will harden the diplomatic opposition to the war, from Russia and China amongst others.

More consequentially, it will anger the alliance’s warier members, like Germany and Turkey, and inflame parts of Arab and African public opinion.

It may eventually leave Britain and France bearing the military burden alone, with modest but limited assistance from a cagey US administration eager to keep at arm’s length from this European war.

Col Gaddafi’s overarching strategy has never been to win a conventional war, but to induce symbolically prominent casualties, drive a wedge between more committed and more ambivalent members of the coalition, and knock away the pillars of political support on which this intervention was built.

Thus far, the coalition had sought, rightly, to purchase coalition longevity at the price of campaign intensity. If that balance continues to shift towards the latter, Nato runs the risk of playing into the regime’s hands.


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McCain: U.S. Needs to ‘Get Back in the Fight’ in Libya




If the allied forces want to prevent a stalemate in Libya, the U.S. needs to “get back in the fight,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Asked by host Bob Schieffer if he was satisfied with allied leadership in the conflict, McCain said he wasn’t, because the U.S. has taken a “backseat role” while the NATO member countries picking up the slack “don’t have the assets that the United States of America does.”

He added later, “I respect the president, and sometimes it’s very inappropriate for me to second-guess; obviously, I lost to him in the presidential election. But American leadership is vital in the world. There’s no country like America. We should be leading. We should not be following…. Only the United States is capable of helping these people in the most seismic and the most incredible period in the world’s history. This ‘Arab Spring’ is not confined even to the Arab countries, but how we handle it will determine the entire 21st century.”

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he is still opposed to committing ground troops, but the U.S. should “get its assets back into the air fight” and recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council and start providing support.

Meanwhile, in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad “is willing to slaughter his own people,” McCain said he didn’t see a military option because there’s no organized opposition. While the U.S. should seek sanctions and other measures, “it’s going to be a very bloody time, I’m afraid, in Syria.”


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Backlash in Tripoli: Protesters Burn Embassies Over Gadhafi Son’s Killing



Libyan Govt Promises to Repair Damage Caused in Protest

Angry pro-regime demonstrators took to the streets of Tripoli on Sunday following the announcement that a Saturday NATO air strike killed Saif al-Arab al-Gadhafi and three of Moammar Gadhafi’s grandchildren.

The protesters attacked numerous Western embassies, including the British and Italian ones. They also attacked a UN building, prompting the UN to evacuate all foreign staff. Britain summoned the Libyan ambassador over the destruction.

The Gadhafi government expressed “regret” at the destruction caused by the protesters. Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said police on the scene were overpowered by the sheer size of the rallies, and heinsisted that the regime would repair all the damage caused in the attacks.

NATO, for its part, insisted the attacks had only hit legitimate military targets. This raises clear questions about the incident, which saw the slain Saif al-Arab’s personal residence reduced to rubble. NATO said they found “no evidence” that civilians were inside the residence.

Incredibly, this was not the first time Saif al-Arab was bombed by the West. In 1986 he was wounded in US strikes which killed his adopted baby sister. US officials cheered the latest attacks, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) saying the strike was a “good use of the mandate.” Saif al-Arab held no position in the government and lived mostly in Germany over the past decade.

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NATO on defensive over strikes close to Gadhafi



by crescentandcross



BRUSSELS – After two airstrikes in a week on targets close to Moammar Gadhafi, NATO was on the defensive Sunday over accusations that it was overstepping its mandate by trying to kill the Libyan leader.

Russia said Sunday that the bombing of the home of Gadhafi’s youngest son raised “serious doubts” about NATO’s assertions that it is not targeting the Libyan strongman or his relatives.

“Disproportionate use of force … is leading to detrimental consequences and the death of innocent civilians,” the Russian Foreign Ministry warned.

International law does not explicitly forbid attacks on military commanders during wartime, but the U.N. Security Council mandate authorizing NATO action charged alliance forces with establishing a no-fly zone and protecting civilians from attack.

Security council members Russia, China and Brazil have warned that attempts to change the regime or eliminate its members would be a violation of the mandate.

Alliance officials and allied leaders emphatically denied they were hunting Gadhafi in order to break a stalemate in the war between the better-trained government forces and the lightly armed rebels. NATO said the Libyan government’s announcement that Gadhafi’s son and three grandchildren were killed in the airstrike late Saturday remained unconfirmed.

“All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gadhafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals,” said Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commands NATO’s operation in Libya.

Bouchard said the strike was part of NATO’s strategy to disrupt and destroy “the command and control of those forces which have been attacking civilians.”

Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, a London military think tank, noted that NATO warplanes have been shifting their focus in the past two weeks, from providing close support for the rebels on the front lines to focusing on military and government communication nodes. The immediate aim appeared to be to impair Gadhafi’s ability to direct units surrounding the besieged enclave of Misrata on the Mediterranean coast, where pro-regime forces have suffered a series of setbacks, he said.

Another aim could be to increase the psychological pressure on Gadhafi and the people close to him, by demonstrating “that the war is getting closer to them,” he said.

Another analyst said that there was a fine line between hitting military command-and-control centers, and hitting the people commanding and controlling Libya’s armed forces.

“You’re obviously risking hitting Gadhafi and members of his family, certainly those members involved in commanding the military,” said Nate Hughes, director of military analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

Hughes said there was confusion about the aim of the strikes partly because of an “inherent contradiction” about what NATO’s military objectives were. Politicians in the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands are talking about forcing Gadhafi out of power but NATO continues to insist that the strongman is not a target, he noted.

NATO took over command of the operation on March 31, after its governing body approved military plans to implement a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the protection of civilians from attacks by regime troops.

One of the first targets of the international force after the start of hostilities, was Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya presidential compound — which was previously bombed by U.S. warplanes in 1986 in retaliation for the attack on a German disco in which two U.S. servicemen were killed.

Last Monday, another strike on the same complex destroyed two more buildings.

At a joint news conference a day later, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and British Defense Minister Liam Fox denied the warplanes had targeted Gadhafi specifically, but said they would continue to take aim at his command centers.

NATO says the air offensive, which began on March 21 with attacks by a U.S.-led coalition, has so far destroyed or damaged about 600 targets, including about 200 tanks and armored personnel carriers, as well as dozens of surface-to-air missile sites, ammunition dumps and artillery pieces.

It declined to say Sunday how many command centers had been attacked.

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‘Doomsday scenario’ if Syria fails



Washington Post


BEIRUT — The toppling of the presidents in Tunisia and Egypt precipitated a tumult of revolutionary fervor that promises to transform the Middle East, but the potential collapse of the Syrian regime could wreak havoc of a very different kind.

In Syria, the fall of President Bashar al-Assad would unleash a cataclysm of chaos, sectarian strife and extremism that spreads far beyond its borders, threatening not only the entrenched rulers already battling to hold at bay a clamor for democratic change but also the entire balance of power in the volatile region, analysts and experts say.

With Syria’s minority Shiite Alawite government overseeing a majority Sunni population, its strategic location and its web of alliances including the radical Hamas and Hezbollah movements, regime change could look a lot more like it did in Iraq than in Egypt — and the ramifications could prove even more profound.

“If the regime collapses you will have civil war and it will spread throughout the region,” engulfing Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and beyond, said Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. “A collapse of the Syrian regime is a doomsday scenario for the entire Middle East.”

Many believe that is why the international community, including the United States, has offered such a tempered response to the bloodshed in Syria, the latest Arab country to be swept up in the unrest roiling the region. NATO warplanes are bombing Libya to protect civilians there, but there have been no calls even for Assad to step aside, despite an increasingly violent crackdown by the Syrian military in which at least 550 people have died. On Sunday, hundreds of people were detained as the military swept through towns and villages raiding homes in search of those who participated in recent protests, human rights groups said.

Analyst Rami Khouri describes Syria as the Middle East equivalent of a bank that’s too big to be allowed to fail. “The spillover effect would be too horrible to contemplate,” he wrote in a commentary in Beirut’s Daily Star.

“The specter of sectarian-based chaos within a post-Assad Syria that could spread to other parts of the Middle East is frightening to many people.”

Part of the problem is that so little is known about what would come next should Assad be ousted. Egypt and Tunisia took great leaps into uncertainty when their regimes fell, but in each case the army, a known quantity, asserted its independence and seized power to oversee the transition.

In Syria, the army is so tightly bound to Assad’s Alawite clan that the fall of the regime would almost certainly lead to its disintegration, setting the stage for an Iraq-style implosion in which the state collapses, a majority seeks to exact revenge on a minority and regional powers pile in to assert their own interests, said Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma, who writes the blog Syria Comment.

“Syria is the cockpit of the Middle East, and a struggle for control of Syria would be ignited,” he said.

Implications for Iraq

It is the specter of Iraq, where U.S. troops are preparing to withdraw by the end of the year, that most haunts the Obama administration as it seeks to balance demands for a firmer response to the escalating bloodshed with America’s strategic interests, analysts say.

Syria shares a long desert border with Iraq that was for many years the chief transit point for Islamic extremists seeking to join the Sunni insurgency. Only recently, officials say, had the United States noted genuine efforts on the part of the Syrians to curtail the traffic, prompting the United States to return an ambassador to Syria in January for the first time since 2005.

“For the Obama administration, the last thing they want, just at the time they’re withdrawing from Iraq, is a destabilized Syria that would lead to open season for jihadis to cross the border into Iraq,” said David Lesch, professor of Middle East history at Trinity University in Texas.

Iraq’s own Shiite government also views with alarm the upheaval across the border, mindful that the collapse of Syria’s Shiite minority government would almost certainly herald the rise of a Sunni state on its doorstep, and perhaps renewed support for Sunni insurgents still resisting the Shiite ascendancy in Baghdad.

But Iraq is by no means the only country in the region looking askance at the Syrian upheaval. Israel has expressed misgivings about the tumult threatening its chief foe, which has reliably not attempted to recover by force the occupied Golan Heights for nearly four decades — something that could change if a populist Syrian government emerged.

Neighboring Lebanon has its own Sunni-Shiite divide that has long been delineated by pro- and anti-Syrian camps. They have fought one another on many occasions in the recent past, and it is inconceivable that Syria’s troubles would not spill over the border into Lebanon, Khashan said.

To the north, Turkey is concerned about the potential aspirations of Syria’s Kurds, who could seek to assert their identity and claims to statehood as Iraq’s Kurds did after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Iran has relied on its three-decade-old alliance with Syria to project its influence into the Arab world, and has no wish to see the country controlled by Sunnis. It would almost certainly intervene to support its Alawite allies, just as it intervened in Iraq to help Shiites there. The Obama administration has already accused Iran of helping Damascus repress the revolt.

And the Persian Gulf states, though long on frosty terms with Damascus, also are nervous about the prospect of sectarian conflict, which could leach into Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. For Saudi Arabia, there is also the worry that the assertion of Sunni power in Syria could inspire restive domestic Sunni radicals to intensify their opposition to the monarchy.

Unclear opposition

Yet little is known about who the opposition in Syria is, or who might take over should the regime fall — offering another reason that governments have been so hesitant to call for Assad’s departure.

The authorities have denied entry to the news media, and even before this latest unrest, visas were issued sparingly to journalists and academics, making it hard to know exactly who is behind the sudden, and for many unexpected, outpouring of dissent.

Syria has sought to portray its opponents as armed Islamic extremists intent on sowing sectarian strife, and indeed, the last time there was significant domestic unrest in the country was in 1982, when the Syrian army ruthlessly crushed an insurrection by armed members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the town of Hama, killing between 10,000 and 40,000 people.

Syrian activists bristle at the suggestion that their movement is dominated by Islamists, and say their revolution is no different from the one in Egypt, in which ordinary people spontaneously took to the streets to vent their frustrations with corruption, nepotism and the ruthlessness of the security forces.

“I feel disgusted by how the superpowers make these calculations based on their own interests, while my own people are dying on the streets,” said Mohammed Ali Atassi, a prominent journalist and filmmaker currently in Beirut.

“The Syrians will get their freedom, and we will decide, and the Americans and Europeans will have to accept our choice,” he said. “But in any case, democratically elected governments always go for a peaceful and rational foreign policy.”

‘Overexaggerated’ fears

Some analysts say there is indeed no reason to fear a transition in Syria, which has in any case long been blamed by the West for much of the instability plaguing the region. Predictions of the chaos that would ensue if the regime in Damascus were to fall “are way overexaggerated,” said Riad Kahwaji of the Dubai-based Institute for Gulf and Near East Military Analysis.

Syria has been implicated in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, hosts the remnants of Hussein’s Baath Party facilitating the insurgency in Iraq, and enables Iran to ship weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah through its territory. A new regime could prove far more moderate, Kahwaji said.

Yet Syria’s long history as the master manipulator of the Middle East may be another reason that the world is reluctant to alienate Assad. With its long record of sponsoring multiple, shadowy extremist groups in pursuit of foreign policy goals, the Syrian regime is also in a position to unleash considerable chaos across the region should it feel unduly threatened, analysts say.

And that, according to Khashan, the American University of Beirut professor, makes it unlikely the Syrian regime will fall. “Because, to tell the truth, no one wants it to fall, including Israel, the U.S. and the gulf states,” he said.

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Iran–’No excuse for US presence in region’ now that Osama Dead


by crescentandcross


Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says the news of Osama bin Laden’s death has left the US and its allies with no excuse to stay in Afghanistan.

“We hope that this development will end war, conflict, unrest and the death of innocent people, and help to establish peace and tranquility in the region,” Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement released on Monday.

“This development (Bin Laden’s death) clearly shows that there is no need for a major military deployment to counter one individual,” he added.

Mehmanparast underlined that “Iran, as one of the main victims of terrorism, strongly condemns any act of terror in the world including organized terrorism in the Zionist regime [of Israel].”

Meanwhile, member of the Parliament (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Javad Jahangirzadeh said the United States conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden for fear that he would leak classified and sensitive information.

“How could a terrorist (Osama bin Laden) hide himself from intelligence sources …and intelligence services cooperating with the West,” the Iranian lawmaker asked.

He went on to say that the al-Qaeda leader was a key figure in promoting Islamophobia and showing a violent image of Islam and had been terminated in order to prevent him from leaking sensitive intelligence.

“Naturally the West was satisfied with Bin Laden’s performance over the past years, and today, as they believed their [anti-Islam] project had been completed and so to prevent the leaking of valuable information they were forced to kill him,” Jahangirzadeh said.

In a televised speech on Sunday, US President Barack Obama announced that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in a US operation in Pakistan.

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” Obama said.

“The United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, in Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden, and took custody of his body,” he added.

Meanwhile, a US official says bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea, alleging that his hasty burial was in accordance with Islamic law, which requires burial within 24 hours of death.

This is while burial at sea is not an Islamic practice and Islam does not determine a timeframe for burial.

The official added that finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted man was difficult, so the US decided to bury him at sea.

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Iran lawmaker downplays Osama death



Osama Bin Laden was reportedly shot by US Navy Seals in the early hours of Monday.

A senior Iranian lawmaker has raised doubt about the US claim that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been killed by American forces near Islamabad.

“We are not sure how accurate the announcement made by the United States is as they have in the past claimed that Bin Laden has been killed,” head of the Parliament (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted by ISNA as saying on Monday.

”Today 47 or 48 countries have military forces in Afghanistan,” he said.

“They haven’t accomplished much even if in fact they (the US) are telling the truth about having killed Bin Laden after ten years,” Boroujerdi concluded.

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama announced that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces after he was found hiding in a compound in Pakistan.

This is while analysts and military experts believe that the United States had delayed the killing of bin Laden to continue the presence of US-led forces in war-torn Afghanistan, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The US president further said that “The US has never been and will never be at war with Islam,” adding that bin Laden was also a mass-murderer of Muslims.

The announcement of bin Laden’s death comes almost ten years after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Meanwhile, a US official says bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea, alleging that his hasty burial was in accordance with Islamic law, which requires burial within 24 hours of death.

This is while burial at sea is not an Islamic practice and Islam does not determine a timeframe for burial.

The official added that finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted man was difficult, so the US decided to bury him at sea.


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NATO will continue Afghan mission’



by crescentandcross


NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance will continue its mission in Afghanistan despite the recent killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Rasmussen hailed the death of bin Laden and said NATO will continue its presence in Afghanistan in an attempt to prevent the war-torn country from becoming a terrorist haven again, AFP reported.

The NATO chief’s remarks came after US President Barack Obama announced the killing of bin Laden on Monday.

The world’s most wanted man was killed on Sunday during a US military operation on his compound in Pakistani town of Abbottabad in northeast of Islamabad.

Many observers believe bin Laden’s killing will trigger a violent reaction across the world where al-Qaeda has headquarters, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco and Algeria.

Some analysts and military experts also say the United States had delayed the killing of bin Laden to continue the presence of US-led forces in war-torn Afghanistan.

The announcement of bin Laden’s death comes almost ten years after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The number of US-led forces in Afghanistan stands at about 150,000 while more than 47,000 American soldiers are being stationed inside Iraq.

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US cheers bin Laden’s death





Hundreds flock to Ground Zero after Obama declares terrorist dead. ‘Great day to be American,’ says one

Hundreds of jubilant people streamed to the spot where the World Trade Center towers fell almost 10 years ago, waving American flags, snapping pictures and breaking into song early Monday to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden.

Mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks killed by US-led team after manhunt that took nearly a decade, president announces. Senior officials say al-Qaeda leader killed in firefight at his fortified compound in Pakistan, remains being handled according to Islam

It was easily the happiest crowd ever at a site where more familiar scenes are bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” and solemn speeches memorializing the dead during annual anniversary ceremonies.

Guy Madsen drove from his home in New Jersey with his son when he heard of bin Laden’s death.

“This is Judgment Day and we’re winning,” he said.

Farther uptown in Times Square, dozens stood together on the clear spring night and broke into applause when a New York Fire Department sports utility vehicle drove by, flashed its lights and sounded its siren.

A man held an American flag and others sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

And in Washington, a large group gathered in front of the White House, chanting “USA! USA!” and waving American flags. The throng had filled the street in front and was spilling into Lafayette Park.

Will Ditto, 25, a legislative aide, said he was getting ready to go to bed Sunday night when his mother called him with the news. He decided to leave his home on Capitol Hill and join the crowd. As he rode the subway to the White House, he told fellow passengers the news.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s a great day to be an American.”

George Washington University student Alex Washofsky, 20, and his roommate Dan Fallon, 20, joined the crowd.

“George Bush said, `Bring him to justice, dead or alive,’ and we did it,” said Washofsky, a junior and a member of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps.

The crowd began gathering before President Barack Obama addressed the nation at about 11:30 pm Sunday.

Some people sprinted up on foot to join the crowd. Others arrived on bicycles, and some people brought dogs.

‘He’s dead, but now what?’

In Dearborn, Michigan, a, heavily Middle Eastern suburb that’s home to one of the nation’s largest Arab and Muslim communities, a small crowd gathered outside City Hall, chanting “USA” and waving American flags.

Across town, some honked their car horns as they drove along the main street where most of the Arab-American restaurants and shops are located.

At the Arabica Cafe, the big screen TVs that normally show sports were all turned to news about bin Laden.

Cafe manager Mohamed Kobeissi says it’s finally justice for those victims.

In Philadelphia, at a game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, chants of “USA! USA!” began in the top of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. Fans could be seen all over the stadium checking their phones and sharing the news.

Shirley Miller watched a headline flip across a monitor in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport before her daughter and husband texted her with the same news: Bin Laden was dead.

But for the 42-year-old Miller, whose son has deployed twice to Afghanistan following 9/11, the news didn’t soothe worries that bin Laden’s death could prompt more attacks against the U.S.

“OK. He’s dead, but now what?” Miller asked as she flew from Chicago to Little Rock, Arkansas.

“It’s kind of scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “It could get worse.”

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