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German media roundup: The death of bin Laden

The Local · 3 May 2011, 12:10

Published: 03 May 2011 12:10 GMT+02:00

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Nearly a decade after the attacks on September 11, 2001, the world’s most powerful nation has killed the man who became perhaps its greatest pre-occupation for those intervening years.

Germany’s media agree that Islamist terrorism did not end on Sunday when US Navy SEALS raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and killed the al-Qaida leader and 9/11 mastermind.

They also agree bin Laden’s death will have a restorative effect on the US – though whether it is America’s justifiable national pride or its lost sense of direction that is restored, depends on whether commentators agreed with the course the US has taken for the past decade.

US President Barack Obama won strong and broad praise in the German press for his handling of the affair, particularly the sober way he revealed the news, free from triumphalism that could further inflame the Muslim world.

Coinciding with the pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the death of bin Laden could, various newspapers argued, draw a line under a decade of suspicion between east and west – if leaders seize the moment wisely.

The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that the US actually weakened itself by declaring its “war on terror” during the administration of President George W. Bush.

The US made Osama bin Laden into an icon, it argued. Bin Laden’s death will therefore no doubt have a cathartic effect on the world’s most powerful nation. But its pursuit of bin Laden and terrorism have derailed America. Obama’s more restrained foreign policy is getting it back on track.

“America has in the past decade surrounded itself by protective walls – physical as well as mental barriers. The Land of the Free has paid the price for supposed security in the most important currencies: openness and freedom. Even if bin Laden fell short of his actual goal and never created the caliphate, he derailed the global power, the US, and triggered the diminution of its power.

“Barack Obama, Bush’s successor, was the one who recognised this disastrous connection and set the country on a policy of international self-restraint. This will one day be recognised as possibly as the most important foreign policy achievement of the current president. America is becoming less of a source of friction for terrorism – and can therefore again unveil its strength. Obama and Osama – terrorism has met its match.”

The right-wing Die Welt wrote that bin Laden's death was a hugely important symbol. It was necessary to rob bin Laden of his aura of invulnerability and demonstrate to the world that America remains strong.

“America has once again powerfully demonstrated with the death of bin Laden that one cannot go unpunished for attacking and humiliating the USA. America has shown that it doesn’t forget. And that it commands the resources, the technology, the courage and the readiness to pursue offenders tirelessly and seize them at a great distance.”

It also praised Obama’s careful avoidance of triumphalism.

“In words that would never come from the lips of a German politician, he justified the death of a man from the sphere of America’s values. No talk of revenge, but a clear signal that one indivisible nation is so sacred to Americans that they will always defend it pragmatically – the pilgrims aren’t supposed to have fled Europe’s despots for nothing.”

The world has often felt that the US has got most things wrong since September 11, 2001 – notably the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But things look a little different today, the paper argued.

The uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Syria – perhaps helped by the downfall of Iraq's Saddam Hussein – defy the old pessimism that the Middle East was a choice between fanatical theocrats and secular autocrats.

But the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said security officials around the world needed to remain vigilant to combat the many-headed “hydra” al-Qaida after bin Laden’s death.

According to the paper, not since Gavrilo Princip – the Serb who killed Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and helped start World War I – has a terrorist had such influence on the world’s great powers and the fates of millions of people.

“A massive effort is still required to keep Islamist terrorism in check. (Bin Laden’s) unmatched ‘success’ will encourage imitators, even when America under Obama is doing all it can to make peace with the (Muslim) world – including holding bin Laden’s funeral according to Islamic rites.”

But the FAZ said American goodwill will not be enough.

“Bin Laden’s demise comes at a time when many hope there will be a new beginning – the start of the democratization of Muslim nations in the Middle East. Some in the West are convinced democrats will shy away from war and extremism.

"But that certainly doesn’t cover every possible development, as a look at the Gaza strip shows. The Hamas-led government there won an election and that didn’t keep it from condemning the killing of bin Laden and praying for the salvation of a mass murderer responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents, including Muslims.”

Story continues below…

And Berlin’s centrist daily Der Tagesspiegel said bin Laden’s death was a watershed moment that would affect the West’s relations with the wider Muslim world.

“The terror threat is in no way banished. It is likely to be hardly lessened at all. And there could be a long philosophical debate about the legality of extrajudicial executions. However, killing this top terrorist indisputably symbolizes the vulnerability of the ideology he so embodied.

"With him dies the mythology of invincibility gained while hiding out in the caves of Tora Bora. The glorified death of martyrdom won’t change that.”

The paper acknowledged there had been serious mistakes made in the war on terror – the reasons for invading Iraq, the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the torture at Abu Ghraib.

But Der Tagesspiegel said the defining characteristic of open societies was not their infallibility but their self-correcting nature.

“That wasn’t always the case, but overall the West can be proud of itself. In the wake of 9/11, it found the balance between overreacting and ignorance. Despite deep internal differences, it held together. Now it would behove (the West) not to be blinded by its successes. Its worst enemy remains the tendency to make staying vigilant routine. Osama bin Laden is dead. But from Tehran to Hezbollah and Hamas – militant Islamism has not yet been vanquished.”

The Local/djw/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:09 May 3, 2011 by Chicago1996
I just hope that we don't find out that the building of his compound was partially financed by funds Pakistan received from the US over the years. Now that would be a slap in the face for every US taxpayer, including myself.
13:50 May 3, 2011 by FredFinger
Its absolutely clear that the compound was under the watchful eye of Pakistani intellegence. Its also clear that Pakistan can behave however it likes and americans will swallow it because they have no alternative.
14:47 May 3, 2011 by venkyfra
He was living 60km from capital that too very close to pak army center.. I think world has more reasons to worry now. Its not a person anymore its a country.

Whatever it is.. This certainly will bring sense of relief to Indian politicians & diplomats, after all they were right all these years..
14:51 May 3, 2011 by jbaker
You can not get any better Fictional Writing than this! Hollywood Needs these Writers. They will make a Fortune.
16:13 May 3, 2011 by bad_tolz
If there is a hell? Bin Laden is surely in it and we can take a bit of a comfort in that fact. The reality is that the USA and our "Allies" are not finished yet. The terrorist can run, but will only die tired!
16:48 May 3, 2011 by Sastry.M
Indeed this American success of liquidating the most notorious terrorist right within the compound of her best preferred ally Pakistan helped with huge aid to fight against terrorism and the late realization of betrayal forcing the U.S to stealth operation goes to show that America should initiate real soul searching with this success in developing an independent foreign policy free from prejudice for preferred countries and remain the promised land of freedom and democracy with trust in God's Glory instead of corporate wealth.

It should also be an eye opener to Indian politicians to keep faith in the teachings of Gita and fall back on her own resources than seek world bank loans for national progress and become slaves to a sinister economic empire.
19:15 May 3, 2011 by domoresti

Too original for Hollywood. Way too original.
20:15 May 3, 2011 by FredFinger
You can bet your last euro that hollywood will make a pic out of this. Now lets see, who's going to star...
23:32 May 3, 2011 by Khalidhameed

First important thing to be noticed in all this problems associated with Alqaeda and stuff is implanted by US in its fight against former USSR. These Americans to whom they call now terrorists were called jihadis and were being funded by US, so lets put aside this thing that Alqaeda is something that emerged out by itself..it was crafted by US to cover its own interests

Now things to be notice in this drama that if US knew that osama was there in the compound why they waited for so long ..so question raised

US wants its forces withdrawn from afghanistan on higher note so they crafted this to gain something out of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan..Moroever they didnt even showed any pictures or videos that can comprehend that it was osama or they could have even bought him from bases in Afghanistan n then created a drama show of operation that he was in Pakistan

So one should see the subtle things as well..as the americans would do any thing from forging operation to any other thing to guard its interests
23:35 May 3, 2011 by wxman
From an American conservative all I have to say is, Good work, Mr. President!
03:41 May 4, 2011 by Christine1
I would not want to go up against the Navy Seals. Amazing job!!!
10:26 May 4, 2011 by venkyfra

Lets assume you are totally right. Why was Osama sheltered in Pakistan, why not in his home country or any other jihadi nation? How was he able to build such a huge campus that too close to military center? Did all these happen with ISI blessing? Why is Mr.Zardari claiming he has no clue? How is that even possible? Why is Pakistani army or ISI making a statement?

Sadly, there is no way people of Pakistan can say what they think or exercise their right. History proves that people choice is always overridden by military.

Now Indian government has every right to claim that all the terrorist & criminals who haunted India all along are in Pakistan and Pakistan govt is sheltering them.

Its going to be very difficult for Pakistan to prove to the world that they are innocent. Why is Pakistani forces not releasing pictures, who is stopping them?
11:59 May 4, 2011 by FredFinger

At one time Bin Laden was our bastard and we put him to good use and then he jumped the fence which eventually resulted in his death. No questions raised about waiting to get him, with an operation as risky and with the potential international repercussions they wanted to make absolutely sure. Very responsible, after all this was just one man and his death was not worth giving Pakistan an excuse to become even more reticent on terrorism should there be an incident going in.

You're watching too many movies Khalidhameed. They found him, took time to confirm it and organize it properly and got him. The planing paid off with a near perfect mission and egg all over the face of the Pakistanis. Congradulations to America. It seems the rumors of its death are highly exaggerated. :-)
18:40 May 4, 2011 by maxbrando
I am amazed that the German press praises Obama while sneering at Bush. What dishonrable cowards you Germans are. You remain condescending to everything Bush started, but are too cowardly to admit that this action was started by him and that he was right to fight.
21:53 May 4, 2011 by FredFinger
Thats right maxbrando. And not only the germans, a lot of american psuedo intellectuals sneered at Bush for being a common man but he got a lot of things right in the foreign policy arena. Now we're all beginning to see why he was so confident that in 10 years time he would be proved right. We beginning to see that already.
11:47 May 5, 2011 by adipk
I am sure that people of such high profile wont stay at same place for longer time. I know this place is more than 150 km from Islamabad but why media is presenting as neighboring capital city. I have never been on his side but now i want to know that was that man really osama. Because local int agencies trace him in 2001 or in 2002 but that time US was hesitating to kill him and know suddenly they came made operation 40 commando back in helicopter, took dead body and buried him in sea.

Still i am confused that is it true because we know that he has already been died and all videos are fake. May be Americans are hiding his dead body because it is a drama? I am also feared that he will not come once again and made a funny stupid video of him self and F5&%&$% Aljazira channel broadcast it.

God bless all human kind.
16:58 May 5, 2011 by Beachrider
Abbottabad is 35 mi (56 km) from Islamabad BY AIR. The highways loop around mountains and add up to 75 mi (120 km) according to Google. It isn't far from the capital of Pakistan. This is the location for a Pakistani National Military Academy (like Annapolis or West Point in the USA). It is 250 km inside Pakistan (by road).

I hope that helps people with fact challenges on this issue.
17:53 May 5, 2011 by Sastry.M
Given the geographical location of target place and the subtle sensitivities associated with it's up keeping the challenge demands truth to be extracted from the facts presented as a result of the successful operation.

1) The ignorance of ISI of the most sought after person located in a compound of cantonment right under their nose.

2)The closely guarded secrecy of the mansion with conspicuous high raise walls and its ownership records for the last six years.

3) The unheard droning noise of helicopters breaching midnight lull shattering all secrecy with loud detonations

4) The confused and incoherent statements by the well planned organizers after the successful completion of mission and all hasty actions in its aftermath

shrouded with secrecy benefiting more doubts than confident and open jubilation.

5) The back tracking of statements by the victors tailored to developing situations rather than concerted openness.

Gita says that human beings can only initiate actions to their expected choice of results but the huge leviathan of nature follows only irrevocable laws of truth and presents results commensurately with it.
03:32 May 8, 2011 by wenddiver
After 911 the US Navy recruiting stickers said:

"The Pursuit of Life, Liberty and all who threaten it", with a Super Carrier coming at you for the picure".

I would say they got what they Enlisted for.

Cogratulation US Navy SEALS and CIA.
13:05 May 8, 2011 by Khalidhameed

oh so you used osama bin laden for good reasons...can you please tell me those good reasons...don't be so ignorant of this fact that US supplied ammunition and resources to stop the march of Soviet Union to guard its own interest.....mind it and after achieving its targets US left Pakistan on its mercy to dealt with ammunition that they used for their own interests...so what they sow Pakistan has to harvest with so called help from Americans..so be fair on the ground realities

And due to all this false policy making Pakistan had to suffer all the after math of all this...and when you talk about the Pakistan Agencies role in not capturing Osama bin laden , why they would have taken such a risk when their own country has lost many lives in the this forced war: Some more than 3000 people died in terrorist activities in Pakistan last year and when you sum up for last few years it far exceeds the number of people killed in 911 or in 7/7. The world doesn't sees this, are they ignorant or are they biased about their thinking

Human life is sacred even if it is of any Pakistani or any American


And what about Indian activities in Afghanistan to set up terrorist activities in Pakistan. What about RAW's activities in Pakistan to fuel the terrorist activities. So many bomb blast that killed innocent Pakistan's was supported by Indian agencies. Not to mention the India's unnecessary increasing number of consulates. So that was an irresponsible statement made by Indian Army Chief.

About Osama bin laden not seeking place in some secluded spot, I guess he might have thought that its best to hide in cities as both CIA and ISI was after him and they were all focused on barren mountains of Waziristan and Tora Bora.
13:38 May 8, 2011 by FredFinger
The good reason was chasing the Russians out of Afghanistan, a result the whole world welcomed. The pakistanis then tried to use Bin Laden to maintain influence in Afghanistan even when al queda re-oriented itself towards a clash with the west. The pakis got their fingers burned as Bin Laden's strategy of terror mauled everthing in its path but still they held on. Pakistan deserves all the grief it gets for its double game with the worlds pre-eminent terrorist organization.
16:16 May 9, 2011 by Bruno53
HA! Killing this guy Mr Osama bin Laden will not make a damn difference! Others are willing to subtitude him, and carry on the war against USA and its allies. And I expect big disappointments from those "celebrating' his death in the near future!!
12:30 May 11, 2011 by FredFinger
With any luck you'll be disappointed Bruno53. It could be imagined that the collateral info the seals picked up in Bin Laden's hideout might keep al queda on the defensive for some time to come.
20:19 May 11, 2011 by Khalidhameed
Just by saying that whole world welcome the US involvement in Afghanistan doesnt mean that all the world was right. And if they think they are so righteous in there stance then why US left pakistan n afghanistan to face the deteriorating situation caused by US funded ammunition. US craved their interest and just never bothered to take interest and now they are claiming and blaming the organization of Pak. I don't know why people always point towards pak that they are supporting terrrorists, the number of pakistanis that lost their life in the terrorist activities far outreach the number of peoples killed in whole world and the world still points the finger on Pakistan. Pakistan should blame US for their dual and mean strategies that cost Pak thousands of lives.
15:12 May 12, 2011 by FredFinger
Nonsense Khalidhameed. The Pakistanis were embarrassed in their continuing double game by the the brilliant apprehension of Bin Laden. Its that government and people that bear the entire responsibility for every death in Afghanistan.
23:52 May 12, 2011 by willowsdad
Let's rephrase the question: should Americans celebrate the fact that their government operates outside the law and the terrorists have, in fact, won?
11:04 May 13, 2011 by FredFinger
Operating outside what law? International law allows the targeting of enemy leaders.
06:40 May 14, 2011 by MfromUSA
@willowsdad.re. Let's rephrase the question: should Americans celebrate the fact that their government operates outside the law and the terrorists have, in fact, won?

I will tell you this willowsdad. At least the USA is NOT schizophrenic in how it deals with mass murderers, or those that support mass murder....as is Germany. GERMANY just convicted a man who assisted in the mass murder of many...only to allow him to walk free.

16:17 May 14, 2011 by willowsdad
Actually, the US is famously schizophrenic in supporting all types of unsavory and horrible characters when they serve US "interests" and then condemning them when convenient to do so. Saddam Hussein is one very good example of this. Don't you know that in the 1980s, the US supported the Islamist mujahedeen "freedom fighters" in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan with money and arms (and positive propaganda)? Who do you think bin Laden was?

If, in fact, any of the official version of the story of his death is true.

Targeted assassinations are illegal under international law, and for OBL to have been an enemy leader, there would first have to be what there consistently hasn't been since 1941: a declaration of war.

Just for fun, let's not forget that certain US leaders, like Henry Kissinger, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, etc. are considerd war criminals by many (even in the US) and we know they'll never, ever be brought to any kind of trial. What do you think would be your response if some specially-trained team of assassins rid the world of one of them? Discuss.

Listen to yourself yearning to prolong and intensify suffering and tell me you're NOT at the level of the terrorists.

At any rate, the whole thing strikes me as merely an opportunity for some feel-good chest-thumping, with the ultimate goal of making the Obama administration and its policies (which are little different from those of its predecessor) look good.
13:54 May 16, 2011 by FredFinger
The US is famously schizophrenic?! Saddam was useful in controlling Iran till he jumped the fence in Kuwait and likewise Osama with the Russians until they left and Osama found that he liked jihad for its own sake. Kissinger and Bush et al are heros for seeing the global communist threat and taking the unpopular and expensive action to keep it at bay until the Soviets collapsed.

Its great that Willow has a dad but he sure is confused.
14:52 May 18, 2011 by willowsdad
Yes, Fred, I'm right and you admit it: the US crawls into bed with vicious people, knowing they're vicious and then purports to be shocked--shocked!--when these entities do bad things on their own. Or are you fool enough to believe that Saddam and Osama were actually good guys when under US spnsorship and then suddenly turned bad?

If you think Kissnger and Bush are heroes, you're no different from those who consider bin Laden a hero. After all, he saw the global secularist threat and took the unpopular and expensive action to keep it at bay.

BTW, wouldn't Osama be much more valuable alive than dead? He must have had all kinds of valuable information, as did Saddam and Timothy McVeigh, etc.
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