Image: Anti-government protesters in Yemen
Muhammed Muheisen  /  AP
Anti-government protesters in Yemen watch a TV report about the killing of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. 
By
updated 5/5/2011 8:11:21 PM ET 2011-05-06T00:11:21

In life, Osama bin Laden was ingrained in the Muslim consciousness in countless ways: the lion of holy warriors, the untouchable nemesis of the West, the evil zealot who soiled their faith with blood and intolerance.

In death, however, the voices across the Islamic world are now relatively muted in sharp counterpoint to the rage and shame — or hero-worship — that he long inspired.

For some, the account of bin Laden's death during a U.S. raid early Monday on his Pakistan compound is still too much to accept. One post on a militant website asks: "Has the sheik really died?"

But a more complex explanation for the relative quiet on the Muslim streets lies, in fact, on those same streets.

    1. AP sources: Raiders knew mission a one-shot deal
    2. Slate: Is bin Laden's 'porn' worse than his terrorism?
    3. SEAL-mania grips US in wake of bin Laden raid
    4. Kerry: US-Pakistan alliance at 'critical moment'
    5. Bin Laden was logged off, but not al-Qaida
    6. US shows off warship that buried bin Laden
    7. NYT: Cities nationwide heighten vigilance on terror
    8. Pakistan threatens to cut NATO's supply line

The pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world suggest to many that al-Qaida's clenched-fist ideology has little place for a new generation seeking Western-style political reforms and freedoms — even though al-Qaida offshoots still hold ground in places such as Yemen and Pakistan.

"Bin Laden died in Egypt before he was killed in Pakistan," said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science at Emirates University. "The young people who successfully challenged the status quo with peaceful means proved change the bin Laden way — the violent way, the jihad way — did not come."

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri — who took office after his father Rafik Hariri was killed in a 2005 truck bombing in Beirut — said bin Laden's death serves as something of a moment of silence for those killed by al-Qaida or groups that borrowed their violence creed.

"Any Arab or Muslim who believes that terrorism is destructive and harmful to Arabism and Islam, cannot but receive the news of the fate of Osama bin Laden with feelings of sympathy toward the family of thousands of victims who died in different areas of the world because of him or by his orders," said a statement by Saad Hariri.

Even in Iraq, there have been few public outpourings of happiness or grief in a country that has suffered years of relentless bombings and attacks by al-Qaida-linked groups targeting American forces or supporters of the U.S.-backed government.

A Baghdad-based political analyst, Hadi Jalo, said it appears to reflect a shift in Sunni insurgent groups that once called for a medieval-style Islamic caliphate in Iraq. They now are increasingly plotting ways to influence Iraq's political world with U.S. troops scheduled to leave by the end of the year.

Video: US-Pakistan tension erupts in open (on this page)

"Iraq today is different from Iraq in 2004, 2005 and 2006," Jalo said. "If the death news came at that period, we would see mourning ceremonies in different areas where al-Qaida insurgents were active."

In neighboring Iran — which backed the Shiite militant foes of Iraq's al-Qaida militants — bin Laden's death brought little public reaction, but was used by the Islamic rulers to jab at Washington. A commentary Wednesday by Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency mocked the epic costs of the near decade-long hunt for America's most-wanted figure and its wars in the region.

"American lives are being lost. Innocent civilians are being killed. Several of the conflicts appear to be primed to go on for a long time," said the agency, which is closely aligned with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Isolated calls for revenge
The lack of major public outpourings or declarations from al-Qaida also add another layer of guesswork about its future. Most assume that bin Laden's top aide, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri, is the apparent al-Qaida heir. There have been only isolated calls for quick revenge against the United States from protesters or on jihadist websites.

Just hours after bin Laden's death was announced, however, CIA director Leon Panetta warned that "terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge" the killing of the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

Image: Rally condemning bin Laden killing
Arshad Butt  /  AP
Maulana Noor Mohammad, former Pakistani lawmaker and leader of a religious party, addresses a rally Wednesday to condemn the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Quetta, Pakistan.

"Bin Laden is dead," Panetta wrote in a memo to CIA staff. "Al-Qaida is not."

In Pakistan's southern city of Karachi on Wednesday, about 1,000 mourners joined prayers for bin Laden arranged by a militant-linked charity. But there have been few other protests in the country that bin Laden may have used as his fugitive base for years.

In bin Laden's pre-9/11 stronghold, Afghanistan, many people still refused to believe that he was dead despite Washington's assertions of positive DNA tests. On Wednesday, President Obama said the U.S. will not release the photo of bin Laden's body that was taken after he was killed.

"I don't think he's dead," said Salam Jan Rishtania, a 26-year-old student in Kandahar. "I don't trust the Americans because they are playing games over here. This may be part of their game."

Still, there were some acts of homage in other parts of the Muslim world.

About 25 people in the Gaza Strip held pictures and posters of bin Laden on Tuesday. On the podcast channel of the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, some messages praised bin Laden among many others denouncing him.

"You are the sheik of the mujahedeen (holy warriors). God may grant you heaven," said one post. Another read: "You are in heaven, Sheik Osama."

'Terrorist act'
Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, portrayed bin Laden as the victim of a state-sponsored "terrorist act."

"We disagree with the vision of holy warrior Osama bin Laden, but we condemn this terrorist act," Haniyeh told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "What the U.S. did is not a heroic action, but a targeted killing. ... To pursue and kill him in Pakistan, which is Muslim land, means for us a further intervention in the land of Islam."

But in Somalia, where a hard-line Islamist group holds sway over large parts of the country, demonstrators marched defiantly through government-held parts of the capital, Mogadishu, and burned a flag they said represented al-Qaida.

"Terror, terror go away," they chanted. "Little kids want to play."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: The compound

loading photos...
  1. Pakistani boys while demolition takes place on the compound where Osama bin Laden was slain in 2011 in the northwestern town of Abbottabad on Feb. 26, 2012.

    More photos from Abbottabad one year after Osama bin Laden (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. An aerial view shows the residential area of Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. commandos. (Asif Hassan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A general view of the town of Abbottabad, May 6. Bin Laden was living in a large house close to a military academy in this garrison town, a two-and-a-half hour-drive from the capital, Islamabad. (Khaqan Khawer / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami rally to condemn the killing of bin Laden, in Abbottabad on May 6. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A Pakistani woman photographs her daughter on May , at a gate of the compound where bin Laden was caught and killed. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. School girls pass by armed Pakistani policemen guarding the sealed entrance to the compound in Abbottabad, May 5, in which bin Laden had been living. (MD Nadeem / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Part of a damaged helicopter rests in the compound after U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed bin Laden, May 2, in a photo made available on May 4. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Boys herd sheep past the compound where U.S. Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad May 5. (Akhtar Soomro / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Pakistani security officials arrive at the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad on Wednesday, May 4. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Local residents gather outside a burned section of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A Pakistani police officer gestures at a checkpoint along a road leading to a house where bin Laden was captured and killed in Abbottabad. Area residents were still confused and suspicious about bin Laden's death, which took place before dawn on Monday. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pakistani children look out from a high vantage point at bin Laden's compound on Tuesday, May 3. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Pakistan army troops remove canvas screens from outside the compound's house. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Neighbors and news media gather around the compound, right, after authorities ease security around the property. (Aqeel Ahmed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A satellite image, taken June 15, 2005, shows the Abbottabad compound, center, where bin Laden was killed in on Monday. (DigitalGlobe via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A Pakistani soldier secures the compound. (T. Mughal / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The compound is seen in flames after it was attacked early May 2 in this still image taken from cellphone video footage. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Part of a damaged U.S. MH-60 helicopter lies the compound. The helicopter was destroyed by U.S. forces after a mechanical failure left it unable to take off. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A still image from video obtained by ABC News shows blood stains in the interior of the house where bin Laden was killed. (ABC News via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Aerial views released by the Department of Defense show the area in Abbottabad in 2004, left, before the house was built, and in 2011, right. (Department of Defense via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A graphic released by the Department of Defense shows the compound where bin Laden was killed. (Department of Defense via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Pakistani soldiers and police officers patrol near the house, background, where bin Laden had lived. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. The hideout of bin Laden is seen the day after his death. (Farooq Naeem / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Students look toward the compound from a nearby religious school in Abbottabad. (Faisal Mahmood / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Pakistani security officials survey the walls of the compound where bin Laden was killed. The outer walls were between 10 and 18 feet high. (MD Nadeem / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Pakistani soldiers stand guard near the compound May 2. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Boys collect pieces of metal from a wheat field outside bin Laden's house, seen in the background, on May 3. People showed off small parts of what appeared to be a U.S. helicopter that the U.S. says malfunctioned and was blown up by the American team as it retreated. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Pakistani security officials stand guard at the main entrance to the compound on May 3. (MD Nadeem / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. An image from video seized from the walled compound of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, and released by the U.S. Department of Defense, shows Osama bin Laden watching TV. He is said to have spent his last weeks in a house divided, amid wives riven by suspicions. On the top floor, sharing his bedroom, was his youngest wife and favorite. The trouble came when his eldest wife showed up and moved into the bedroom on the floor below. (Department of Defense via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image:
    Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (29) After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound - The compound
  2. Image:
    Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (81) After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound - World reaction
  3. Image:
    Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (81) World reacts to death of Osama bin Laden - World reaction
  4. Image:
    Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (29) World reacts to death of Osama bin Laden - The compound
  5. Image: Protest against US drone strikes in Pakistan
    Shahzaib Akber / EPA
    Slideshow (154) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2013
  6. Image: PAKISTAN-NEW YEAR
    Arif Ali / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (160) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2012
  1. Image: A man, injured from the site of a bomb explosion, is brought to a hospital for treatment in Quetta
    Naseer Ahmed / Reuters
    Slideshow (193) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2011
  2. Image: Supporters of various religious parties take a part in a rally in support of the Pakistani blasphemy law in Karachi
    Athar Hussain / Reuters
    Slideshow (123) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2010
  3. Image: Activists of Pakistani Islamist organisa
    Tariq Mahmood / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (56) Pakistan: A nation in turmoil - 2009

Timeline: A timeline of Osama bin Laden's life

Considered enemy No. 1 by the U.S., the Saudi millionaire is the perpetrator behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Click on key dates to learn more about the founder of al-Qaida, an international terror network.

Video: US-Pakistan tension erupts in open

  1. Closed captioning of: US-Pakistan tension erupts in open

    >> let's go to pakistan , to the scene of the raid where because of the raid and how it was carried out, strains are now evident with the united states . ann curry is on the ground at the bin laden compound. good evening.

    >> reporter: hey, good evening to you, brian. tonight, pakistan is reeling, on the defensive, embarrassed, for the first time, publicly angry about the way the u.s. took down osama bin laden . today, as security was tightened around osama bin laden 's compound, a fury was unleashed from the most powerful man in pakistan , army chief general kiana who called sunday's raid a misadventure, warning in a memo that any similar action against pakistan would jeopardize the level of military cooperation with the united states .

    >> the pakistani military has come out defensively with respect to this entire affair because they don't have any good options. either they look like they were complicit in the behavior of the world's most notorious terrorist, or they look like their incompetent.

    >> today, they called the humil humiliation real, saying pakistan 's intelligence was caught, kwoetd, with its pants down. do you expect the world to believe that the intelligence services , the security services of pakistan are so incompetent they did not know osama bin laden was living 35 miles from islamabad.

    >> yeah, this is a small town. they can make slips. they did make a slip.

    >> reporter: also today, pakistan 's foreign secretary directly took on sususpicions that pakistan harbored osama bin laden .

    >> this is a false hypothesis. this is a false charge.

    >> reporter: a public relations offensive of a country desperate not to lose its more than $1.5 billion a year in u.s. aid . while at the same time, dealing with the wounded pride of its own people. many of whom refuse to believe osama bin laden was even killed here.

    >> we are not stupid. america, we are not stupid. we know everything, what's going on.

    >> reporter: today, hillary clinton acknowledged relations between pakistan and the united states are not always easy, but that cooperation will continue because it produces results. brian.

    >> ann curry reporting on the ground in pakistan where it's getting interesting now between the two countries.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments