RELATIVES and survivors of attacks carried out in the name of al-Qaeda in Europe and Africa have expressed joy and relief at Osama bin Laden’s death but some warned he may become a martyr who continues to inspire terrorists.
Pilar Manjon, whose 20-year-old son was one of the 191 people who were killed in the bombings of four packed commuter trains on March 11, 2004, in Europe’s worst Islamic terror attack said bin Laden’s death “serves us little”.
“A monster has died, but they have killed a martyr, they are going to transform him into a martyr,” said Majon, who heads Spain’s main association of victims of the Madrid train bombings.
A total of 10 backpacks stuffed with explosives and shrapnel detonated inside morning rush hour trains in the attack carried out by a local cell of Islamic extremists in the name of al-Qaeda.
Bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a daring raid by US forces in Pakistan, triggering celebrations across the US a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks he masterminded levelled the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon.
While the news was also welcomed in countries like Spain, Britain and Kenya that suffered deadly attacks linked to bin Laden’s militant al-Qaeda movement, the reaction outside of the US was more muted.
“I saw the images from the United States. They gave the impression that global terrorism had ended. Given the number of victims they had, it is understandable, but terrorism has not ended,” Manjon told AFP.
Douglas Sidialo, who lost his sight to flying glass in the 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi in Kenya, shared Manjon’s concern that bin Laden’s killing would convert him into a martyr who will inspire more attacks.
“It is my fear that he might be turned into a martyr whereby people will want to worship him, people will idolise him and that killing him will bring more terrorists. That is my fear,” he told AFP at the Nairobi memorial to victims of the blast.
A total of 224 people were killed in the twin truck bombings that day in Nairobi and in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam, which were the deadliest assaults by al-Qaeda until the September 11 attacks.
US officials said bin Laden was buried at sea after being shot dead in a US helicopter-borne raid on his fortified villa in Pakistan to avoid a “shrine” situation.
John Falding, whose partner Anat Rosenberg was one of 52 people who were killed in the July 7, 2005, attacks on three London Underground trains and a bus, said there would be “relief and comfort for victims of al-Qaeda all around the world.”
“But I think also it’s a short-lived victory, in a way, because we now have to be on our guard. I think there will be reprisals – if only so that people can demonstrate that the organisation… still has potency,” he said.
CIA director Leon Panetta warned on Monday that terrorist groups “almost certainly” will try to avenge bin Laden, who is survived by several high-ranking leaders and supporters of his movement.
“I am very happy, and very well done to the Yanks, they deserve their praise,” said Sean Cassidy, whose 22-year-old son Ciaran was killed in the London attacks carried out by four British Muslims.
However, he added: “There are plenty more willing to fill his shoes – all those fanatical organisations have their young pretenders.”
Not everyone expressed joy at the news of bin Laden’s killing.
“I am not pleased for anyone to lose their life,” said Kim Beer, whose 22-year-old hairdresser son Philip was killed in the London attacks.