World News Brief, Tuesday May 3

Osama bin-Laden's death: What happened... the reaction... obituaries... the consequences for Pakistan, Afghanistan, al-Qaeda... (+ analysis & background); NATO defends airstrikes after children's deaths; Japan passes $48b quake budget; China bans smoking in public places; and more

Top of the Agenda: Osama bin Laden Killed

President Obama announced late Sunday that Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda who was responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a US operation. Bin Laden, the world's most wanted terrorist, was killed in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, about ninety miles north of Islamabad, and his body was buried at sea (NYT). Obama said the operation had been in the making for months; he was first briefed on a possible lead for bin Laden's whereabouts last August.

The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion (WashPost) as cheering crowds gathered outside the White House and at Ground Zero in New York. Reactions also poured in from leaders around the world (al-Jazeera).

Obama said counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan had helped determine bin Laden's location. Islamabad said the operation was conducted by US forces and made no mention of Pakistan involvement (WSJ), a move likely meant to deflect domestic criticism, and avoid a backlash from hard-line Islamists who see bin Laden as a hero. The Pakistani Taliban has already threatened attacks against Pakistani leaders (Dawn), including President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistani army, following bin Laden's killing.

Depending on what role Pakistan played in the mission, tensions between the United States and Pakistan could ease or intensify, say analysts. The United States has paid Pakistan more than $1 billion a year for counterterrorism operations since 2001. The circumstance of bin Laden's death "may not only jeopardize that aid, but will also no doubt deepen suspicions that Pakistan has played a double game, and perhaps even knowingly harbored the Qaeda leader," writes Jane Perlez in the New York Times.

The killing brought mixed reactions from Afghanistan. Some Afghan politicians called for a hastened pullout of US troops (WSJ), while others cautioned that it did not necessarily translate into an immediate military victory over the Taliban and urged the United States and NATO not to use it as a reason to withdraw (NYT).


Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid writes that bin Laden's death is a huge blow to al-Qaeda, but the decentralized nature of the organization means it has the potential to carry out attacks (BBC) on any number of targets.

Foreign Affairs has a collection of articles on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

A Washington Post blog looks at the political consequences of bin Laden's death.


A New York Times obituary profiles bin Laden's life, his mission, and his acts of terrorism.

This CFR Backgrounder profiles al-Qaeda.


PACIFIC RIM: Japan Passes Emergency Budget

Japan's parliament passed a $48 billion emergency budget (AP) for reconstruction following March's earthquake and tsunami, but it will cover only a fraction of the cost of the most expensive disaster ever. Ultimately, analysts say the disaster could end up costing Japan $300 billion.

In a recent CFR meeting, Masaaki Shirakawa, governor of the Bank of Japan, discussed the effects of Japan's triple disaster on the economy, as well as the resilience and adaptability of the Japanese people.

China: Home to a third of the world's smokers, China imposed a smoking ban (Xinhua) in public places. The new rules have been criticized as it's unclear who will enforce the ban, what actions trigger a fine, and what the appropriate penalty should be for ignoring the rules.



- NATO Defends Libya Strikes
- Sri Lankans Protest UN Report




This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on