Wednesday

18th May 2022

EU cheers reported killing of Osama bin Laden

  • Ground Zero some 10 years later: the attack launched the US' 'War of Terror' and defined a new era (Photo: Dorli Photography)

A US-ordered strike in Pakistan which reportedly killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has been met with "relief" and talk of a "safer world" by EU leaders, despite the bloc's official stance against targeted assassinations.

"The news that Osama bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world," said British Prime Minister David Cameron in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Cameron was the first among EU leaders to react to the announcement made on Sunday night (1 May) by US President Barack Obama that he had ordered the "operation" which killed the top terrorist. A spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel later said the German leader had communicated her "relief" at the news to the US president.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt tweeted: "A world without Osama Bin Laden is a better world. His hatred was a threat to us all."

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU commission chief in a joint statement said: "Osama Bin Laden was a criminal responsible for heinous terrorist attacks that cost the lives of thousands of innocent people. His death makes the world a safer place." They also spoke of solidarity with "our friends in the Muslim world in combating the scourge of global extremism."

The news comes almost 10 years after the 9/11 attacks orchestrated by Bin Laden which killed thousands in New York and Washington.

For his part, the EU's ambassador to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, welcomed the news that Bin Laden has been "finally hunted down" in the city of Abottabad, some 80 kilometres northeast of Islamabad.

"It could be a gamechanger in boosting the morale and confidence of the US and international community that the efforts and sacrifices of almost the past 10 years of involvement in Afghanistan and in the region are not in vain."

The killing, according to Usackas "will inject the regional players with confidence to move forward with greater cooperation and steps in support of peace and reconciliation."

The head of the EU parliament, Jerzy Buzek, chose similar words.

"We have woken up in a more secure world. Although the fight of the international community against terrorists is not over, an important step has been made in the fight against al Qaeda, to give security to millions of people: Christians, Muslims, all those who believe in peaceful coexistence," he said.

But not all members of the EU parliament met the news with similar enthusiasm.

Finnish Green MEP Heidi Hautala, chairwoman of the human rights committee in the EU legislature, told this website that it would have been "much better if he was brought to justice alive."

"I am sure the discussion will continue, including in the European Parliament, as to why it was needed for him to be killed. The aim should have been not to wage a war against al Qaeda and countries suspected of giving them protection, but to make terrorism an issue of international criminal justice."

Hautala also said Washington should use the moment to close its detention centre in Cuba where many terrorist suspects have been held for years without trial.

"It is not surprising. Perhaps it is also a moment for the US now after they have achieved this to put their own detention policies up to date with international standards and close Guantanamo once and for all, after it caused so much justified anger against the western world," she said.

Meanwhile, Usackas also warned that: "the fight against international terrorism is not over. The root causes of international terrorism will need to be addressed and it will require resolve and staying power by the US, European Union and broader International Community."

With the US and UK quickly issuing an alert for all American and British citizens travelling abroad to be on their guard for possible revenge attacks, the news could also spell added danger to four French citizens currently being held by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Update: the article was updated at 11am Brussels time to add the Van Rompuy and Barroso joint statement

UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland

The EU warning comes after the UK government escalated the conflict over the Northern Ireland protocol — a set of post-Brexit trade rules — by saying it will unilaterally pass a law to change the EU-UK trade treaty.

Hungary wants EU billions for Russia oil-ban deal

Hungary is continuing to block an EU oil embargo on Russia, but there is optimism its objections can soon be overcome — perhaps within a few days to "a week or two", according to some EU foreign ministers.

UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

British foreign secretary Liz Truss said the UK has "no choice but to act" on the Northern Ireland protocol governing post-Brexit trade during a call with EU Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič — who warned unilateral action was "simply not acceptable".

UK threatens to scrap post-Brexit trade deal

The UK rejected proposals by the EU to tweak the protocol governing trade in Northern Ireland, and has threatened to suspend the rules as loyalists lost their majority in the Northern Ireland elections.

Syria donor conference shuns Russia

Russia was not invited to an international donor conference on Syria in Brussels given its war in Ukraine. Moscow had also recently threatened to veto a humanitarian corridor from Turkey to Syria.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

Opinion

Is EU 'Horizon' science funding going towards Pegasus spyware?

MEPs have raised questions about the involvement of the EU — through its funding — in the development of the Israeli NSO Pegasus software, directly or indirectly, which has been used to target activists and journalists in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato
  2. Poland backs Hungary over frozen 'rule of law' EU funds
  3. EU to reduce size and scope of Mali military mission
  4. Band members testify about Bataclan attack
  5. German prosecutors want five years for alleged ex-Nazi guard
  6. UN urges Iran to halt execution of Swedish-Iranian academic
  7. EU: legal Russian gas payments possible, but not in roubles
  8. McDonald's to sell up and exit Russia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  2. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  3. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses
  4. UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland
  5. Rescue crew face 20 years jail for saving migrants
  6. Roma refugees from Ukraine face Czech xenophobia
  7. EU not doing enough to help Ukraine, Yellen says
  8. MEPs raise ambition on EU carbon market reform

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us