May 3, 2011 / 12:06 AM / 6 years ago

Mix of joy, relief and anger at Bin Laden death

6 Min Read

<p>A man carries an American flag while walking to join a crowd gathered to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden at the construction site at Ground Zero in New York, May 2, 2011.Finbarr O'Reilly</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - - Survivors of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda attacks and relatives of victims welcomed his killing as the death of the devil on Monday but they also expressed anger and renewed grief for loved ones.

From Ground Zero where the Twin Towers were destroyed by hijacked planes in the September 11, 2001, attacks to a park outside the White House, people cheered the killing of the man most hated and reviled by Americans -- Osama bin Laden.

"Osama bin Laden had the devil's blood running through his veins and this is a joyous day for us," said Rosemary Cain, who lost her 35-year-old son at the World Trade Center.

Bin Laden was shot in the head by U.S. forces who stormed his compound in Pakistan after a decade-long manhunt during which he continually evaded capture.

Maureen Santora's 23-year-old son was killed in the 9/11 attacks but she said he was now "screaming and yelling and having a great time up in heaven today."

Some victims' family members also were upset bin Laden was living in apparent luxury and not cowed in a cave. They were angry, too, that his remains were disposed of respectfully, reminding them of unresolved fights over New York's memorial.

The news of bin Laden's death, announced by President Barack Obama late on Sunday, was greeted on American streets with jubilation, relief, closure and prayers for his victims.

"I never figured I'd be excited about someone's death," said firefighter Michael Carroll, 27, at Ground Zero, whose father, also a fireman, died in the September 11 attacks. "It's finally here. It feels good."

"He Murdered My Brother"

There also was visceral hatred expressed bluntly.

"I would like to have pissed on his body ... He murdered my brother," said John Cartier, 42, an electrician who survived the attacks and was holding a picture of his brother James Cartier, who was 26 when he died at the World Trade Center.

At the site, which is still years from being rebuilt and where an emotional 10th anniversary is planned, hundreds sang "The Star Spangled Banner." Some popped champagne, others drank beer, some threw rolls of toilet paper.

"It was like a frat party. It was an excuse for people to ... proclaim ourselves as No. 1," said Sebastian Slayter, 22, who saw the 9/11 attacks from a few blocks away. "It didn't seem like anyone was searching for any knowledge ... we should be celebrating for the right reasons: The monster is dead."

But celebrations were tempered as old wounds reopened.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York noted a decade after the attacks, which killed 343 New York firefighters, more than 100 firefighters have since died from toxic exposures, and many others are chronically ill.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged Americans to reject intolerance after a Portland, Maine, mosque was daubed with anti-Islam graffiti; "Osama today, Islam tomorrow (sic)."

Stuart Kestenbaum of Maine, whose brother Howard died in the World Trade Center said, "There is a sense of closure but also of awe at all the loss that followed the original loss ... so I didn't feel celebratory, more reflective."

Nearly 3,000 people died when planes hijacked by bin Laden's followers flew into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. The attacks shocked the world and sparked a hunt for the plot's architect.

Bin Laden had been in hiding since he eluded U.S. forces and Afghan militia in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in 2001. He had taunted the West and directed militant Islamist activities with taped messages from his hideout.

The announcement of bin Laden's death and his speedy burial at sea had the potential to set off conspiracy theorists.

"It has unfortunately opened this up to the possibility of conspiracy theories," said Rosaleen Tallon, who lost her brother on 9/11.

Survivors of other al Qaeda attacks were grateful.

"Very well done to the Yanks. They deserve their praise," Sean Cassidy, whose 22-year-old son Ciaran was killed in the 2005 London bombings, told the BBC.

Al Qaeda first struck in East Africa in 1998, killing hundreds, mostly Africans, in suicide bombing at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. "Kenyans are happy and thank the U.S. people, the Pakistani people and everybody else who managed to kill Osama," Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said.

Amid the euphoria, world leaders and security experts noted the threat of terrorism remained and urged vigilance.

John Falding, whose partner Anat Rosenberg was killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Tavistock Square, London, told the BBC: "There are plenty more willing to fill his shoes."

Watching the flag-waving on television in New York, Donna Marsh O'Connor, whose pregnant daughter died in the September 11 attack, said she saw little reason to celebrate.

"Osama bin Laden is dead and so is my daughter," she said. "His death didn't bring her back."

(Additional reporting by Vicky Buffery and Alexandria Sage in Paris, Avril Ormbsy in London and Basil Katz, Zachary Goelman and Daniel Trotta in New York, Mark Felsenthal in Washington; Writing by Mark Egan; Editing by Bill Trott)

This story was corrected in paragraph 20 to make clear quote is from Rosaleen Tallon and not Sally Regenhard

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