A beefed-up battalion of security was ordered around the rural Kenyan home of President Obama’s grandmother following the fatal shooting of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“We received reports of plans to attack the home of Mama Sarah Obama and we immediately put in place adequate security measures,” local police chief Stephen Cheteka told the African Review, a Kenyan paper.
In the U.S., news of bin Laden’s killing set off an emotional rally of thousands in the capital city and in NYC at Ground Zero, the site of the fallen Twin Towers. But in Africa, fears of retaliation by the surviving al-Qaida network were uppermost in the minds of many citizens.
“The loss of [al-Qaeda’s] leader may first upset the movement but then it will regroup and continue,” said Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Douglas Sidialo, blinded by shards of flying glass in the bombing of the U.S. mission in Nairobi in 1998, said bin Laden’s death was “justice from the maker (God). However, I would rather he had been captured and confessed to his evil deeds… I fear this might trigger renewed recruitment amongst those who view bin Laden as a martyr.”
South African journalist Julian Rademeyer shared the view. “In death, the myth of bin Laden lives on. Would’ve been preferable that he stood trial and could be seen for what he was.”
Prof Mwesiga Baregu, a political analyst at St Augustine University in Tanzania, concurred. “They should have tried to capture him alive.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister of Mali Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga warned: “‘The event raises the risk in the short term of a headlong rush by the movement. We have to be careful – particularly in the next three to six months.”