The death of the world’s most wanted terrorist, killed in a U.S. special operation, has grabbed headlines across Switzerland as all the major newspapers focused their coverage on the historical event.
The leading Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung welcomed the news of the Sunday night raid in Pakistan, but warned that the CIA is now intensifying its hunt for al Qaida’s reputed N.2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the elusive Egyptian surgeon widely expected to take bin Laden’s place at the helm of the terror organization.
In an editorial, the paper also said the death of bin Laden is “a redeeming breakthrough” for the United States and Barack Obama, adding that the death of such an iconic figure for Islamic terrorism is likely to pave the way for the president's re-election.
The Italian-language Corriere del Ticino also stresses the value of the successful intelligence operation to Obama's re-election chances.
“The rekindling of patriotism saves Obama from the criticism he faced for his management of the economy and turns him from a half-weak president to a commander in chief who is able to take back from the Republicans the status of guardian of national security.”
The news was welcomed with spontaneous and jubilant gatherings across the United States, with thousands of people chanting and celebrating in the streets in New York and Washington DC.
Some French-speaking Swiss newspapers instead led with questions on why bin Laden was killed instead of arrested and why his body was disposed of so quickly. According to reports, bin Laden’s body was buried at sea shortly after the raid, in compliance with Muslim tradition that urges burial within 24 hours from the death.
No photos or videos of the body have yet surfaced, and conspiracy theorists demanding proof that bin Laden was indeed killed are getting wild on the Internet.
“Barack Obama’s version on the death of Osama bin Laden surely does not correspond to the exact reality,” Hasni Abidi, the head of the Geneva-based think-tank the Study and Research Centre for the Arab and Mediterranean World (CERMAM) was quoted as saying by the Tribune de Genève paper.