U.S. President Barack Obama last night stood in the East Room of the White House and told a breathless nation that CIA operatives had killed Osama bin Laden after a firefight in Pakistan on Sunday. According to reports, the world’s most wanted terrorist was hiding in plain sight in a large mansion in an affluent suburb outside Islamabad. Even before the President’s announcement, jubilant crowds gathered at the White House and at Ground Zero in New York City, celebrating and chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A!” In the President’s words “justice has been done,” but now the question is: What does it mean? Al-Qaida is no longer contained in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan; they’ve spread to Iraq, Yemen and beyond. Will the death of bin Laden be anything but symbolic? How powerful is al-Qaida today and will groups sympathetic to bin Laden’s cause retaliate? With the fate of several Muslim countries in flux, how will this news affect uprisings in that part of the world? And finally, a decade after Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9-11 attacks, with the country mired in two increasingly unpopular wars in the Middle East, what does his death mean to us?
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