OYES earns Aregbesola award in UK, promises Osun more goodies

The decision by the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to employ 20,000 youths under the Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme, has earned him an award of recognition in the United Kingdom.

The governor, on Thursday in London, was awarded Leadership Recognition for Youth Empowerment at a ceremony organised by the United Kingdom chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, chairman of the chapter, Dr. Ayodele Owoade, said the employment of 20,000 youths at once in a state that had been rendered prostrate by inept administration of the Peoples Democratic Party had given enough indication of the readiness of the administration to restore hopes of the people.

“It is a record-breaking achievement; employing 20000 youths in one go. This feat has never been achieved by any government anywhere in Africa before now. Aregbesola has restored hope and self-esteem to these youths who now walk about with a lot more swagger.

In his speech, Ogbeni Aregbesola thanked ACN UK for honouring him. He also praised the chapter for its contribution in internationalising the struggle during Obasanjo’s 3rd term agenda as well as championing the cause for electoral reforms.

Promising the people of Osun State greater more goodies, the governor said, “This is just the beginning as we are poised to show our people that leadership is all about service. And people must also realise that in them really the power resides. Without the people, leadership has no meaning. It is for that reason that we in the new administration have promised that we shall not let them down.”

Dignitaries present included Cardinal Odunmbaku (Baba Eto), Senator-elect Jide Omoworare, Former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State, Mr. Dele Alake, Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye (Commissioner for Local Govt Lagos State), Mr. Toyin Hamsat (Special Adviser on Health Lagos State), Prince Ghasali Adeyemi (Chairman, Ghazal Holiday Inn, Osogbo), as well as the Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairmen from Osogbo, Olorunda, Ilesa-West, Iwo and Ede South.

Breaking news: Al Qaeda Confirms Osama Bin Laden’s Death


Al Qaeda have confirmed Osama Bin Laden’s death in a statement posted on jihadist internet forums.

According to the U.S. monitoring group SITE Intelligence, coming five days after the Pakistan raid, the terror group in a statement warned their leader’s “blood will not be wasted” and attacks on American and its allies will continue.

The statement, as translated by SITE.

Bin Laden’s death will serve as a “curse that chases the Americans and their agents, and goes after them inside and outside their countries,” the message said.

“Soon – with help from Allah – their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears,” it said.

Al Qaeda will “continue on the path of jihad, the path walked upon by our leaders, and on top of them” bin Laden “without hesitation or reluctance.”


Obama: why US won’t release bin Laden’s photo

 Our Reporter


The United States will not release the picture of the late Osama bin Laden’s body, President Barack Obama said yesterday.

He spoke during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes”.

Obama was persuaded by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that releasing the images would pose a national security risk, White House officials said.

“We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies. There is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with the CBS News programme, according to a transcript read to reporters by White House press secretary Jay Carney. “We don’t need to spike the football,” he also quoted the US President as saying.

After intense discussions with his national security team, Mr. Obama decided that the photos were too graphic and could further enflame Bin Laden’s followers, according to Mr. Carney, but would not change the minds of skeptics. Mr. Obama indicated in the interview that gloating by releasing the photos “is not who we are,” Mr. Carney said.

The debate over whether to release photos of Bin Laden had consumed the White House over the last two days. Some senior officials said the release of photos was inevitable. On Tuesday, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Panetta said he did not think “there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.”

But officials at the Pentagon and State Department expressed qualms about releasing gruesome photos of Bin Laden’s bloodied body, and when the decision was made on Wednesday, “the majority of opinions” within the administration favoured withholding the photos, Mr. Carney said.

Some argued that no matter what the photos showed, they would not silence those who doubt that Bin Laden was killed in the American raid on a fortified house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, early on Monday, which the administration says is established beyond question. “The fact is, you will not see Osama bin Laden walking this earth again,” Mr. Obama said in the interview, according to the transcript.

Mr. Carney added at the briefing that the administration felt no need to release the photos to establish that Bin Laden was dead, and that the President had decided it was not “necessary or prudent” to release them.

Some lawmakers expressed similar views, saying that releasing the photos would serve little purpose and could endanger American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Imagine how the American people would react if al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the Internet,” said Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy. He is dead, and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaeda has been eliminated.”

Obama will take part in today’s wreath-laying ceremony at the Sept. 11 memorial in lower Manhattan. He is also scheduled to meet with relatives of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, but he will not make a speech. The White House invited former President Goerge W. Bush to accompany Mr. Obama in New York, but Mr. Bush declined, his spokesman said.

Emerging details revealed that after members of the Navy Seals shot and killed Bin Laden, they found that he had money — 500 euros (about $746) — and two telephone numbers sewn into his robes. That suggested that Bin Laden had an escape plan, which he was not able to carry out when American helicopters landed in the compound.

The United States also said yesterday that killing the al Qaeda leader was an act of national self-defence, countering allegations the raid by U.S. commandos on his Pakistani hide-out was illegal.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said bin Laden was a legitimate military target and he had made no attempt to surrender to the American forces that stormed his fortified compound.

“It was justified as an act of national self-defence,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee, citing bin Laden’s admission of being involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

It was lawful to target bin Laden because he was the enemy commander in the field and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with U.S. laws and values, he said, adding that it was a “kill or capture mission.”

“If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate,” he said.

U.S. acknowledgment on Tuesday that bin Laden was unarmed when shot dead had raised accusations Washington had violated international law. Exact circumstances of his death remained unclear and could yet fuel controversy, especially in the Muslim world.

As the U.S. continued to be under pressure to release photos it had taken of bin Laden’s body to the public, one Senator said she had seen one picture showing his face.

“I have seen one of them,” Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte said, adding she believed it confirmed his identity.

Pakistan faced national embarrassment, a leading Islamabad newspaper said, in explaining how the world’s most-wanted man was able to live for years in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, just north of the capital.

Pakistan blamed worldwide intelligence lapses for a failure to detect bin Laden, while Washington worked to establish whether its ally had sheltered the al Qaeda leader, which Islamabad vehemently denies.

“There is an intelligence failure of the whole world, not just Pakistan alone,” Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told reporters in Paris. “(If there are) … lapses from the Pakistan side, that means there are lapses from the whole world.

The revelation that bin Laden was unarmed contradicted an earlier U.S. account that he had participated in a firefight with the helicopter-borne American commandos. Al Arabiya television went further, suggesting the architect of the 9/11 attacks was first taken prisoner and then shot.

“A security source in the Pakistani security quoted the daughter of Osama bin Laden that the leader of al Qaeda was not killed inside his house, but had been arrested and was killed later,” the Arabic television station said.

Pakistan has welcomed bin Laden’s death, but its Foreign Ministry expressed deep concerns about the raid, which it called an “unauthorized unilateral action.”

The CIA said it kept Pakistan out of the loop because it feared bin Laden would be tipped off, highlighting the depth of mistrust between the two supposed allies.

U.S. helicopters carrying the commandos used radar “blind spots” in the hilly terrain along the Afghan border to enter Pakistani airspace undetected in the early hours of Monday.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn compared the latest humiliation with the admission in 2004 that one of the country’s top scientists had sold its nuclear secrets. “Not since Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed to transferring nuclear technology to Iran and Libya has Pakistan suffered such an embarrassment,” it said.

The streets around bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad remained sealed off yesterday, with police and soldiers allowing only residents to pass through.

“It’s a crime but what choice are you left with if I’m not handing over your enemy who is hiding in my house?” said Hussain Khan, a retired government official living nearby, when asked about the apparent violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. “Obviously you will go and get him yourself.”

Osama Bin Laden Killed In Pakistan


The most prominent face of terror in America and beyond, Osama Bin Laden, has been killed in Pakistan, U.S. officials said Sunday night.

Bin Laden was the leader of al Qaeda, the terrorist network behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. U.S. officials said that their forces have the body of bin Laden.

The enormity of the destruction — the World Trade Center’s towers devastated by two hijacked airplanes, the Pentagon partially destroyed by a third hijacked jetliner, a fourth flight crashed in rural Pennsylvania, and more than 3,000 people killed — gave bin Laden a global presence.

The Saudi-born zealot commanded an organization run like a rogue multinational firm, experts said, with subsidiaries operating secretly in dozens of countries, plotting terror, raising money and recruiting young Muslim men — even boys — from many nations to its training camps in Afghanistan.

He used the fruits of his family’s success — a personal fortune estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars — to help finance al Qaeda in its quest for a new pan-Islamic religious state. How much bin Laden got in the settlement of the family estate is still a matter of contention. Estimates range from tens of millions to hundreds of millions.

Even before September 11, bin Laden was already on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

He had been implicated in a series of deadly, high-profile attacks that had grown in their intensity and success during the 1990s.

They included a deadly firefight with U.S. soldiers in Somalia in October 1993, the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 224 in August 1998, and an attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in October 2000.

Bin Laden eluded capture for years, once reportedly slipping out of a training camp in Afghanistan just hours before a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles destroyed it.

On September 11, sources said, the evidence immediately pointed to bin Laden. Within days, those close to the investigation said they had their proof.

Six days after the attack, President George W. Bush made it clear Osama bin Laden was the No. 1 suspect.

“I want justice,” Bush said. “There’s an old poster out West that said, ‘Wanted, dead or alive.'”

Osama bin Laden was born in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1957, the 17th of 52 children in a family that had struck it rich in the construction business.

His father, Mohamed bin Laden, was a native of Yemen, who immigrated to Saudi Arabia as a child. He became a billionaire by building his company into the largest construction firm in the Saudi kingdom.

As Saudi Arabia became flush with oil money, so, too, did the bin Laden family business, as Osama’s father cultivated and exploited connections within the royal family.

One of the elder bin Laden’s four wives — described as Syrian in some accounts — was Osama’s mother. The young bin Laden inherited a share of the family fortune at an early age after his father died in an aircraft accident.

The bin Ladens were noted for their religious commitment. In his youth, Osama studied with Muslim scholars. Two of the family business’ most prestigious projects also left a lasting impression: the renovations of mosques at Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest places.

As a young man attending college in Jeddah, Osama’s interest in religion started to take a political turn. One of his professors was Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian scholar who was a key figure in the rise of a new pan-Islamic religious movement.

Azzam founded an organization to help the mujahedeen fighting to repel the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Bin Laden soon became the organization’s top financier, using his family connections to raise money. He left as a volunteer for Afghanistan at 22, joining the U.S.-backed call to arms against the Soviets.

He remained there for a decade, using construction equipment from his family’s business to help the Muslim guerrilla forces build shelters, tunnels and roads through the rugged Afghan mountains, and at times taking part in battle.

In the late 1980s, bin Laden founded al Qaeda, Arabic for “the base,” an organization that CNN terrorism analyst and author Peter Bergen says had fairly prosaic beginnings. One of its purposes was to provide documentation for Arab fighters who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, including death certificates.

Al Qaeda, under bin Laden’s leadership, ran a number of guesthouses for these Arab fighters and their families. It also operated training camps to help them prepare for the fight against the Soviets.

In the early 1990s, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, bin Laden turned his sights on the world’s remaining superpower — the United States. War-hardened and victorious, he returned to Saudi Arabia following the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan.
In a 1997 CNN interview, bin Laden declared a “jihad,” or “holy war,” against the United States.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait provided the next turning point in Osama bin Laden’s career.

When the United States sent troops to Saudi Arabia for battle against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War, bin Laden was outraged. He had offered his own men to defend the Saudi kingdom but the Saudi government ignored his plan.

He began to target the United States for its presence in Saudi Arabia, home to the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina. With bin Laden’s criticisms creating too much friction with the Saudi government, he and his supporters left for Sudan in 1991.

There, according to U.S. officials, al Qaeda began to evolve into a terror network, with bin Laden at its helm. Tapping into his personal fortune, bin Laden operated a range of businesses involved in construction, farming and exporting.

Although the U.S. government was unaware of it at the time, bin Laden was already actively working against it.

According to court testimony, he sent one of his top lieutenants, Mohammed Atef, to help train Somalis to attack U.S. peacekeeping troops stationed there. Bin Laden would later hint, during an interview with CNN, of his involvement in the deaths of 18 U.S. Army Rangers in 1993 in Mogadishu.

Also in 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in New York, killing six and wounding hundreds. Eventually, bin Laden would be named along with many others as an unindicted co-conspirator in that case. The mastermind of the attack, Ramzi Yousef, would later be revealed to have close ties to al Qaeda.

In 1996, bin Laden took his war against the United States a step further. By then, he had been stripped of his Saudi citizenship and forced by Sudanese officials, under pressure from the United States, to leave that country. He returned to Afghanistan where he received harbor from the fundamentalist Taliban, who were ruling the country.

By then, the United States had begun to recognize a growing threat from bin Laden, citing him as a financier of terrorism in a government report.

According to reports, however, the U.S. government passed up a Sudanese government offer to turn over bin Laden, because at the time it had no criminal charges against him.

The Saudis, according to an interview with their former intelligence chief in Time magazine, also declined to take custody of bin Laden.

In Afghanistan in 1996, bin Laden issued a “fatwa,” or a religious order, entitled “Declaration of War Against Americans Who Occupy the Lands of the Two Holy Mosques.”

“There is no more important thing than pushing the American occupier out,” decreed the fatwa, which praised Muslim youths willing to die to accomplish that goal: “Youths only want one thing, to kill (U.S. soldiers) so they can get to Paradise.”

In his first interview with Western media in 1997, bin Laden told CNN that the United States was “unjust, criminal and tyrannical.”

“The U.S. today, as a result of the arrogant atmosphere, has set a double standard, calling whoever goes against its injustice a terrorist,” he said in the interview. “It wants to occupy our countries, steal our resources, impose on us agents to rule us.”

In February 1998, he expanded his target list, issuing a new fatwa against all Americans, including civilians.

They were to be killed wherever they might be found anywhere in the world, he decreed. This new fatwa announced the creation of the “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders” and was co-signed by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Egypt’s al-Jihad terrorist group.

Six months later, explosions destroyed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring 4,000 more.

U.S. prosecutors later indicted bin Laden for masterminding those attacks.
By the time three hijacked airliners struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, symbols of the U.S. business and military might, bin Laden’s terror network had become global in its reach.

The organization soon became America’s prime target in Bush’s war against global terrorism. Bin Laden, its founder, became the most-wanted man in the world.

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained al Qaeda’s network this way:

“Osama bin Laden is the chairman of the holding company, and within that holding company are terrorist cells and organizations in dozens of countries around the world, any of them capable of committing a terrorist act.”

“It’s not enough to get one individual, although we’ll start with that one individual,” Powell said.

In statements released from his hideouts in Afghanistan after September 11, bin Laden denied al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks.

A videotape of bin Laden later obtained and released by the U.S. government, however, showed him saying he knew the September 11 attacks were coming, chuckling and gloating about their toll. Even with his knowledge of the construction trade, he said with a smile, he did not expect the twin towers of the World Trade Center to collapse completely.

Speaking in an earlier video recording that was first broadcast over the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera, bin Laden said America is “filled with fear from the north, south, east and west. Thank God for that.”

“These events have split the world into two camps — belief and disbelief,” he said.

“America will never dream or know or taste security or safety unless we know safety and security in our land and in Palestine.”

Bin Laden had taken advantage of his time in Afghanistan, cementing his ties to the Taliban.

He was particularly close to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. He built a mansion in Kandahar but spent most of his time on the move around the country, according to intelligence sources.

Al Qaeda had a network of training camps and safe houses where recruits from around the world were brought for combat and weapons training and indoctrination.

As long as the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, bin Laden, his four wives and more than 10 children were able to avoid capture.

Before September 11, the Afghan government refused U.S. requests to turn over bin Laden. “Osama’s protection is our moral and Islamic duty,” one Taliban official was quoted as saying in July 2001.

As the United States bombing campaign helped the Afghan opposition drive the Taliban from power, however, bin Laden’s days were numbered.

The reward on his head grew to $25 million. Countless leaflets advertising the bounty were dropped from U.S. airplanes, which flew with impunity over Afghan skies.

“We’re hunting him down,” Bush said on November 19, 2001. “He runs and he hides, but as we’ve said repeatedly, the noose is beginning to narrow. The net is getting tighter.”

But he eluded U.S. and allied authorities during the war in Afghanistan, vanishing in December 2001, apparently fleeing during the intensive bombing campaign in the rugged Tora Bora region near the border with Pakistan.

“He’s alive or dead. He’s in Afghanistan or somewhere else,” then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in April 2002 when asked about bin Laden’s whereabouts.
No more videos showing bin Laden were released during the spring and summer of 2002 and there was speculation that he may have died during U.S. bombing raids in Afghanistan.

But audiotapes released in October and November 2002 and broadcast on Al-Jazeera were allegedly were from him. U.S. government experts analyzed the tapes and said the voice on the tapes was almost certainly bin Laden’s.

On February 11, 2002, a new audio message purportedly from bin Laden called on Muslims around the world to show solidarity against U.S.-led military action in Iraq.

The tape was broadcast on Al Jazeera, which originally denied its existence. The voice on tape added that any nation that helps the United States attack Iraq, “(Has) to know that they are outside this Islamic nation. Jordan and Morocco and Nigeria and Saudi Arabia should be careful that this war, this crusade, is attacking the people of Islam first.”

Courtesy of CNN.

How Obama Killed Osama – Government Sources


SAN FRANCISCO, May 01, (THEWILL) – Slain leader of Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden, 54, was killed inside a mansion valued at $1 million dollars in an affluent city called Abbottabad, Pakistan, security sources told CNN on Sunday night.

Osama Bin Laden was living in the mansion, which sources said is located in a community where retired Pakistani senior military officers have their homes. The compound is said to be about 8 times larger than those of his neighbours; with 12-18 ft high walls and barb wires protecting the property.

A trusted courier of Bin Laden whose pseudonym was obtained before the 9/11 bombing by US intelligence was helping him hide from capture. The real name of the courier alongside that of his brother was obtained in 2007 and their residence was located in 2010 in Abbottabad –the unsual mansion where Bin Laden made his abode.

The compound was built in 2005 and had no telephone lines or internet access, which made intelligence sources curious.

Sources also said that while neigbours put their trash cans outside to be emptied by the dustbin disposal company, the bin in Osama’s compound was always burnt, which also aroused suspicion.

A small team of US Navy Seals raided the 3-storey compound in military choppers on Sunday night (Pakistani time) and shot Bin Laden in the head killing him instantly during a gunfight. Sources say a woman Osama used as a human shield was killed in the operation, while 3 others (the courier, his brother and one of Bin Laden’s sons) were also killed.

A body believed to be Osama Bin Laden’s 6ft 4 inches dead body was extracted thereafter from the property and tests were conducted to ascertain that it was indeed Bin Laden.

Government sources told CNN that he has been buried according to Islamic tradition.

The dangerous operation which saw special forces fly into Pakistan from Afghanistan lasted for about 40 minutes.

One US chopper was destroyed in the operation by US Seal officers after it developed a technical fault.

US President Barack Obama in a televised speech said his demise should be welcomed by all those who love peace and justice.


THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Howard Dean To Obama: Get Out Of Afghanistan!

Howard Dean to Obama: Get Out of Afghanistan!The former Democratic boss says the Afghanistan war is not winnable, the Kabul government is corrupt, and Karzai is almost as bad on women’s rights as the Taliban. In an interview with The Daily Beast’s McKay Coppins, the emboldened pol also blasts Tea Party radicals on the budget.
Howard Dean has sounded awfully hawkish lately.
With the U.S. military engaged in three separate Middle Eastern conflicts, Dean—the former governor of Vermont who rallied grassroots Democrats in 2004 by fervently condemning the Iraq war—has been notably absent from the left-wing criticism of President Obama’s defense policy. Once an anti-war icon, Dean has spent the past two years applauding the administration’s troop surge in Afghanistan, defending the slow withdrawal from Iraq, and endorsing the military intervention in Libya.
But now, it appears, Dean is returning to his pacifistic roots—and he has a message for President Obama: Get our troops out of Afghanistan.
In a weekend interview with The Daily Beast, Dean said he’s had a change of heart when it comes to the war he has often defended. “I actually supported the president when he sent extra troops to Afghanistan,” Dean said. “But I’ve come to believe that’s not a winnable war.”
Dean attributes his newly-held opposition to a crisis of faith in Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai—and in the war’s humanitarian value.
“The Vietnam War showed us we shouldn’t prop up corrupt governments, and that’s what we’ve got in Afghanistan.”
“I supported (ramping up troop presence) because I was concerned with what would happen to the women in the country” if the Taliban took control, Dean said. “But I recently read about Karzai saying some very sexist, terrible things, and it’s become obvious that there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two sides.”
He continued: “As much as I feel terrible about what’s happening to the women there, Karzai has shown he can’t be trusted any more than the Taliban to help them.”
Dean didn’t specify what Karzai had done to draw such sharp criticism, but the prime minister has taken heat recently from women’s rights advocates, who say he’s bending to Taliban pressure at the expense of the country’s women.
In just one example of the Taliban’s influence, Karzai’s government has recently begun cracking down on weddings—forming committees to enforce gender segregation at receptions, and working to outlaw “revealing” bridal gowns. Of course, such measures are relatively tame when compared with the brutality of past Taliban governments, but some say the efforts are symbolic of Karzai’s apathetic attitude toward women’s liberation. As feminist commentator Ruby Hamad recently wrote, “Karzai has proved himself to be ambivalent toward women’s rights.”
And without substantial gains in that area, Dean said, he sees no value in continuing to fight in the region: “The Vietnam War showed us we shouldn’t prop up corrupt governments, and that’s what we’ve got in Afghanistan.”
He is careful not to frame his argument as an attack on the White House, insisting he supports the president even though “we’re going to disagree sometimes on policy.”

South Looks To Recover From Killer Twisters

Lowe’s store manager Michael Hollowell had heard the tornado warnings but his first clue that the danger was outside his front door came when he saw his staff running toward the back of the home improvement store.
More than 100 employees and customers screamed in near unison when the steel roof curled off overhead Saturday. The store was becoming part of the wreckage left by a ferocious storm system bristling with killer twisters that ripped through the South.
“You could hear all the steel ripping. People screaming in fear for their lives,” Hollowell told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Those in the store did not become part of the death toll that totaled at least 45 across six states, and officials said quick action by Hollowell and his employees helped them all make it out alive in Sanford, about 40 miles south of Raleigh.
In all of Lee County, where Sanford is located, officials said there was just one confirmed fatality during the storm, which claimed at least 21 lives statewide, damaged hundreds of homes and left a swath of destruction unmatched by any spring storm since the mid-1980s.
In Raleigh early Monday, authorities were blocking access to a mobile home park of about 200 homes where three children were killed. Officials planned to assess conditions after sunrise before deciding whether to allow residents to return home.
Power lines and trees still covered nearby roads. Where roads were clear, there were massive piles of debris that had been pushed to the side of the street.
Gov. Beverly Perdue said Monday morning on NBC’s “Today” show that she’d never seen anything like the devastation, saying it appeared that homes had been handled like paper doll houses. Search-and-rescue teams were still operating all over the eastern part of the state, and federal officials were beginning their damage assessments, she said.
“The good news is that the tornados have left and things are brighter today in North Carolina,” Perdue said.
Meanwhile, survivors recalled miraculous escapes.
In the Bladen County community of Ammon, about 70 miles south of Raleigh, Audrey McKoy and her husband Milton saw a tornado bearing down on them over the tops of the pine trees that surround the seven or eight mobile homes that make up their neighborhood. He glanced at a nearby farm and saw the winds lifting pigs and other animals in the sky.
“It looked just like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Audrey said.
They took shelter in their laundry room, and after emerging once the storm had passed, were disoriented for a moment. The twister had turned their mobile home around and they were standing in their backyard.
Milton found three bodies in their neighborhood, including 92-year-old Marchester Avery and his 50-year-old son, Tony, who died in adjacent mobile homes. He stopped his wife from coming over to see.
“You don’t want to look at this,” he told her.
The storms crushed trailer parks and brought life in the center of the state’s second-largest city to a virtual standstill. It was the worst outbreak in the state since 22 twisters in 1984 killed 42 people.
Perdue planned to tour hard-hit areas in three counties Monday. The devastation she saw Sunday left her near tears, she said. The storm pummeled bustling cities and remote rural communities. One of Perdue’s stops was downtown Raleigh, where fallen trees blocked major thoroughfares and damage to the Shaw University campus forced it to cancel the remainder of its spring semester.
Perdue said she’d been in contact with President Barack Obama, who pledged his support, and that federal emergency management workers were already on the ground.
“We have in North Carolina a tremendous relationship with our federal partners, and have been through this so many times,” she said. “That’s not a good thing. That’s a bad thing.”
One place Perdue was scheduled to visit was Bertie County, where storms were deadliest. At least 11 residents died, Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said, including three members of the same family.
Jean Burkett lived near Roy and Barbara Lafferty and Barbara’s mother, Helen White, in Colerain. Burkett and Barbara Lafferty graduated from high school together in 1964 and had always been neighbors. On Sunday, at her relatively untouched home, Burkett pointed out a row of four or five about 400 yards away that had been demolished. The Laffertys and Helen White died in their home.
“The neighborhood has lost some mighty fine neighbors,” Burkett said. “It’s the worst thing we’ve ever seen.”
The violent weather began Thursday in Oklahoma, where two people died, before cutting across the Deep South on Friday and hitting North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday. Authorities said seven people died in Arkansas; seven in Alabama; seven in Virginia; and one in Mississippi.
More than 240 tornadoes were reported from the storm system, including 62 in North Carolina, but the National Weather Service’s final numbers could be lower because some tornadoes may have been reported more than once.
The state emergency management agency said it had reports of 23 fatalities from Saturday’s storms, but local officials confirmed only 21 deaths to The Associated Press.
The conditions that allowed for the storm occur on the Great Plains maybe twice a year, but they almost never happen in North Carolina, according to Scott Sharp, a weather service meteorologist in Raleigh.
The atmosphere was unstable Saturday, which allows air to rise and fall quickly, creating winds of hurricane strength or greater. There was also plenty of moisture in the air, which fuels violent storms. Shear winds at different heights, moving in different directions, created the spin needed to create tornadoes, Sharp said.

Ivory Coast President: Strongman Will Face Charges

Ivory Coast’s president said Wednesday that the country’s arrested strongman will face charges “on a national level and an international level,” as the president attempts to restore order after a bloody four-month standoff.
Alassane Ouattara said strongman Laurent Gbagbo has been moved out of the Golf Hotel, where he was taken after his capture on Monday. He said Gbagbo will be kept in a villa and that his rights as a former head of state will be respected.
“Gbagbo is in a residence under surveillance somewhere in Ivory Coast,” Ouattara told reporters at the Golf Hotel.
The justice minister is preparing for possible prosecution of Gbagbo, he said, but gave no details.
“There will be charges (against Gbagbo) on a national level and an international level,” he said. “Reconciliation cannot happen without justice.”
Ouattara repeated his call against violence, and said that all minors being held should be released immediately.
“We need to secure the country, notably Abidjan,” he said. “It is important for the country to emerge from this crisis on top.”
Ouattara said he will settle into the presidential palace in the coming days, but that a swearing-in ceremony is not a priority and will take place at a later date. He said his priority is to provide security for Ivorians, to establish law and order and to get the country working. Many Ivorians went without food and water as fighting roiled the nation last week.
Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing a November election, leading to the standoff that plunged the West African nation into chaos and killed untold numbers of people. More than 1 million civilians fled their homes amid the fighting, which also disrupted the economy of the cocoa-producing powerhouse.
New footage obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday shows pro-Ouattara fighters storming Gbagbo’s residence.
The footage, shot by a pro-Ouattara fighter Monday during Gbagbo’s arrest, showed forces backing Ouattara walking through the front gate carrying firearms. Many are dressed in camouflage and wearing helmets, and some are crouched in shooting position. After orders from a commander, fighters entered the residence, shot at the lock on an orange door and forced themselves inside.
The footage shows fighters putting a camouflage flak jacket on Gbagbo. He and his wife are then escorted to a car with a tank sitting nearby. Gbagbo was then handed off to U.N. peacekeepers and taken to Ouattara’s Abidjan headquarters.
Ouattara on Wednesday also said that an investigation would be opened into mass killings that have occurred throughout the country.
Rights groups have accused pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara fighters of killings hundreds since March. Reprisal killings erupted as Ouattara’s fighters made a lightning assault to force Gbagbo from power. And despite Gbagbo’s detention, suspected Gbagbo supporters are still being rounded up in cities and villages, especially in western Ivory Coast.
No one knows how many people have been killed. A week ago when the United Nations was reporting more than 400 deaths throughout the country, the International Federation of the Red Cross Society said thousands had been killed and wounded.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet also said Wednesday that France will reduce its military force in the Ivory Coast from 1,700 to 980 troops as soon as possible. Longuet said French forces took a secondary role to Ouattara’s forces and the U.N. in capturing Gbagbo.
The French will not make any decision on an eventual pullout until at least June, he said, because the future of the French force will depend on the U.N. decision in June on whether to renew the mandate for its force.
“Patrols of Ivorian and French gendarmes will circulate in Abidjan to show that there is a state of law that is being put in place,” Longuet told a parliamentary hearing on Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
He said the head of the Ivorian gendarme service, the director of police, the chief of staff of the armed forces and the chief of staff of the army have all offered their services to Ouattara.

White House: Obama To Lay Out Spending Plan

President Barack Obama and Congress are shifting from short-term budget concerns to debates over the nation’s long-term economic future, and everything — from Medicare and Medicaid cuts to tax hikes for the wealthy — is on the table.
Much will be revealed at midweek, when the House and Senate are expected to vote on a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year and Obama unveils his plan to reduce the deficit, in part by scaling back the government’s chief health programs for seniors and the poor. The House, too, may vote on Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s spending plan for next year as Democrats readied arguments that it proposed “Draconian” cuts to Americans who need help the most.
Meanwhile, congressional officials were putting to paper a deal struck Friday night that would fund the government through September and cut $38.5 billion in spending. They were operating under a one-week extension of the budget, which passed the House and Senate in the last hour before the government was to begin shutting down.
The House’s 348-70 vote to extend funding a few days provided no guarantees for the measure being written Monday that would fund the government through the next six months, but leadership aides said they expected it to pass as early as Wednesday.
Whatever its fate, official Washington raced ahead to frame the upcoming fight over raising the nation’s debt limit and the election-year budget as a pair of interconnected battles that would make Friday’s nail-biter seem minor.
To be sure, the GOP had succeeded in turning what’s usually a fight over spending into a series of battles over spending cuts — a thematic victory for House Republicans swept to power by a populist mandate for smaller, more austere government.
“We’ve had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on “Fox News Sunday.”
Presidential adviser David Plouffe said Obama has long been committed to finding ways for the nation to spend within its means. He confirmed that the president would unveil more specifics for deficit reduction with a speech Wednesday that would reveal plans to reduce the government’s chief health programs for seniors and the poor.
“You’re going to have to look at Medicare and Medicaid and see what kind of savings you can get,” Obama adviser David Plouffe said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But he contrasted Obama’s approach to the Republicans in familiar terms.
“We can’t take a machete,” Plouffe said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We have to take a scalpel, and we’re going to have to cut, we’re going to have to look carefully.”
Away from the talk shows, congressional officials still were analyzing Friday’s vote to fund the government through the week.
The late hour of Friday’s handshake left lawmakers little time to react. House members of both parties who voted for a few days’ funding could not say on Sunday that they’d vote for the plan to fund the government through September.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who voted “yes” Friday to extend funding this week while the final compromise was written, said he was nonetheless undecided on whether he’d vote for the final deal. On ABC’s “This Week,” he said he didn’t think the six-month compromise would pass.

France Bans Face-covering Islamic Veil

France’s new ban on Islamic face veils was met with a burst of defiance Monday, as several women appeared veiled in front of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral and two were detained for taking part in an unauthorized protest.
France on Monday became the world’s first country to ban the veils anywhere in public, from outdoor marketplaces to the sidewalks and boutiques of the Champs-Elysees.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy set the wheels in motion for the ban nearly two years ago, saying the veils imprison women and contradict this secular nation’s values of dignity and equality. The ban enjoyed wide public support when it was approved by parliament last year.
Though only a very small minority of France’s at least 5 million Muslims wear the veil, many Muslims see the ban as a stigma against the country’s No. 2 religion.
About a dozen people, including three women wearing niqab veils with just a slit for the eyes, staged a protest in front of Notre Dame on Monday, saying the ban is an affront to their freedom of expression and religion.
Much larger crowds of police, journalists and tourists filled the square.
One of the veiled women was seen taken away in a police van. A police officer on the site told The Associated Press that she was detained because the protest was not authorized and the woman refused to disperse when police asked her to. The officer was not authorized to be publicly named.
The Paris police administration said another woman was also detained for taking part in the unauthorized demonstration.
It was unclear whether the women were fined for wearing a veil. The law says veiled women risk a euro150 ($215) fine or special citizenship classes, though not jail.
People who force women to don a veil are subject to up to a year in prison and a euro30,000 fine ($43,000), and possibly twice that if the veiled person is a minor.
The law is worded to trip safely through legal minefields: The words “women,” “Muslim” and “veil” are not even mentioned. The law says it is illegal to hide the face in the public space.
Moderate Muslim leaders in France and elsewhere agree that Islam does not require women to cover their faces, but many are uncomfortable with banning the veil. Religious leaders have denounced the measure, and are struggling with what to advise the faithful.
The plans for a ban prompted protests in Pakistan last year and warnings from al-Qaida. It also has devout Muslim tourists skittish, since it applies to visitors as well as French citizens.
Authorities estimate at most 2,000 women in France wear the outlawed veils. France’s Muslims number at least 5 million, the largest such population in western Europe.
The ban affects women who wear the niqab, which has just a slit for the eyes, and the burqa, which has a mesh screen over the eyes.
Kenza Drider, who lives in Avignon and wears a niqab, calls the ban racist. She was planning to attend Monday’s protest.
Right before the ban came into effect, she said she would continue to go “shopping, to the post office and to city hall if necessary. I will under no circumstance stop wearing my veil.”
“If I am warned verbally and must appear before the local prosecutor…. I will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights,” she told AP Television News.

Gaddafi Forces Shell Town After He Accepts Peace Plan

Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi shelled the besieged town of Misrata on Monday after the
African Union said he had accepted a plan to end Libya’s civil war.
Al Jazeera television quoted a rebel spokesman as saying five people died and 20 were wounded in Misrata, a lone rebel bastion in western Libya, which has been under siege for more than six weeks.
Rebels in Misrata told Reuters Gaddafi’s forces fired Russian-made Grad rockets into the city, where conditions for civilians are said to be desperate.
The insurgents said they would accept no plan that allowed Gaddafi to stay in power and prepared to advance on the eastern front after repelling a major government assault on Sunday against their town of Ajdabiyah.
Prospects for a ceasefire looked remote.
South African President Jacob Zuma, head of an AU peace mission, said early on Monday that Gaddafi had accepted a peace “road map,” including a ceasefire, after talks in Tripoli.
A spokesman in the rebel capital of Benghazi said the opposition would look at the plan but Gaddafi must end his 41-year rule.
“The Libyan people have made it very clear that Gaddafi must step down, but we will consider the proposal once we have more details, and respond,” spokesman Mustafa Gheriani told Reuters.
Libyan officials have repeatedly said that Gaddafi, who holds no official state position, will not quit.
The AU delegation went to Benghazi to confer with rebel leaders on Monday and was met by more than 2,000 demonstrators holding banners reading: “African Union take Gaddafi with you” and “Gaddafi has committed genocide.”
No Let-Up In Nato Attacks
Officials from NATO, which is bombing Libyan government armor under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians, said they took note of the AU proposal but the alliance would continue operations while civilians were at risk.
“It does not appear that this indication of a peace deal has any substance at this point,” said one NATO official in reference to the shelling of Misrata.
The African Union does not have a good track record in brokering peace deals, having failed recently to end conflict or disputes in Somalia, Madagascar and Ivory Coast.
“The issue of Gaddafi stepping down from any political position is a closed issue … Muammar Gaddafi does not hold a position of power,” Abdel Monem al-Lamoushi, a government spokesman, told Al Arabiya television.
“No one has the right to send Muammar Gaddafi into exile out of the land of his forefathers. This man will not leave Libya.”
At the front outside the eastern rebel town of Ajdabiyah, rebels buried the charred bodies of Gaddafi troops killed in air strikes and said they had been ordered to wait until noon to advance because new NATO bombing was expected.
Gheriani expressed surprise that Zuma did not travel to Benghazi with the four other African heads of state. Zuma said he had urgent business elsewhere.
NATO, which has denounced attacks by Libya’s forces on civilian areas, said only that it took note of the AU proposal.
The alliance stepped up attacks on Gaddafi’s armor over the weekend, destroying 25 tanks around Misrata and Ajdabiyah.
No Discussion On Gaddafi
An African Union statement after the Tripoli talks made no mention of Gaddafi’s future. Asked if the issue of him stepping aside was discussed, Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, told reporters: “There was some discussion.”
However he added: “I cannot report on confidential discussions because first of all I was not part of them.”
The AU proposal included an immediate cessation of hostilities, effective monitoring of the ceasefire, and the delivery of humanitarian aid and the protection of foreigners.
Asked if he feared rebels might reject the plan, Lamamra said: “We believe what we have proposed is broad enough to launch negotiations … What we need is for them to accept that we are people of good will.”
The rebels have previously rejected a negotiated outcome to what has become the bloodiest in a series of pro-democracy revolts across the Arab world that have ousted the autocratic leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.
NATO said it had increased the tempo of its air operations over the weekend, after rebels accused it of responding too slowly to government attacks.
The NATO attacks outside Ajdabiyah on Sunday helped break the biggest assault by Gaddafi’s forces on the eastern front for at least a week. The town is the gateway to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi 150 km (90 miles) north up the Mediterranean coast.
On Monday rebels were putting burned and mangled bodies into blankets by blackened government vehicles outside Ajdabiyah and dragging them into the desert for burial.
“We have been able to advance because of the air strikes,” said rebel Belgassim El-Awami. It was not clear how far west the rebels had moved along a front which has swung back and forth for more than a week in a fight for the oil port of Brega.

National Assembly Election Has Proved Omisore Wrong

Mr. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola was sworn-in as the democratically-elected governor of Osun State on the 27th of November, 2010 after what seemed an eternal battle to regain his stolen mandate from the illegally-installed government of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP).
With the landmark Appeal Court judgement that brought in the people’s governor, it was clear that the governorship ambition of the Ile-Ife politician, Senator Iyiola Omisore was slipping away before his very eyes and brought to an abrupt end.
With the Oke-Fia Government House out of his reach forever, Omisore pulled out every available weapon of propaganda out of his arsenal to discredit the new administration of Mr. Rauf Aregbesla.
Amongst one of his propaganda was that the governor; Mr. Aregbesola’s victory was judicial and it was not secured through the ballot, which was proper and legitimate.
Well, let me remind Senator Iyiola Omisore that in the 2007 gubernatorial elections in Osun State, the electorate voted massively for Rauf Aregbesola and indeed the Action Congress (AC) as it was called then because they desired a change, which they believed he could offer only that the powers that be from Abuja under the able guardianship of Professor Maurice Iwu and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo manipulated the whole process in the favour of the PDP.
To put the Senator where he belongs, once again the electorate in Osun had proved him wrong by voting massively for their choice party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) during the National Assembly elections of Saturday 9th April, 2011.
Since he is of the opinion that Mr. Aregbesola’s government came into being as a result of judicial backing, I dare say that he is wrong as the people of Osun State rightly demonstrated during last Saturday’s election. Good enough, these same members of the electorate are poised again to vote overwhelmingly for the party and candidates of their choice under the ACN.
By their singular act, they have proved Omisore wrong and all his ranting over Mr. Aregbesola’s government as being the baby of the Judiciary is baseless.
Omisore should humbly go and lick his wounds as the recently concluded National Assembly elections had proved him wrong. Mr. Aregbesola’s administration and the ACN have come to stay in Osun State.
•Kamorudeen Olalekan, Osogbo, Osun State.