US President Barack Obama [official profile] announced [statement] Sunday night that earlier in the day a small team of US military personnel attacked a compound in which al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [WP obituary; JURIST news archive] had been hiding, killing Bin Laden and taking possession of his body. Bin Laden had topped the US list of Most Wanted Terrorists [FBI backgrounder] and is believed to have approved or helped plan many notorious terror attacks including those against New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole [JURIST news archives], attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania [PBS backgrounder] in 1998 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Celebrations broke out across the US [USA Today report] as people learned the news of the al Qaeda leader's death, with large gatherings in front of the White House and at the former site of the World Trade Center. Political leaders across the globe expressed relief [BBC report] at Bin Laden's death. The US Department of State [official website] issued a worldwide travel alert [text] following Obama's announcement, urging US citizens abroad to be vigilant of their surroundings and recommending that those in areas of strong anti-American sentiment stay inside or close to their homes or hotels and avoid large gatherings. The alert also warned that some US embassies may adjust their schedules and services or even shut down briefly.
As founder and leader of al Qaeda [JURIST news archive], Bin Laden represents the highest profile terror target captured or killed by the US. Last month, the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced that alleged former al Qaeda chief in the Arabian Peninsula and accused mastermind of the USS Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [JURIST news archive] will be tried in a military court [JURIST report] rather than in a civilian criminal court. Also last month, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC report; JURIST news archive], a high-ranking al Qaeda member whom US officials say was principally responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks, will be tried by a military tribunal [JURIST report] as well. Mohammed has also admitted involvement in the 2002 beheading [JURIST report] of US journalist Daniel Pearl [JURIST news archive], the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The detention and treatment of accused al Qaeda members held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] has generated controversy in the US and throughout the world [JURIST reports].