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10th Anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s Killing: Was Biden Against the Raid?

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The 9/11 terrorist attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden, killed at least 2,977 people, injured thousands more, and caused hundreds of deaths at the hands of cancers related to the rescue, recovery, and reconstruction efforts at Ground Zero in the months and years that followed.

Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden by US special forces.

On 2 May 2011, the then-al-Qaeda* leader was killed in a US Navy SEAL raid in an upscale neighbourhood in Pakistan, and reportedly buried at sea off the deck of a US aircraft carrier.

The raid came almost 10 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda against the United States that claimed the lives of at least 2,977 people and injured 6,000 others.


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AP Photo / Patrick Sison

Plumes of smoke pour from the World Trade Center buildings in New York Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Planes crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart Tuesday in a horrific scene of explosions and fires that left gaping holes in the 110-story buildings

The 9/11 attacks led the US to declare a war on terror, and to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Controversy, meanwhile, is still in place when it comes to Joe Biden’s attitude towards the special operation against bin Laden.

Earlier this year, the US president distanced himself from the claims that in 2011, he, vice president at the time, opposed the mission, asserting that the White House should wait for additional intelligence on bin Laden’s whereabouts before okaying the strike.

“Well, we did. The guy’s name was Osama bin Laden”, Biden told Fox News when asked whether he “would pull the trigger” if, as commander-in-chief, he was handed “a piece of intelligence that said you could stop an imminent attack on Americans — but you have to use an airstrike to take out a terror leader”.

“Didn’t you tell [then-US] President [Barack] Obama not to go after bin Laden that day?”, a Fox News host then asked and was followed by Biden saying “No, I didn’t”.


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AP Photo / File

Osama bin Laden, identified by the US as being the prime suspect in the attacks on the US, is shown in Afghanistan in this April 1998 file photo

Obama himself argued in his 2020 memoir titled “A Promised Land” that Biden advised him to wait before ordering the operation against bin Laden.

“Joe weighed in against the raid, arguing that given the enormous consequences of failure, I should defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound”, Obama noted in reference to the discussion over the Navy SEAL mission that he ordered on the night of 1-2 May 2011.

Writing about the aftermath of the mission, Obama notes, “as the helicopters took off, Joe placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed, saying ‘Congratulations, boss'”.

Speaking in a new CNN documentary, “President in Waiting”, released in 2020, Biden referred to Obama’s top advisers debating whether their intelligence was strong enough to start a raid against bin Laden. According to the former vice president, he said at the time, “president, follow your instincts about this”.

In the weeks that followed the 2 May 2011 strike, Biden insisted that he along with other senior officials cautioned against the raid but then lauded Obama’s move “to launch the daring action”, according to The New York Times.


*al-Qaeda, a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries 



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Covid-19: Italian and Spanish PMs meet in Madrid ahead of EU recovery fund summit | International

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Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was in Madrid on Wednesday for a meeting with his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), to discuss their countries’ joint strategy for an upcoming summit on the European Union’s coronavirus recovery fund.

Spain and Italy, the two European countries to be hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, are joining forces against the so-called “frugal” countries – Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark – which oppose the idea of a €750 billion fund, of which €500 billion would be non-recoverable grants and the rest made up of loans.

Sánchez and Conte have shared interests, as their countries stand to benefit the most from the fund, according to Italian and Spanish sources who added that Germany and France back this position as well.

“This time Italy, Spain, France and Germany are clearly in sync. We all support the European Commission’s proposal,” said Spanish sources.

“With the meeting held today with @GiuseppeConteIT we are relaunching relations between Spain and Italy. We agree that the good understanding between our countries must be taken to the political arena. We hope to hold a new Italian-Spanish summit in 2020,” tweeted Spain’s Sánchez on Wednesday.

Conte and Sánchez will be traveling separately in the coming days to the Netherlands and Germany, and the Spanish leader is also planning a stop in Sweden, whose government wants to replace some of the EU fund grants with loans, according to Spanish sources. The Spanish and Italian PMs are hoping to arrive at the July 17-18 summit in Brussels with a strong negotiated position that will leave little room for resistance from the “Frugal Four.”

Wednesday’s meeting also served to reinforce bilateral ties that had been weak for years. The last time that the leaders of both countries had come together was in 2014, when then-prime ministers Enrico Letta and Mariano Rajoy met in Rome.

English version by Susana Urra.



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‘Where should we go?’: thousands left homeless as Karachi clears waterways | Global development

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Maqsooda Bibi, 62, did not know the house she had lived in all her life would be demolished, forcing her whole family to become homeless. But on Monday, Pakistan’s supreme court backed the Sindh government in bulldozing her home and hundreds of others, legalising the eviction of thousands who live along narrow waterways – nullahs – that crisscross Karachi.

The verdict came as Bibi and hundreds of others held a protest outside the court. “We hoped that the court would ask the government not to make us homeless, but it did the opposite. Our children also protested on Sunday and urged the supreme court to stop demolition. It seems no one here cares for the future of the poor.”

At least 8,000 houses are being knocked down along the nullahs. The work, which began in February, is in response to the 2020 Karachi floods that saw choked up nullahs overflow and swamp the city. Improvements to Karachi’s water and sewage systems are being financed by the World Bank.

As people watched their homes being turned into rubble, civil society organisations approached the court to try to stop the evictions. They said the houses were not to blame for blocking the waterways.

But on Monday the supreme court rejected the petition.

While dozens of people told the Guardian they were renting their homes, the court said any leasing of land along the nullahs was illegal. Activists and writers have termed the decision “unjust”. Writer Fatima Bhutto, of the Bhutto political dynasty, tweeted: “The supreme court’s decision is a tragedy.”

Maqsooda Bibi, on right, attempts to keep cool during a protest in Karachi against the demolitions.
Maqsooda Bibi, on right, attempts to keep cool during a protest in Karachi against the demolitions. Photograph: Shah Meer Baloch

In an editorial, Pakistan’s largest English-language daily, Dawn, said: “The demolition of houses situated within nine metres on either side of the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs will continue. When this exercise is completed (before this year’s monsoon, according to the plan), at least 100,000 people would perhaps have been rendered homeless. As many as 21,000 children would be out of school and living under the open sky.”

Bibi’s house was her family’s home for five decades. She shared it with four daughters and three sons-in-law. “We all started living on the lawn after they demolished our house but they will snatch the lawn now. At first, they took our shelter, now they will take our land,” she says.

Muhammad Shahid is a heart patient whose house was bulldozed a month ago. He expected justice from the court. He was at home when his house was bulldozed at around 11am one morning.

“We are helpless. Where should we go? We can’t die or live. I had my angiography done and now I can’t work. My children aren’t educated enough. My wife had a paralysis attack,” says Shahid. He says that even he has not got the 90,000 Pakistani rupees (£410) promised by the government.

Muhammad Shahid on the rubble where he used to have two rooms that were bulldozed.
Muhammad Shahid stands where two rooms belonging to him were bulldozed. Photograph: Shah Meer Baloch

Muhammad Aslam did receive some compensation for the loss of his house. But he says it is not enough. He says: “I want to return the amount because it is of no use for four families.” He lives with 28 others in one room and a tent after his two-storey house was bulldozed. “We are troubled in all ways, there is no gas or electricity or even sanitation. This isn’t living,” says Aslam.

Architect and urban planner Arif Hasan says the government had no “proper plan”. “They are not doing it merely to stop the flood but to make long roads along the nullahs connecting the Lyari expressway with the northern bypass, displace poor and benefit the rich.” He says the World Bank should denounce the Sindh government, as forced evictions are against the bank’s policies.

Muhammad Abid Asghar was one of the first to lose his home, on 2 February. With others, he established Gujjar Nala victims committee and, with activists of Karachi Bachao Tehreek (Save Karachi Movement), went to the Sindh high court.

Bulldozed and damaged houses in Gujjar nullah as the demolitions progress.
Bulldozed and damaged houses in Gujjar nullah, Karachi, as the demolitions progress. Photograph: Shah Meer Baloch

After chalking slogans against the demolitions on walls around the city, the activists say they were called by the World Bank team for a meeting in April.

“We had believed the bank was funding the evictions, but the World Bank denied it. They assured us that no leased houses would be bulldozed.”

Sindh minister for information, Nasir Hussain Shah, also says the World Bank is not linked to the evictions. “The government will help residents in rehabilitation,” he says, adding that “not more than 5%” of residents were against the demolition works.

The World Bank did not respond to a request for comment.

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China calls Nato statement ‘slander’

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The Chinese mission to the EU denounced a Nato statement that declared Beijing a “security challenge,” saying China is actually a force for peace but will defend itself if threatened, AP reports. The Chinese news release said the Nato statement was a “slander on China’s peaceful development, a misjudgment of the international situation and (Nato’s) own role, and a continuation of the Cold War mentality and organisational political psychology.”

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