For many Arabs, Osama bin Laden had already lost his appeal
'We have clearly passed the Osama bin Laden era, and we are firmly into the Bouazizi era,' said one columnist, referring to the Tunisian man whose self-immolation sparked revolts across the Mideast.
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Yet even in Yemen, bin Laden’s ancestral homeland where local franchise Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has grown in prominence, analysts say the leader’s death will have little immediate significance. Bin Laden, after all, had become little more than a symbolic leader who analysts say had little to do with day-to-day operations, and offshoots like AQAP reportedly have little direct interaction with the leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
And in Yemen, too, some believe that the protest movement that has engulfed the frail nation is lessening the appeal of extremism.
"[Bin Laden’s death] may cause a temporary spike in AQAP recruiting. But national politics and the pursuit of freedom are overtaking xenophobia among youth,” says Abdul Ghani al-Iryani, a political analyst based in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. “It would appear that the impact will be minimal.”
'Bin Laden gave a bad impression of Muslims like myself'
There was, however, sympathy for the Al Qaeda leader in some quarters of the Middle East on Monday. Some Egyptians expressed admiration for his fight against the United States.
“I cannot be happy about his death, because we admired him for fighting the American occupiers,” said a man who identified himself only as Ahmed as he drank tea in a traditional café in downtown Cairo.
“We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood,” he told reporters, according to Reuters.
But others welcomed his death. In Lebanon, a fighter with the militant Shiite organization Hezbollah blamed the US for “making” bin Laden, citing the support for the resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980, but welcomed his death. “Everyone here supports his death because he was against the Shiites,” said the fighter, Abu Mahdi.
The strain of Sunni Islam that Al Qaeda's members follow views Shiites as apostates and a greater threat to Muslims than the West.
And across Egypt, Yemen, and Syria, people expressed frustration at the perception of Islam that bin Laden spread, and hope that his death would help lay to rest a decade of fraught relations between the West and the Muslim world.
“I am pleased he has been caught," said one young man from Damascus. "Osama bin Laden killed many people and gave a bad impression of normal Muslims like myself … I see him as one of the most at fault for misunderstandings between the Muslim and Western countries."