Osama bin Laden, the head of the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, was killed Sunday (May 1) in a U.S. operation in Pakistan, U.S. President Barack Obama announced. How his death would affect U.S. and international aid missions and aid worker security in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region remains to be seen.
Obama called bin Laden’s death the “most significant achievement” in U.S. efforts to defeat al-Qaida but emphasized the need for continued vigilance “at home and abroad” as “there’s no doubt” al-Qaida will continue its attacks. U.S. embassies are now on high alert in anticipation of possible retaliation against U.S. personnel around the world, possibly including aid workers in the AfPak region.
There have been lots of attacks on aid workers lately in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it remains to be seen whether bin Laden’s death will complicate development missions because of the need for increased security measures to ward off potential retaliation by al-Qaida and its supporters.
In his speech announcing bin Laden’s death, Obama did not make reference to U.S. development efforts in the AfPak region or how these may be affected by the turn of events. He did say Pakistani officials were involved in the intelligence operations that led to bin Laden’s death.
The al-Qaida leader died in a “targeted operation” on a compound in Abbottabad, a city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwestern Pakistan, along the country’s border with Afghanistan. The province is a key target of U.S. and international development efforts, being Pakistan’s second poorest and among the hardest hit by the massive flooding in 2010.
Pakistan, in general, is one of the world’s top international development hot spots. It is also among the countries where most attacks on aid workers occur.
Read more about U.S. development aid.