Almost all major newspapers in the United States were celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden on their websites ahead of going to press.
In New York, the symbolic focus of the 9/11 attacks, friends and family members of bin Laden’s victims were widely quoted. The New York Daily News is full of tributes.
The tabloid describes how “across New York, cheers rose and tears fell in the thousands of homes where dining tables still have empty places and altars to the 9/11 dead still flicker”.
There is caution as well as celebration in the Big Apple. The New York Post reports that “out an abundance of caution” authorities “will add more police at its facilities including the New York area’s airports, the George Washington bridge and the World Trade Center site”.
The broadsheet New York Times , offering more analysis than the tabloids, quotes a caveat by former Afghan interior minister Hanif Atmar.
He says “the killing of Osama should not be seen as mission accomplished… this should not be used as justification for premature withdrawal” of US troops from Afghanistan”.
In the US capital, analysts are also looking to the future and the potential consequences for a post-bin Laden al-Qaeda. The Washington Post leads with the headline “Justice has been done”, quoting President Obama, and goes on to say that al-Qaeda “is likely to remain the most significant security threat to the United States despite its leader’s demise.”
Conservative TV news channel Fox News gave the reaction of former US president George W. Bush, leader at the time of the attacks. He called Osama’s death “a victory for America”.
The liberal Huffington Post carries the simple headline ‘DEAD’ above bin Laden’s photo.
Writing for the Huffington Post, Steve Clemons reserves praise for Obama for killing the man Bush could not catch. He even goes so far as to say Obama “has probably assured his re-election in 2012”.
A more international angle is provided by The Wall Street Journal which contains an article that looks at Indian concerns that bin Laden had been hiding deep within Pakistan. The Indian home ministry has issued a statement saying it believes perpetrators of the Mumbai attack in 2008 “continue to be sheltered in Pakistan”.
The media were however not the first to break the story of bin Laden’s death. That honour went to Twitter and more precisely the account of Keith Urbahn, an aide to former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He tweeted, before Obama’s announcement, :“So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn.”
During Obama’s address to announce the news Twitter recorded more than 4,000 tweets per second.