Thursday, February 29, 2024

Stuart speaks on bin Laden


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GOVERNMENT HAS REACTED with caution to news of the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The United States Government late Sunday confirmed the demise of bin Laden, who has been blamed for the deaths of almost 3 000 people, including five Barbadians, at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001.
“Every country has to be interested in [bin Laden’s death],” Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told the DAILY NATION yesterday. 
He noted that security was a global issue and that the United States, Britain and Canada were presently at war with members of al Qaeda.
However, Stuart said every precaution needed to be taken to ensure that this country was not “overexposed”.
“Barbados does not get itself involved in disputes of this kind. Our foreign policy is still what it always used to be: ‘friends of all, satellites of none’. But we cannot bury our heads in the sand. We are a tourist economy and if a terrorist element anywhere in the world feels offended by something that another country has done and the residents of that country come to Barbados, we have to face the reality to take all the necessary precautions.”
The Prime Minister said the best Barbados could do in the present circumstance was to hope the situation quickly settled itself and that the fallout was not too great.
“Let’s be frank about it. The relationship between the extremists and the United States, Britain and Australia is not a very good relationship at the moment, and we just have to factor in that there could be could be reprisals,” Stuart said.
He warned that “none of us is insulated from any of this and we just have to take all the precautions that we can to protect ourselves from the worst possible effects of the events of the last 24 hours”.
Bin Laden’s death, at the hands of US Special Forces in Pakistan, also drew immediate reaction from members of the West Indian community in New York, who were directly impacted by the 2001 attacks.
Albert Blackman, who lost his 26-year-old son Balewa on the fateful day ten years ago, told the DAILY NATION that bin Laden’s death had brought him closure.
“Actually I am elated and when I attend the ceremonies (9/11 memorial observances) later this year as I have done every year since the tragedy, I will say ‘well done, United States, well done, President Obama’.
”Hyacinth Blackman, a retired West Indian nursing home employee, also welcomed the news.
“My son is probably looking down and is saying ‘at last we got him’. That’s how I feel. It has brought closure.”


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