Americans streamed to the site of the World Trade Center and the gates of the White House to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden yesterday — cheering, waving flags and belting out the national anthem.
Ground Zero, more familiar these past 10 years for bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and solemn speeches and arguments over what to build to honour the September 11 dead, became, for the first time, a place of revelry.
Signs held by revellers were mostly about the President. ‘Obama 1; Osama 0’ was the message that Mike McCready was holding up, typed in bold capitals on his iPad.
“If the election were today, Obama would be re-elected for certain,” he said.
Lisa Ramaci, a New Yorker whose husband was a freelance journalist killed in the Iraq war, said: “We've been waiting a long time for this day. I think it's a relief for New York just in the sense that we had this 10 years of frustration just building and building, wanting this guy dead, and now he is, and you can see how happy people are.”
She was holding a flag and wearing a T-shirt depicting the Twin Towers and, in crosshairs, bin Laden.
Several hours later the first copies of the Daily News hit the streets, with a big picture of bin Laden on the cover and the headline: ‘ROT IN HELL’.
While hundreds of jubilant young men in lower Manhattan bellowed chants of “U-S-A” and “Obama got Osama”, thousands celebrated all night outside the White House gates.
Even before President Obama addressed the nation the crowd had begun spilling into nearby Lafayette Park.
Marlene English, who lives in Arlington, Virginia, said: “It's not over, but it's one battle that's been won, and it's a big one.”
Hundreds also took to the streets of Quetta in Pakistan’s first rally after bin Laden’s death — but to pay homage. Around 1,000 people chanted “death to America” and set fire to a US flag before dispersing peacefully.
“Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed (Muslim fighter),” said ‘Asmatullah’.
Elsewhere, the news was welcomed. Saudi Arabia said it hoped the killing of its former citizen would boost efforts to fight terrorism.
Bin Laden was stripped of his citizenship after he criticised the royal family's reliance on US troops to protect it after the Iraqi invasion of neighbouring Kuwait.
In Yemen, the bin Laden ancestral home, activists urged street protesters not to raise banners of the dead al-Qaida leader.
“To those in the protest squares across the governorates of the republic: Do not get absorbed by the matter of the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden,” Yemeni protesters advised followers in a message on Facebook.