Former head of British Army speaks of bin Laden’s death

The former head of the British Army today welcomed news of Osama bin Laden's death but warned that terrorism will not end overnight.

Former Chief of the General Staff General Lord Dannatt saw the last decade of his career largely dominated by issues surrounding al Qaida, Afghanistan and Iraq.

When news broke that US forces had captured and killed al Qaida founder and leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, Lord Dannatt said it was a 'positive step'.

Lord Dannatt, 61, who lives near Norwich, said: 'It's extremely significant that he has now been tracked down and killed. It's disappointing that it's taken nearly 10 years to do so. It's quite embarrassing for the Pakistanis that he was living in such an open part of their society.

'Al Qaida is not going to go away overnight although having said that it's a significant blow. As the leader and founder of al Qaida, his removal is going to be quite significant. There will be a short term spike by al Qaida where they will want to show that they are still there and effective.'

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Lord Dannatt said bin Laden had been on the army's radar from the mid to late nineties but it was 9/11 which burst his name and al Qaida into 'everyone's consciousness'.

'We had been on his trail for some time prior to that,' said Lord Dannatt. 'We never really knew if we came close to capturing him. In late 2001, early 2002 it was believed that he and his supporters were on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. We may have come close then but the honest view is that we don't really know.

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'If find it quite extraordinary where he was found. I visited the US military area near there in 2008 and the thought that he could have been living half a mile or a mile away is certainly interesting and quite a chilling one.'

Meanwhile, Lord Dannatt said it was important to continue to try to stabilise Afghanistan.

He said: 'We've got to continue with the strategy that we are following there which is looking increasingly positive. It would be wrong and premature to pull our troops out just because we can see that the job is partly done, we need it to be completely done.'

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