WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has reviewed potential threats to the United States ahead of the anniversary next week of the killing of Osama bin Laden, but there is no concrete evidence that al Qaeda is plotting any revenge attacks, the White House said on Thursday.
Bin Laden's killing last year by U.S. commandos is touted by the Obama administration as one of his top accomplishments and it may help inoculate the president from Republican election-year claims that he is weak on national security.
U.S. Navy SEALs shot bin Laden in a raid on the al Qaeda leader's compound in Pakistan that took place before dawn May 2 local time, which was May 1 in the United States.
"At this time, we have no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, are plotting attacks in the United States to coincide with the anniversary of bin Laden's death," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
News of the demise of the man behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington was widely celebrated in the United States. But it fanned anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, particularly Pakistan, which was deeply embarrassed by the raid inside its own territory.
Obama reviewed the "threat picture as we head into the anniversary of the bin Laden takedown," Carney told reporters at the White House, emphasizing that the risk of revenge action by al Qaeda remained real.
"We assess that AQ's affiliates and allies remain intent on conducting attacks in the homeland, possibly to avenge the death of bin Laden, but not necessarily tied to the anniversary," Carney said, adding Obama had ordered his national security team to take "all necessary measures to protect the American people."
As well as being an issue for national security, the approaching anniversary has also featured in the U.S. election campaign, with Vice President Joe Biden recalling the moment on Thursday as he criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his foreign policy vision.
"If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it's pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," he said in a speech in New York.
Romney, the Democratic president's expected challenger in the November 6 election, opposed Obama's use of billions of taxpayer dollars to rescue the U.S. auto industry.
Carney said it was legitimate to discuss bin Laden in the context of the president's record as he seeks re-election.
"Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, launched attacks against this country that took thousands of lives ... So it is a part of his foreign policy record, obviously, but it is also part of a very serious endeavor to keep our country safe," he said. (Reuters)