WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- The killing of Osama bin Laden is a blow to al-Qaida but terrorism experts warn it could lead to reprisals from extremists seeking to avenge his death.
"We don't want him to be a martyr," Jim Walsh at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told The Boston Herald. "We don't want him in his death to accomplish more than in his life."
He said bin Laden supporters may seek to make his death an excuse to recruit a new generation of extremists.
Boston University international relations Professor Andrew Bacevich told the Herald that while bin Laden's death may be seen as bringing a sense of justice, it would not mean an end to the global war on terror.
John Pike, director of the Web site globalsecurity.org, said the announcement that bin Laden was killed in Pakistan would mean Islamabad "will have some explaining to do." It had been widely reported in the past that bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan but Pakistani authorities hade denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.
Ahmed Rashid, a BBC columnist and author, said bin Laden's death may encourage hundreds of extremists to seek ways to avenge his death.
Rashid said al-Qaida already has moved from a highly centralized hierarchy to a de-centralized structure that will allow it to focus on any number of targets.
He said al-Qaida's current philosophy is one man, one bomb and so does not need another 9/11 to make its mark.
Greg Barton, an expert on global terrorism at Monash University in Melbourne, agreed, saying al-Qaida will continue to remain strong without its top leader, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing a local radio report.
"Al-Qaida has become several things; today it's become a series of organizations based in geographically different parts of the world so the loss of bin Laden doesn't change that," he said. "There will be others moving into his position. There have to be great concerns that this could spark a wave of reprisals."
U.S. embassies around the world remained on alert for possible revenge attacks.
The Pakistani foreign office said in a statement said the operation against bin Laden was "conducted by the U.S. forces." It said his death would be "a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world."
It was not immediately clear who would take over the leadership of al-Qaida but Ayman al-Zawahiri, the fiery Egyptian doctor and bin Laden's trusted deputy, could assume that role. He too is believed to hiding in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.