WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- When U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden earlier this month, his al-Qaida organization was already losing its influence, President Obama said Thursday.
During a key speech on U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama said the United States "dealt al-Qaida a huge blow by killing its leader" after years of war against the terror organization and its affiliates.
Calling bin Laden a "mass murderer," Obama said bin Laden "rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism. His agenda focused on what he could destroy, not what he could build."
U.S. Navy SEALs raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, earlier this month and killed him.
When he died, al-Qaida was struggling for relevance "as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life," Obama said.
By the time the U.S. forces found the terrorist, "al-Qaida's agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands."
Obama's remarks came the same day al-Qaida released a tape purportedly of bin Laden praising pro-democracy demonstrations that have been roiling North Africa and the Middle East.