Harawira apologises for bin Laden comments

Hone Harawira. Photo NZPA
Hone Harawira. Photo NZPA
Hone Harawira has apologised for comments he made describing dead terrorist Osama bin Laden as a freedom fighter.

"My mihi to the Bin Laden's family was seen by some as support for Bin Laden's actions," he said in a statement.

"This was a mistake and was not intended. Using terror for political reasons is never acceptable."

United States President Barack Obama this week announced bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a firefight with US forces in Pakistan. Bin Laden had masterminded the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.

New Zealand political leaders welcomed his death, with Prime Minister John Key saying it made the world a safer place.

But Mr Harawira told TVNZ's Te Karere on Monday he acknowledged the positive aspects of his life.

"We have heard nothing but negative things about him from the Americans, but he fought for the self-determination of his people and for his beliefs," Mr Harawira said.

"Indeed, despite what the media has said, his family, his tribe, his people are in mourning. They mourn for the man who fought for the rights, the lands and the freedom of his people. We should not damn them in death but acknowledge the positive aspects of life."

Mr Key, on receiving the news of the killing, had a different view.

"Osama bin Laden was a person responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, including New Zealanders in several different parts of the world," he said.

"While his removal will not necessarily bring an immediate end to terrorist activity, I have absolutely no doubt that the world is a safer place without Osama bin Laden."

Mr Key said the families who had lost loved ones as a result of terrorist actions masterminded by bin Laden might well feel now that a sense of justice had been achieved.

Labour leader Phil Goff welcomed the news, saying he had no tolerance for terrorists who killed innocent people in pursuit of their ideological goals.

"He founded the jihadist terrorist organisation al-Qaeda and has committed his life to spreading its deadly tentacles across the globe. His death will be a major blow to that organisation and that is something that we should welcome."


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