Poll: Americans were skeptical bin Laden would be captured or killed
May 2nd, 2011
09:17 AM ET
12 years ago

Poll: Americans were skeptical bin Laden would be captured or killed

Washington (CNN) - Prior to the killing of Osama bin Laden, polls indicate Americans had become increasingly skeptical that the terrorist leader would be captured or killed.

Soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 78 percent of the public thought it was likely that the founder and leader of al Qaeda would be captured or killed, with only 21 percent of the public saying it was unlikely that bin Laden would be captured or killed.

The number who said it was unlikely bin Laden would be captured or killed rose to 67 percent by September of last year, the most recent time the question was asked in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll. At the time, only three in ten said it was likely that bin Laden would be captured or killed.

President Barack Obama announced the news of the killing of bin Laden in an address to the nation late Sunday evening. His death comes almost 10 years after the terrorist attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

But removing bin Laden from the picture may not diminish Americans' concerns over threats from al Qaeda.

"Bin Laden's fate was important to the American public because most saw him as a persistent threat to the U.S." says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2006, three-quarters thought that bin Laden was planning an attack against the U.S. and three in ten thought that attack would succeed. But Americans are unlikely to think that al Qaeda is dead just because bin Laden is out of the picture. In 2005, more than nine in ten said that al Qaeda would remain a threat to the U.S. even if bin Laden were killed or captured, and that's an opinion that has probably not changed much over time."

Filed under: 9/11 • Al Qaeda • CNN poll • Polls
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I must admit to a large degree of skepticism after rumors Bin Laden escaped the "net" that was reported to be closing around him in the mountains just prior to the Iraq War. I gave him credit for having enough brains to not allow himself to get into that position again. Though I could never rule out his capture, I did not give it a high probablity of occuring before he died of medical problems.

    May 2, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Larry L

    This success shows what can happen when our Commander In Chief directs our military initiatives with maturity, intelligence, and discretion. President Obama is exactly the right man for the job at exactly the right time in America's history.

    May 2, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. GI Joe

    Our Navy Seals are wonderful. First the secret suprise attack on the Pirates, now this.

    Thank God we have a President with integrity enough to NOT advertise our secretive plans. And Thank God he didn't stand there and claim 'Mission Accomplished", because he has sense enough to know it won't be finished until mind-sets are changed through diplomacy - not more wars.

    May 2, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  4. Michael

    Bin Laden was much more important as a symbol than as an actual leader, planner, commander or whatever he has been doing for the past decade.
    Like Napoleon, whose hat on the battlefield was said to be worth 10,000 troops, Bin Laden was living proof of the idea that you can kill Americans, thumb your nose at the U.S. military, and get away with it.
    Now that idea is dead.

    May 2, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    Why shouldn't they have been skeptical since Duh Duh DUh-bya lost interest in catching him shortly afterwards? It wasn't a priority in his agenda....even though he spouted loud and clear he would get him dead or alive. And as expected, the sheep are questioning Obama on everything about it and casting either doubts on the accuracy of the death or just outright calling this a "wag the dog" moment. How pathetic

    May 2, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. Steve in Denver

    We put the right man on the job in 2008!

    May 2, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    Hats off to our great military, intelligence community and their relentless pursuit of this animal. It's nice to know that he knew we were the ones that got him. The victims of 9-11 and all of his other mass murdering episodes can rest a little easier.

    May 2, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  8. ConservaFASCISTS -aka- Mammon

    No skepticism here. I always knew that he eventually would be found and that he would fight to the death. Lo and behold. That stronghold in the Waziristan will be broken. Now let's get Zahwihiri and Mawlaki.

    May 2, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Hmmph. Where Bin Laden was captured is troubling, but it is not something that we can make a big roaring fuss over in the love/hate relationship we have with Pakistan. Although the Pakistani leaders could "see Bin Laden from their house", Bin Laden could also see them and demonstrated it with numerous terror attacks against the Pakistani people. While we may dislike the actions of the Pakistini leaders, we must continue the American policy of supporting and protecting innocents around the world.

    May 2, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. NC

    Just the right place at the right time. It could have been President Bush, or even the Republican president, who will be elected in 2012, that this happened on their watch. Please don't give obama all the credit for this, if any. The credit should go to the men and women of our great military.

    May 2, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |