Reactions to the reported death of Osama bin Laden have been fascinating. Official announcements have emphasised its historic importance while trying to avoid sounds of glee or gloating. This is partly to try to maintain a sense of dignity and gravitas, and partly hoping to minimise the expected backlash from his infuriated followers.
Dead, rather than alive
It is understandable that both the US and Al-Quaeda would have preferred Osama to be killed. Alive he would be an embarrassment, a lure for possible rescue attempts or ongoing acts of vengeance. And where would he be held? His supporters would fear that he'd be tortured and might reveal secrets, if he still has any. Even dead, his body was an awkward problem. No country wanted to bury him, and have his grave become an inevitable shrine for his supporters.