By Mark Dunn
OTTAWA – A staggering number of Canadians feel Osama bin Laden got his just reward when U.S. Navy SEALs shot the world’s most-wanted terrorist in the head and chest and dumped his body into the Arabian Sea, says a new poll.
The survey conducted by Abacus Data suggested that the killing this month of the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and other bloodbaths was a unique case, and that terrorists in general should be treated like other criminals when it comes to justice and punishment.
Asked whether bin Laden got what he deserved, 82% of respondents said yes and 18% said no.
A further breakdown of that data showed that those between the ages of 18 and 29 were less likely to agree, while those 30 years of age and older were more likely.
“Younger Canadians and New Democratic Party supporters were more likely to believe that he should have been taken alive, while older Canadians, Liberal party and Conservative party supporters were more likely to believe it was a job well done,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.
The al-Qaida leader was holed up in a fortified compound in Pakistan when commandos stormed his $1 million residence, blasting their target and a few others in a daring raid after a 10-year manhunt.
When asked specifically about how bin Laden’s death was handled, 49% said it was a job well done since he was a special case and should have been killed, while 34% believed he should have been captured and hauled before a judge.
Asked whether the U.S. overstepped its authority by launching a secret raid on foreign soil without Pakistan’s permission, 48% disagreed while 35% agreed.
But when asked to agree or disagree if the Pakistani government could not be trusted with intelligence about the whereabouts of bin Laden, 74% agreed and 6% disagreed.
“This contradiction is most likely caused by the unease some Canadians have towards killing bin Laden without a trial than by the American intervention into Pakistan,” said Coletto.
On the issue of how to treat terrorists, 54% favoured arrest, trial and punishment, while 32% strongly or somewhat disagreed they should be treated like other criminals. Older Canadians were more likely to forgo the court system for terrorists.
The online survey of 1,544 Canadians from a pool of more than 150,000 was conducted May 18 to 19 and is considered accurate within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.