US President Barack Obama (left) and Osama bin Laden. AFP PHOTOS / FILE

The message on a placard waved by a crowd gathered outside the White House after news broke out that Osama bin Laden had been killed probably best captures the significance of the development to President Barack Obama; “Obama 1, Osama Zero” read the message.

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No doubt, the killing of the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, is a major score for President Obama whose efforts in the war on terrorism had been under criticism.

As a candidate in the 2008 election campaign, Mr Obama repeatedly vowed: “We will kill Osama bin Laden.” Well, the unlikely Obama succeeded where his predecessors failed.

President Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, vowed to bring bin Laden to justice but never did before leaving office in early 2009.

Mr Obama accomplished the mission on Monday.

“As president, Bush declared he wanted bin Laden ‘dead or alive’ – but it is now the unlikely figure of Barack Obama who has been able to announce the final triumph as US commander-in-chief,” blogged Mark Mardell on the BBC website.

Bin Laden had been the subject of a search since he eluded US soldiers and Afghan militia in a large-scale assault on the Tora Bora mountains in 2001.

The achievement might lead to a significant rise in his approval ratings on national security and could be a valuable weapon in his re-election campaign.

The Guardian newspaper concluded that the killing was a critical accomplishment for Mr Obama and his national security team, after many Americans had given up hope of ever finding bin Laden.

But President Obama avoided any show of triumph and made the announcement with what one American commentator described as “dignified restraint”.

The US president, however, demonstrated that he was not only at the centre of the bin Laden capture plan, but everything happened “at his direction”.

And before making the announcement, he put a call to former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

“He told former Presidents Bush and Clinton what he was about to announce before he made his televised White House statement.

“Obama is making it clear that the killing of Osama bin Laden didn’t occur by accident – and that it happened while he was in charge,” said Mardell.