In this image released by the White House, President Barack Obama makes a point during one in a series of meetings in the Situation Room of the White House discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, Sunday, May 1, 2011. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is pictured at right. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: "Justice has been done."

With those four words Americans have been waiting nearly a decade to hear, US President Barack Obama announced to the world that Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

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And in making that announcement — something that his predecessor President George W. Bush had yearned to do during his seven post-9/11 years in the White House, Obama has, in one fell swoop, given his flagging presidency a massive boost in standing.

Obama, who has faced deep unemployment figures and an economy mired in stagnation after the financial crisis, had been in trouble politically.

He had been handed a "shellacking" by voters during last November's mid-term elections to the House of Representative and the Senate and is struggling to avoid gridlock with Republican lawmakers.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican congressman from Ohio, praised the Democrat President for having security forces end the decade-long hunt for Bin Laden.

He lauded "President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all their efforts to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice."

Outside the White House, cheering Americans celebrated the death of the terrorist leader by chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A" on Pennsylvania Avenue. In New York's Times Square, people also gathered. One man held aloft a cardboard poster which read: "Obama 1, Osama 0".

Barely mentioned

Until Bin Laden's death, US politicians had barely mentioned the Al Qaida leader's name, trying to play down the importance and trying not to focus on the fact that millions of dollars and thousands of security, intelligence and military personnel had failed to find the world's most wanted man for nearly ten years.

Outside the White House, someone found an old campaign poster for the previous team in the West Wing, and held aloft the poster with the words "Bush-Cheney, the men who started the hunt."

But while Obama cannot be seen to be gloating over the terrorist leader's death, he is making it known that he and his team tracked Bin Laden to the luxury mansion compound in Abbottabad, 50 kilometres north-east of Islamabad on Sunday night.

The president said that on taking office in January 2009, he told the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that the Al Qaida's leader's death was to be its top priority.

Senior US officials are at pains to say Obama chaired five separate meetings in March working out the plans for the final attack on Bin Laden.

Since taking office, Obama administration officials have had to contend with nagging criticism from Republicans that they were not fully engaged in the war on terror, failing to maintain the level and importance placed on it during Bush's years at the helm.

Ratings boost

The death of Bin Laden will boost Obama's flagging ratings — just days before being able to roll out Osama Bin Laden's death certificate, he was forced to roll out his own birth certificate to silence right-wing conspiracy theorists who doubted his legal birthright to lead the United States.

But it's also too early to suggest that Obama is unbeatable when it comes to running again in 2012.

Twenty years ago, President George H. Bush was riding high in the polls after sweeping aside Saddam Hussain's invasion of Kuwait and leading coalition forces to a resounding victory in Operation Desert Storm.

Barely 18 months later, Bush senior lost to Bill Clinton in a campaign focused on the economy. With unemployment riding at 8 per cent, the dollar at an all-time low and the economy barely growing, Obama will need to focus on that front with the same determination as he has shown in hunting down Bin Laden.