Americans Divided on Whether Goal is To Kill or Capture Bin Laden

Almost Unanimous in Support of Wider War against Terrorists Outside Afghanistan; Ready to Support Forced Removal of Taliban in Afghanistan, Hussein in Iraq

Contact: Thomas Riehle, President Ipsos-Reid U.S. Public Affairs 202.463.7300 Between October 19-21, 2001, Ipsos-Reid Express interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 US adults nationwide by telephone. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. On questions that were asked of half the sample, the margin of error is +/- 4.5%. "Some want bin Laden killed, and some want him captured," reports Thomas Riehle, President, U.S. Public Affairs, Ipsos-Reid. "All agree, however, that the goals of the war on terrorism should be broadly include targeting other terrorist groups (not just the bin Laden group), targeting terrorist operating in other countries (not just those operating in Afghanistan), removing the Taliban from power (not just eliminating the bin Laden terrorist group), and removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. "It remains to be seen whether pursuit of those kinds of expansive goals would interfere with the other goal almost all Americans support--namely, an international cooperative effort involving many countries, rather than a go-it-alone U.S. war on terrorism. Only 21% want the U.S. to conduct the war according to its own plans and goals, regardless of what other countries think, while 77% want the war to be a cooperative effort in which many countries agree on plans and goals," Riehle reports. Do you think a goal of U.S. military action should be to ARREST AND CONVICT Osama bin Laden and others in his terrorist organization or should the goal be to KILL Osama bin Laden and other leaders in his terrorist organization?
    Arrest and convict bin Laden and others
    Kill bin Laden and others
    (DO NOT READ:) Other/Don't Know/Refused
  • Men (53%), upper-income Americans (53% of those with incomes of $50,000 or more) and people in the Northeast (55%) tend to favor killing bin Laden.
  • Whites tend to favor killing bin Laden (52%) rather than arresting him (40%). Non-whites tend to favor arresting him (50%) rather than just killing him (36%).
  • Democrats favor arresting bin Laden (50%) rather than killing him (39%), while Republicans take the opposite view (60% favor killing him, 34% arresting him). Independents lean toward the goal of killing (49%) rather than arresting (39%).
  • People who believe the U.S. can block all future terrorist attempts favor arresting bin Laden by a margin of 56%-37%, as do people who think only a few terrorist attempts will succeed (51% favor arrest, 43% killing him). Among those who fear many future terrorist attempts will succeed, however, 47% favor killing bin Laden and 42% want him arrested.
  • Among those who feel the war on terrorism should be a go-it-alone U.S. effort, 65% favor killing bin Laden.
(ASKED OF HALF THE SAMPLE) In its war against terrorism, should the U.S. . . .
    Percentage Supporting each
    Target other terrorist groups outside the Osama bin Laden group
    Target terrorist groups in other countries in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world
    Remove from power the Taliban regime that controls most of Afghanistan, and not just eliminate the Osama bin Laden terrorist group only
    Remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq
ASKED OF HALF THE SAMPLE) Which of the following two statements comes closer to your own opinion?
    The war on terrorism is something the U.S. should conduct according to its own plan and goals, regardless of what other countries think 21
    The war on terrorism should be a cooperative effort involving many countries that agree on goals and war plans. 77
    Don't Know/Refused 2

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