Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden is Dead

Tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the nation to announce that the U.S. has killed and recovered the body of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. This is historic news as it may bring closure to the families who lost loved ones in the attacks on September 11, 2001. But it may also help bring closure to those families who have lost loved ones in the battle against jihadist terrorism since 9/11, and to the families who were effected by al Qaeda before 9/11. Bin Laden first declared a "holy" war against the U.S. in 1996. He told his followers that it was their duty to kill any American anywhere in the world. He then cemented his existence in the American psyche by bombing the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, killing hundreds of people, and again declaring war on the U.S. In 2000, the U.S.S. Cole was bombed by al Qaeda while at port in Yemen and tens of servicemen and women were killed. And then came his greatest single act of terror, in fact the most devastating terrorist attack in history, September 11, 2001. Indeed, this news of May 1, 2011, is historic.

While the battle against terrorist extremism will most likely go on for years to come, it is time to reflect on the intelligence community (IC) personnel, the soldiers, and the political leaders who have pursued this mission for the last ten years. It is time for gratitude. I want to personally thank all who have contributed to this effort around the world, those who have stood for freedom and tolerance, and put their lives on the line in defense of those ideals. I want to especially thank my family and friends who have served and continue to serve.

However, let us all remember that violence is not the only tool in our arsenal against terrorism, nor is it even the most important or always even necessary. Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead at the hands of U.S. forces...vengeance has been delivered. But the most devastating retaliatory action taken against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda was on September 12, 2001, and will continue on May 2, 2011. That action was resilience...the resilience shown by the American people when they went back to work, back on an airplane, back on vacation, back to a Yankee, Red Sox, or Nationals game, back to church, to temple, and back to the mosque.
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