Reaction to death of Osama bin LadenWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive on both a local and national level since United States President Barack Obama confirmed on May 1 the death of Osama bin Laden.
“For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies,” Obama said. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”
The news hits home hard for one local resident. Keith Meyer moved to Toledo in 2003. He was born and raised in New York and worked in an office on Wall Street just six blocks from the World Trade Center.
“I’ve been in contact with some people back in New York,” Meyer said. “It’s a little different for us having actually lived through it. I know two people who died that day. It wasn’t just that day, it was the months afterwards. It was still there. Smoke was coming through vents in the office. It was months of dealing with it.”
Meyer says the news provides some closure but is bittersweet.
“I was happy and excited, but it doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It’s still the same pain we all had that day. For people who saw it first hand, it’s kind of a revenge type thing, but revenge doesn’t ease the pain. Almost every day I think about it. I think there’s some closure. It’s another step towards healing.”
It’s also another step towards the downfall of al Qaeda according to Marc Simon, associate professor of political science at Bowling Green State University.
“The organization has been severely damaged, and this is the final evidence,” Simon said. “The biggest events that have really hurt al Qaeda have been the non-violent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. What it did was undermine their existence. They recruited people on the notion al Qaeda is the only way you’re going to get rid of dictators and install different governments.”
Simon teaches international relations and has been discussing terrorism in class this semester. He says al Qaeda was losing power before the death of bin Laden.
“It’s no longer an international global terrorist threat,” Simon said. “It still has a lot of people, and given the nature of terrorism you can commit a lot of violence with just a couple hundred people. But it’s not a growing movement, it’s a dying movement. Al Qaeda is struggling to prove themselves relevant at all. If they don’t respond to this, I think they have almost nothing to stand on anymore.”
Simon says bin Laden’s presence made al Qaeda seem more powerful than they ever were.
“He was a symbolic leader and the ideological center of the group, but since 9/11 he didn’t do much in terms of operational planning,” he said. “People identified him with this group and it made the group seem more powerful than it really was.”
Despite their decreasing presence, Simon does expect al Qaeda to respond.
“They probably have some sort of contingency plan in case Osama bin Laden is ever captured or killed,” he said. “There are probably people with orders to do something. With terrorism, it only takes a couple of people. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some acts of violence around the world geared at American targets and symbols in the next couple of weeks.”
Neil Englehart, associate professor of comparative politics at BGSU, expects to see attacks but doesn’t think there will be as much retaliation for bin Laden’s death as most expect.
“I expect to see lots of people conducting attacks that they say are retaliation,” Englehart said. “I’d be surprised if many of those attacks wouldn’t have happened anyway. We’re not talking about organizations that have shown a great deal of restraint. It’s not like they’re keeping things in their pocket waiting for an occasion. They execute attacks as they are able to do so.
“These attacks will occur in other countries. I’d be surprised if you saw anything in the United States because in the past several years they haven’t demonstrated any capacity to operate in the United States. That won’t change just because Osama bin Laden was killed.”
Englehart is working on a book about state failure and human rights and performed research in Afghanistan. He says the death of bin Laden is important to the US as a form of deterrent, but it won’t have much impact on the war in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban and al Qaeda are completely separate entities,” Englehart said. “The Afghan Taliban is only interested in taking over Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda had a much broader vision to create an Islamic superpower that would stretch from Gibraltar to Indonesia. They were more interested in the Pakistani Taliban because if you control Pakistan you’ll have control of nuclear weapons.”
Congressman Bob Latta realizes the death of bin Laden is just one of many obstacles in the War on Terror, but he is still thrilled by the development.
“I hail, with the utmost respect, the courage and dedication of our Armed Forces and intelligence agencies who have brought long awaited justice to the victims of the September 11 attacks,” he said in a statement. “While al Qaeda is still a dangerous foe, all Americans can take solace in removing this unrepentant murderer from the world. The road to winning the War on Terror is long and hard, but it is winnable, and this is a major milestone towards victory.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich also thanked the Armed Forces in a statement.
“I wanted to take a moment to pause and thank those brave men and women who serve in our nation’s military and intelligence community both at home and abroad,” he said. “Your courage has been unwavering as America has slowly healed from the tragic events on September 11, 2001. Let us also take a moment to honor those who were lost on that horrible day and their families who will forever cherish their memories. Thank you for your courage and may God continue to bless us all.”
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is glad to have closure on this battle while the war rages on.
“America has been waiting almost a decade for this moment,” Kaptur said in a statement. “It closes a major chapter in the struggle against those who attacked the United States. This effort owes so much to the thousands and thousands of soldiers who have died or been wounded since 9/11. We salute the courage and skilled of those who carried out this operation. This is a long struggle and I’m glad this particular chapter is closed.”
Obama was briefed in August 2010 on a lead about bin Laden’s location. He authorized an operation last week after months of secret meetings and following information.
“That’s a good sign that nothing was leaked before hand,” Englehart said. “Nobody knew anything was coming. Obama kept a normal schedule. That was a sign of competence that they took everybody by surprise.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is also pleased with America’s intelligence efforts.
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, America must remain vigilant in our anti-terrorist and counter-intelligence activities,” DeWine said in a statement. “As a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee both before and after 9/11, I know how vital American intelligence efforts are to maintaining our safety and security. Our nation is grateful to our special operations team for their courage, bravery, and willingness to act in the name of global security, and we thank all our men and women who, against very difficult odds, have worked diligently over many years to achieve justice.”