Killing of Osama bin Laden a major step in war on terror

He was the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on America’s mainland and the architect of global terrorism. But more than that, Osama bin Laden was the personification of evil. He cloaked his acts of death and destruction in religious pronouncements, thus convincing his followers to blow themselves and countless innocents to smithereens all in the name of Allah.

Bin Laden lived by the sword, and so it was fitting that he die by the sword.

President Barack Obama echoed the sentiments of all Americans and many people around the world when he declared late Sunday night, “Justice has been done.”

For nearly 10 years, the people of the United States have been waiting for the announcement that the world’s leading terrorist and founder of the top terrorist organization, al-Qaida, had been killed. A death by natural causes would have been salt in the wounds this nation suffered when Islamic extremists trained by al-Qaida hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into New York City’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. About 3,000 perished — and bin Laden and his followers celebrated.

As the years passed and he eluded capture, even with a $25 million bounty on his head, hope began to fade.

But on Sunday night, in a brief address to the nation from the White House, President Obama spoke the words that were at once healing and sobering: “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”

The impromptu demonstrations outside the White House and at Ground Zero in New York City gave voice to the joy and relief of the families of the Sept. 11, 2001, victims and all fair-minded citizens who are willing to give credit where credit is due: The Obama administration, in general, and the military and counterterrorism professionals, in particular.

However, as the excitement over bin Laden’s death lessens, there is a reality that can’t be ignored by America and its allies in the war on global terrorism: Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s chief deputy, is still alive and on the loose. Al-Zawahiri deserves to be targeted next because he is now considered the moral leader of the terrorist organization.

The Egyptian physician is just as guilty of crimes against humanity as bin Laden. His death would mark the end of the troika that has caused suffering throughout the world.

Chief financial officer

Last year, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, also known as Saeed al-Masri, a founder of al-Qaida, was killed by a U.S. drone attack. He was the organization’s chief financial officer and managed secret bank accounts in the Persian Gulf that were used to help finance the Sept. 11 attacks.

President Obama, aware that the threats to America and its allies did not with Sunday night’s raid, had this to say:

“... his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must — and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.”

The killing of bin Laden by a special U.S. armed forces team brings to an end the speculation surrounding his whereabouts. He wasn’t holed up in some remote tribal area on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, but rather was in a house in Abbottabad, about 35 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

While President Obama said “our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden,” the idea of the world’s leading terrorist living under the noses of Pakistani military and intelligence officials triggers concerns about that country’s commitment to the war on global terrorism.

There are al-Qaida cells and affiliates in more than 60 countries, which is why there can be no let up in the battle of good vs. evil.

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