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Lawmakers from region praise military’s efforts



Published: Tue, May 3, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-17

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U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Poland, R-6th

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Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown. (AP Photo/Larry Phillips)

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State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The killing of Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, doesn’t mean the war on terror is over, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

But with bin Laden killed in Pakistan by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs on Sunday, almost a decade after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the United States is “safer,” said Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

“He was the key operational leader of al-Qaida,” Ryan said of bin Laden. “This was a huge blow to them. They’ll try to attack the United States harder [in retaliation], but they’ve been trying and not succeeding for years.”

With bin Laden’s death, Ryan said he’s hopeful the United States “can move towards winding down our operations in the Middle East.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, who served in the Air Force when “bin Laden started his reign of terror,” said the terrorist’s “death is a testament to the professionalism of our military and intelligence communities and brings an end to a dark chapter in our nation’s history.”

However, the nation’s “fight against terrorism continues and dangers persist,” Johnson said.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire of McCandless, Pa., D-4th, said the nation “must remain vigilant and continue the fight against terrorist extremists, wherever it leads.”

The congressmen praised the U.S. military for the successful mission to kill bin Laden. U.S. forces raided his compound Sunday in Pakistan, killing him in a firefight and took the body, burying it at sea Monday.

Al-Qaida, under the leadership of bin Laden, crashed commercial airplanes into World Trade Center One and Two in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001. Passengers on a fourth plane, taken over by al-Qaida terrorists, fought back with the plane crashing into a field in Somerset County, Pa., leaving no survivors. About 3,000 Americans were killed in the attacks.

“Osama bin Laden’s death represents a victory for all Americans and for freedom-loving people everywhere,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler, Pa., R-3rd. “It is the fulfillment of the world’s call for justice after the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette of Bainbridge, R-14th, praised President Barack Obama, the military and those who work in intelligence.

“This was a gutsy and risky move to enter the highly fortified compound,” he said, adding, “While justice was a long time coming, this top-secret effort results in justice being served.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Avon, said: “This is a victory for all Americans and a testament to the sacrifice of our service members and their families.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Cincinnati, called the killing “a milestone that we have all awaited” but cautioned that al-Qaida isn’t “dependent on one man and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to disrupt and destroy terrorist networks that threaten our nation and allies.”

John Boccieri, a former U.S. House member and state legislator who served in Afghanistan and Iraq as an Air Force Reserves pilot, said: “We delivered justice to the thousands who lost their lives to terrorism.”

State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said this is a great moment for all Americans.

“I’m so happy that we finally got him,” he said. “I only wish we could have gotten him sooner. It’s a credit to our resolve. It’s incredible to feel elation over someone’s murder, but when you consider what a terrible, terrible person he was, the world’s better without him.”

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, describes himself as a “good liberal, Catholic boy who wonders if assassinations should be part of our democracy. But I don’t think there was any other way to bring Osama to justice other than killing him. I don’t think in this case it was possible to bring him back alive.”

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, said the bin Laden killing sets “the tone and drives the [point] home that if you’re going to commit these terrible crimes and murders against people who live in our country, we’re going to get you eventually. It will make people think twice about trying to do something like that again.”

State Sen. Jason Wilson of Columbiana, D-30th, said he’s “sorry the families of the 9/11 victims had to wait 10 years for justice.”

Wilson also said that “it’s time the United States starts punching back. I’m tired of it. We’ve been the beacon of democracy for over 200 years. If we’re going to be the police officer of the world, we should fight back, be decisive and then leave. People should fear the United States out of respect. Oftentimes, that’s not the case.”


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