PROVIDENCE — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed called the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos in Pakistan “good news, and testimony to the courage and skill of our military forces.
“I hope it is also a moment for the families of 9/11 to have a brief bit of solace after 10 years,” the state’s senior senator said Monday.
Reed, who is one of the Senate Democrats’ leading authorities on military and national security issues, said President Barack Obama “made a very difficult, tough decision. There was a lot at risk had it not been successful, but he was determined to get bin Laden and do it in a very deliberate, methodical way. This has been under planning for months and it all paid off last evening.”
Asked what bin Laden’s death means for the war on terror and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reed said, “he was the symbolic leader of the (al Qaeda) organization, his presence and his infrequent messages provided inspiration, so this is a very, very important development.
“The real test,” he added, “is what we do in the days ahead to build on this success. To communicate to the world and indeed the Islamic world that bin Laden was a threat to the whole world community. In fact, there were many more Muslims who were killed by his activities than westerners. There is an opportunity for us to work together and build effective governance.”
As for the concern about possible reprisals by al Qaeda or other bin Laden loyalists, Reed said, “I think there’s two major possibilities. First there are acolytes of bin Laden that might lash out in not a sophisticated way, but a potentially dangerous way. Then there are the very sophisticated cells that have been constantly planning to attack us, they might accelerate their planning, but this is not going to change what they have been trying to do for years — create havoc within the United States or Western Europe. That’s why we have to continue to keep up the intelligence operations, the police operations, the special operations in remote areas, all that stuff has to continue.”
Reed said it would be a mistake to confuse al Qaeda with many of the problems that are related to Afghanistan. He suggested the president should stick to his schedule of starting to withdraw American troops from that country this summer and complete the withdrawal in 2014. “I think that strategy is sound and it has to be carried out,” he said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse issued a statement that said, “Nearly ten years after the terrible events of September 11, 2001, justice has been done. Today I join all Rhode Islanders in thanking the covert and military teams who planned and executed this mission, after years of patient stalking. I hope this provides a turning point in the war against terrorism, and solace to those who have lost loved ones to this war.”
Congressman James Langevin said in a written release that, “The news of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of our armed forces is both a strategic and symbolic victory for the United States. Like so many millions of Americans, I vividly remember the shock and anguish that I felt on September 11. We are finally closing a chapter on a terrible moment in US history when thousands of innocent Americans were targeted and killed by terrorists led by this man who had nothing but hate in his heart. I commend President Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta and all who were involved in the execution of this mission. We have dedicated years of hard work and tenacious effort, spending huge amounts of time and money going after bin Laden, the architect of the 9/11 attacks and the global terror movement.
“This is a major landmark for our outstanding service members and intelligence personnel,” Langevin added, “psychologically and in the effort to combat terrorism around the world.”
Rep. David Cicilline declared, “I join the citizens of our nation and freedom loving people around the world in celebrating President Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of more than a decade of attacks on the United States and its allies, including the horrific attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001, is now dead.
“The death of this madman and the leader of al Qaeda is an extraordinarily important achievement in the War on Terror,” the 1st District Congressman said, “and as we approach the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we remember the innocent lives lost that day and the sacrifice and dedication that the brave men and women in our armed forces and intelligence services make every day on our behalf.
“We must remain steadfast in our resolve to bring all of those who are responsible for terror against the United States to justice,” Cicilline concluded.