May 012011
Authors: Collegian Staff and McClatchy-Tribune

Students ran up and down the halls of Corbett Hall chanting “USA! USA!” Sunday night after President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House confirming that U.S. forces have killed Osama bin Laden, ending the long, elusive international manhunt for the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“Justice has been done,” Obama said in a 10-minute address shortly before midnight, EST. To watch his full speech, click here.

After a firefight, a small team of U.S. operatives killed bin Laden Sunday in Abbottabad, Pakistan, took custody of his body and confirmed his identity, Obama said. The president said a possible lead to Obama’s whereabouts emerged last August but took “many months” to run down.

Obama determined last week that there was enough intelligence to take action, he said. Sunday’s targeted operation went down without harm to Americans and without civilian casualty, he said.

“The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam,” Obama said. “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”

Celebratory crowds flocked outside the gates of the White House, waving American flags and singing the national anthem, while students in Corbett Hall ran up and down the halls shouting at the top of their lungs.

“He got what he deserved. I’m so thankful for the men and women serving in the military right now,” said Chelsea Duncan, a freshman human development and family studies major and Corbett resident.

Obama said the Pakistani government had cooperated with the United States to make the operation possible.

Bin Laden has been the target of history’s most intense international manhunt, an operation that’s focused on the remote tribal areas of Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

While bin Laden’s death will represent a major blow to the international terrorist network that he led, U.S. officials have long said that it will not end the threat of Islamic extremist because al-Qaeda has metastasized into lethal branches based in Yemen and North Africa and has inspired militants around the world.

His death also represents a major boost for Obama, coming as the president struggles with an uncertain economic recovery and mixed public sentiment about the U.S. approach to civilian uprisings in Libya through the Mideast and North Africa before he faces re-election next year.

“I think this is going to be one of the most defining moments of Obama’s first term,” said Associated Students of CSU spokesman Matt Strauch.

But bin Laden’s death is unlikely to alter the course of the insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda has been playing a secondary role to the Taliban and allied militant groups.

Once seen by Washington as a freedom fighter, bin Laden launched the militant organization al-Qaeda during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Over the years, al-Qaeda provided training to as many as 11,000 men who passed through its terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda is now thought to have secret soldiers in four dozen countries.

Federal authorities have implicated bin Laden in some of the bloodiest crimes of the past decade, in addition to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

“Today marks a historic day for America. Osama bin Laden was finally brought to justice for the crimes and terrorist acts he’s committed in the United States and around the globe,” said Colorado State Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp (R-Littleton) in a statement released on Sunday night. “We are forever grateful to our brave soldiers and intelligence services that relentlessly sought this villain and brought an end to his reign of terror.”

The Collegian staff can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:17 pm

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