Leaders react to bin Laden’s death

Published 9:06 pm Monday, May 2, 2011

Virginia’s elected leaders expressed mixed emotions Monday in reaction to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, encouraging patriotic celebration while urging vigilance against new threats from the terrorist group he once led.

President Barack Obama announced late Sunday that a military operation designed to kill the al Qaeda leader had been successful. After years of seeking the terrorist leader and months of tracking leads to a compound in Pakistan, a group of U.S. Navy SEALs raided the compound and killed bin Laden. He later was buried at sea from the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.

“This is a great and historic moment for America and the world,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. “I applaud President Barack Obama, his administration and the brave men and women of our military for this successful operation.”

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McDonnell added the death brings justice for nearly 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2011, a terrorist attack for which al Qaeda took credit.

In Suffolk, one citizen tried to organize a “flash mob” at the Madigans restaurant on Pinner Street, but that event didn’t pan out.

In other areas of the country, particularly Washington, D.C., and New York City, two of the three sites where Sept. 11 victims died, citizens reacted by spilling onto the streets, dancing, waving American flags and chanting.

“Nearly 10 years ago, a small group of civilians became the first brave team of Americans to fight back in the War on Terror by crashing a plane in a Pennsylvania field to avert a suicide mission aimed at Washington, D.C.,” said Representative J. Randy Forbes, who represents Suffolk. “Late last night, we learned that another team of Americans, one comprised of our nation’s highly trained, elite Navy SEALs, had fought back once again and eliminated the evil figure responsible for plotting those attacks of Sept. 11, as well as dozens of other attacks aimed at the United States and our allies around the world.”

Forbes, however, stressed the need for continued vigilance, as many experts predict a retribution attack will come.

“We must remain vigilant against the metastasized threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates and resist the temptation to allow our joy to lure us into complacency,” Forbes said.