According to the private SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors radical Islamist Web sites, jihadists threatened retaliation Monday against Americans for the death of bin Laden. One called for attacks on American tourists. Another warned that those who celebrate the killing will face men “who do not fear death and who will reap your souls.” Yet another wrote that Americans should expect to see “hell.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Monday that the United States “will continue to take the fight to al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies.” Appearing before reporters at the State Department, she said: “Even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden.”
She added: “Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance. You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process.”
George J. Tenet, director of the CIA at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, expressed gratitude Monday on behalf of “those of us who worked against bin Laden and al-Qaeda going back to the mid-1990s, across three administrations.”
“This act of courage and professional discipline, hopefully, will bring healing to families who lost loved ones on the USS Cole, at our embassies in East Africa, the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania,” Tenet said. “We must also never forget the families of our allies around the world who have also suffered from heinous acts of terrorism inspired by bin Laden.”
But Anthony H. Cordesman, a military and terrorism expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said bin Laden could gain some posthumous stature. “Extremists and terrorists are likely to admire the fact that Osama is reported to have died fighting, and that the U.S. had to destroy one of the helicopters used in the raid,” he said. “They will take the same comfort if reports are correct that two bin Laden couriers, and one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, were also killed in fighting the SEALs.”
The killing of the terrorism mastermind who had eluded U.S. forces for nearly a decade drew a spontaneous, cheering crowd late Sunday outside the White House gates and at New York’s Ground Zero, the site of al-Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
“We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies,” a somber Obama said Sunday night in his nine-minute statement that aired live on television worldwide. “We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to families who have lost loved ones to al-Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.”