By Matt Ulmer and Faith Walauskas –
They got him.
“Justice has been served,” said President Barrack Obama in an impromptu televised speech from the White House late Sunday night after he declared U.S. forces had killed terrorist Osama bin Laden.
After almost 10 years of trying to track down the purported mastermind of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S., bin Laden is confirmed dead. U.S. Navy Seals reportedly shot and killed him during a raid on a compound in Pakistan, according to several published news reports.
Adults and students at Penn Manor had strong reaction to the news.
Darius Howard, a senior at Penn Manor, said that he was “glad that we found him, but I wish we would have tortured him–he killed a lot of people. I’m glad we have a president who can clean up after the last presidents’ messes. (As for retaliation), If they want it, they can come get it.”
Penn Manor Junior Jordan Gerlitski first joked saying, “Yeah, I killed him.”
But Gerlitski then got more serious.
“I was shocked, I knew it was going to be all over the news and something to talk about in school. It’s a bittersweet feeling, because even though it was who it was, we still did kill someone,” said Gerlitski.
“As for Obama’s popularity,” Gerlitski predicted. ‘It will definitively improve his image, but I think he’s going to milk it out, overuse the glory and try to call it all his own rather than who actually killed Bin Laden.”
Gerlitski also added, “Wasn’t there, like, a $50 million reward on his head?”
Social studies teachers in particular took a keen interest in the news.
Cindy Lonergan, teaches social studies at Penn Manor but has a connection to Sept. 11 as a New York native.
“This is definitely one of the biggest days in history, he was wanted dead all over the world,” said Lonergan.
She pointed out that on the same date, 66 years ago, the death of Adolf Hitler was announced, a man responsible for more than 11 million deaths during his reign of terror.
I’m surprised,” said Penn Manor history teacher Rich Brenton. “It’s been a long time and it seemed to me like the whole liquidation of bin Laden was on the back burner.
“It was a good move,” Brenton said. “It was something that needed to be done and the repercussions are way less than they would of been two years ago.”
But people are still talking of possible repercussions.
Although crowds cheering in the streets in New York and other locations insist justice was served in bin Laden’s death, other questions are surfacing that have Americans on their toes.
Will this change al Qaeda? Will this change terrorism? What happens with national security?
“The goal is to be a martyr and sacrifice yourself,” said Lonergan. And I think they are going to use this to praise him.
“Their greatest goal is to die for this cause, and that’s sometimes the scariest thing to face,” said Lonergan.
“The main worry is whether or not remaining members of al Qaeda will react in a violent way,” said Jeremy Kirchner, also a history teacher. “I think in the short term they’re going to be prepared for retaliation. Who could they be supporting now that Bin Laden is gone.
“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” said Obama in his address.
According to CNN news, the U.S. government was aware of a mansion in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan last August, and had been secretly watching the compound to confirm bin Laden’s presence.
Then, in a super secret operation, special forces flew into the compound in helicopters, engaged in a fire fight with bin Laden and supporters, killed bin Laden, his son and two couriers and gathered lots of documentation from the compound, according to CNN reports.
When one helicopter had mechanical failure, the special forces destroyed it to prevent it from becoming part of the terrorist intelligence operation.
Adults in the school reacted about the turn of events.
“It’s good for victims of 9-11,” said Aron Basile, a safety ed teacher. “He’s an evil creature, I’m glad he’s gone. He got what he signed up for. His (bin Laden) hole was a million dollar compound.”
Lisa Campbell, food service worker, said, “Finally he was found, more than found, but, I have a feeling it might stir some more things up (retaliation). But I hope I’m wrong.”
Sierra Woodworth, a sophomore at Penn Manor says, “I was shocked to hear it, but I’m glad we found him. I definitely have more respect for Obama, and fearful in the perspective of retaliation for sure.”
Bin Laden was called a super terrorist by many. A man who was ruthless against the West, a man who would stop at nothing and kill thousands without remorse.
Al-Qaeda translates into English as “The Base,” which was what Bin Laden called his terrorist organization that had approximately 3000 followers. Since his death, U.S. embassies all around the world have been put on high alert, watchful against al-Qaeda retaliation.
Originally, bin Laden teamed up with the Taliban, the former rulers of Afghanistan, who took control of most of Afghanistan after the Soviet Union collapse in 1989, according to published reports. The Taliban had supported Bin laden through his ‘jihad,’ or ‘holy war,’ which was a dedication made to kill all American citizens and Jews.
The history of bin Laden involved in fighting began back in the 1980’s when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and bin Laden began a resistance towards the USSR, forming armies and education systems in the process, which later formed into Islamic radical training centers.
After the fall of the Soviets, bin Laden reportedly moved to Saudi Arabia when U.S. Soldiers responded to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. He was against the invasion believing soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia were occupying the birthplace of Islam.
Because of this, bin Laden charged Saudi Arabia with ‘deviation of true Islam.’
Reports showed bin Laden then went to Sudan in 1992 where he claimed responsibility for anti-U.S. attacks in Yemen and Somalia.
In 1994 bin Laden returned to Afghanistan and increased his terrorist activity, encouraging terrorist activity in other parts of the Islamic world.
The 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were linked to bin Laden.
His most devastating attack toward the U.S. were the September 11, 2001 airliner crashes into the World Trade Center in New York City, a airliner crash into the Pentagon and the airline crash in Shenksville, Pa.
Ever since then, the U.S. made the killing or capture of bin Laden a top priority to bring justice to the killer of over 3000 American citizens.
Included in the speech broadcast all over the world last night was an explanation how the operation was formulated. United States Intelligence had been tracking a lead dating back to late summer, explained Obama. They identified a courier who was one of the few trusted by bin Laden according to officials. They tracked the courier to a compound that was far too large and too expensive for couriers to afford.
When the news was announced Sunday night, thousands gathered at the White House and Ground Zero where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed.
The announcement also was made over the loudspeaker at Citi Field where the New York Mets were playing and the crowd erupted with chants of “USA! USA! USA!”
Coincidentally, the announcement took place in the ninth inning, with a score of 1-1…or “9 11.”
Many predicted the capture and killing of bin Laden would affect the political landscape.