Obama Declares ‘Justice Has Been Done’

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2011 — “Jus­tice has been done,” said Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in announc­ing the death of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. mil­i­tary oper­a­tion in Pak­istan.
An Amer­i­can coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and coun­tert­er­ror­ism team killed bin Laden dur­ing a fire­fight near Islam­abad, the pres­i­dent said dur­ing a short state­ment from the White House late Sun­day night.

“Tonight I can report to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and to the world that the Unit­ed States has con­duct­ed an oper­a­tion that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qai­da, and a ter­ror­ist who is respon­si­ble for the mur­der of thou­sands of inno­cent men, women and chil­dren,” the pres­i­dent said.

The attack ends a man­hunt of almost 10 years. Bin Laden and his hench­men planned and exe­cut­ed the attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, that killed 3,000 inno­cent Amer­i­cans in New York, Wash­ing­ton and Penn­syl­va­nia.

Oba­ma thanked “the count­less intel­li­gence and coun­tert­er­ror­ism pro­fes­sion­als who have worked tire­less­ly to achieve this out­come.” “We give thanks for the men who car­ried out this oper­a­tion, for they exem­pli­fy the pro­fes­sion­al­ism, patri­o­tism and unpar­al­leled courage of those who serve our coun­try,” he said. “They’re a part of the gen­er­a­tion that has borne the heav­i­est share of the bur­den since that Sep­tem­ber day.”

He said Amer­i­cans also were unit­ed to pro­tect the nation and to bring those who com­mit­ted this vicious attack to jus­tice. “Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tire­less and hero­ic work of our mil­i­tary and our coun­tert­er­ror­ism pro­fes­sion­als, we’ve made great strides in that effort,” the pres­i­dent said. “We’ve dis­rupt­ed ter­ror­ist attacks and strength­ened our home­land defense.”

Soon after 9/11, Amer­i­can forces removed the Tal­iban gov­ern­ment that had giv­en bin Laden and al-Qai­da safe haven and sup­port. Around the globe, U.S. per­son­nel worked with allies to cap­ture or kill scores of al-Qai­da ter­ror­ists.

“Yet, Osama bin Laden avoid­ed cap­ture and escaped across the Afghan bor­der into Pak­istan,” Oba­ma said. “Mean­while, al-Qai­da con­tin­ued to oper­ate from along that bor­der and oper­ate through its affil­i­ates across the world.”

Short­ly after tak­ing office in 2009, Oba­ma direct­ed CIA Direc­tor Leon Panet­ta to make the killing or cap­ture of bin Laden the top pri­or­i­ty of the U.S. war against al Qai­da. “Then last August, after years of painstak­ing work by our intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, I was briefed on a pos­si­ble lead to bin Laden,” Oba­ma said. “It was far from cer­tain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground.”

Oba­ma met with the nation­al secu­ri­ty team as more infor­ma­tion came in. The al-Qai­da leader was hid­ing in a com­pound inside Pak­istan, and last week he ordered the strike. “Today, at my direc­tion, the Unit­ed States launched a tar­get­ed oper­a­tion against that com­pound in Abbot­tabad, Pak­istan,” he said. “A small team of Amer­i­cans car­ried out the oper­a­tion with extra­or­di­nary courage and capa­bil­i­ty. No Amer­i­cans were harmed. They took care to avoid civil­ian casu­al­ties. After a fire­fight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took cus­tody of his body.”

While his death marks the most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment to date in America’s effort to defeat al-Qai­da, it does not mean the end of U.S. efforts. “There’s no doubt that al-Qai­da will con­tin­ue to pur­sue attacks against us,” the pres­i­dent said. “We must and we will remain vig­i­lant at home and abroad.” The pres­i­dent stressed again that the Unit­ed States is not and nev­er will be at war with Islam.

“I’ve made clear, just as Pres­i­dent Bush did short­ly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam, because bin Laden was not a Mus­lim leader. He was a mass mur­der­er of Mus­lims,” Oba­ma said. “Indeed, al-Qai­da has slaugh­tered scores of Mus­lims in many coun­tries, includ­ing our own. So his demise should be wel­comed by all who believe in peace and human dig­ni­ty.”

Oba­ma thanked Pak­istan for its help in the oper­a­tion. It’s impor­tant to note that our coun­tert­er­ror­ism coop­er­a­tion with Pak­istan helped lead us to bin Laden and the com­pound where he was hid­ing,” the pres­i­dent said. “Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pak­istan as well and ordered attacks against the Pak­istani peo­ple.” Oba­ma spoke with Pak­istani Pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zardari and all agreed that this is a good and his­toric day for both nations. “Going for­ward, it is essen­tial that Pak­istan con­tin­ue to join us in the fight against al-Qai­da and its affil­i­ates,” he said.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple did not choose this fight,” the pres­i­dent said. “It came to our shores and start­ed with the sense­less slaugh­ter of our cit­i­zens. After near­ly 10 years of ser­vice, strug­gle and sac­ri­fice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as com­man­der in chief, have to sign a let­ter to a fam­i­ly that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a ser­vice mem­ber who’s been grave­ly wound­ed.”

But Amer­i­cans will not tol­er­ate being threat­ened, Oba­ma said. “We will be relent­less in defense of our cit­i­zens and our friends and allies,” he said. “We will be true to the val­ues that make us who we are.”

Oba­ma spoke to those who lost loved ones on 9/11, telling them that the coun­try has nev­er wavered in its deter­mi­na­tion to bring bin laden to jus­tice. “Tonight, let us think back to the sense of uni­ty that pre­vailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed,” he said. “Yet today’s achieve­ment is a tes­ta­ment to the great­ness of our coun­try and the deter­mi­na­tion of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

The war is not over, he said, “but tonight we are once again remind­ed that Amer­i­ca can do what­ev­er we set our mind to. That is the sto­ry of our his­to­ry, whether it’s the pur­suit of pros­per­i­ty for our peo­ple, or the strug­gle for equal­i­ty for all our cit­i­zens, our com­mit­ment to stand up for our val­ues abroad, and our sac­ri­fices to make the world a safer place. “Let us remem­ber that we can do these things, not just because of wealth or pow­er, but because of who we are: One nation, under God, indi­vis­i­ble, with lib­er­ty and jus­tice for all.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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