9/11 may have been the day that this pattern of violence became suddenly and undeniably clear. But bin Laden’s destructive path was already long by then, and for the past 10 years, America has been determined to bring this monster to justice.
From the beginning of this fight, the mission has been clear: to deny al Qaeda and any of its affiliates around the world a sanctuary from which they could plan, prepare or launch another attack on U.S. soil. And the effort to prevent that long-feared attack has been an undeniable success under two administrations in the ongoing War on Terror.
And yet a few short years after 9/11 al Qaeda had regained enough strength to once again pose a serious threat to the United States.
Meanwhile, the Taliban had reestablished its headquarters in Pakistan and had gained enough strength to return to Afghanistan and to risk the success of our mission there.
And as the years went by, Osama bin Laden’s ability to elude capture had become a greater source of frustration to us, and a source of propaganda to his followers.
Over the years, Americans had become all too familiar with bin Laden’s dark pronouncements — from his perverse declaration three years before 9/11 that it was the obligation of every Muslim to kill and fight Americans and their allies, whether civilian or military in any country,’ to his declaration after 9/11 that he had calculated the number of innocents he could kill that morning, and that he was the most optimistic planner of them all.
Last night, those proud pronouncements ended at the barrel of a gun. The last thing Osama bin Laden saw on this earth was the small team of Americans who shot him.
So Americans can be proud of the efforts of our military and intelligence communities, and the focused efforts of two administrations in fighting al Qaeda, and now, in capturing, its self-appointed leader. This is indeed a signal achievement, a huge victory in the war against terrorism, and a day of great pride for our country. The President made the right call, and we thank him for it.
We can never bring back those who died on 9/11, or those who have given their lives in this long and difficult war. But all Americans can say with renewed confidence today that we have kept our pledge, and that this is a war we will win.
Some will recall that Osama bin Laden launched this war many years ago on the false assumption that America didn’t have the stomach for the fight. And while it may have taken longer than we hoped, last night he and his followers learned just how wrong he was. We take great satisfaction in knowing that Osama bin Laden will no longer be able to carry out his evil plans, that he has made his last video, and that whenever someone suggests that the U.S. has grown weary and complacent in this war, we have shown how determined we are to fight it to the end.
History is full of fallen despots and madmen who underestimated the resolve of the United States of America. Last night we added one more to their ranks.
But we don’t rest, because we know al Qaeda’s determination to attack the United States didn’t end on September 11th, 2001. And it didn’t end last night.
We continue the fight, knowing that al Qaeda remains committed to attacking our homeland and our allies. We were reminded of this just last week, when police in Germany arrested three men associated with al Qaeda who were planning an attack there.
“Since the very beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, we have matched the terrorist threat with the valor of our armed services and counterterrorism professionals. The men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counterterrorism Center have unselfishly devoted themselves to preventing attacks against us, and in hunting down bin Laden. Last night their determined efforts met with success. And we’re deeply grateful for their efforts.
As for the broader war, the death of bin Laden may create the opportunity to renew our efforts with Pakistan to bring fresh pressure on al Qaeda’s senior leadership. President Obama noted in his remarks of last night that it is essential for Pakistan to join us in this fight. Today is the day to redouble our efforts in pursuit of al Qaeda.
In the coming weeks and months, these same counter terrorism professionals will focus on determining what bin Laden’s death means for the threat posed by al Qaeda affiliates in Somalia, Yemen, North Africa, and for the remainder of al Qaeda’s senior leadership.
But today, the world knows once again that wherever al Qaeda lurks, we will find them. It may not be days from now. It may not be months. But those who plot harm to innocent Americans and our allies will be captured or killed. For them too, justice will be done.
Anyone who lived through the horror of 9/11 remembers exactly where they were on that terrible September day. Now they will remember where they were when they first heard the news that the man behind it had been killed by brave American forces inside Pakistan. We’ll remember where we were when, after years of effort, we finally got our man.
America didn’t seek this fight. It came to us. But ever since 9/11, we’ve been determined to fight al Qaeda to the end. We knew from the start it would require patience and great sacrifice. And that effort has paid off. Thanks to the skill and perseverance of many brave men and women, we have done what we said. America has not wavered. It has not lost sight of the mission. And we will prevail.