ANCHORAGE, Alaska — People on the streets of Anchorage Sunday evening were surprised to hear the dramatic news of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan, announced from the White House by President Obama, but soon began to consider its repercussions.
“I think it's good, it's good it finally happened,” said Marian McLaughlin. “I don't really know what this means, what is going to happen next: are we going to stay, are we going to go? This was the whole reason we went over there -- what's next?”
“I guess for me, it was just kind of, ‘Well, um, he's dead, so yeah -- now what?’” said Aaron Bowman. “It's just morphed into such a much bigger thing than he is, I think that it is pretty symbolic. And I guess one thing that did go through my mind, just how many innocent people were killed in the name of getting him? And it didn't -- it's not exactly a moment of celebration for me.”
Other people's first thoughts were about the essential nature of the conflict with Al Qaeda.
“That it really doesn't matter: terrorists are still going to be around, and we're still fighting for our freedom,” said Wendy Goodrich.
“I was totally shocked, I really did not know what to say,” said Forrest Dickson. “It's a big surprise to me, thinking that they've been trying to get him ever since I was in eighth grade and boom -- he's gone now. So, I don't know if it's a plus or I don't know, it's just shocking to me. They've been a long time looking for him and stuff; I don't know what else to say besides that.”
Alaska’s U.S. senators both issued statements that hailed bin Laden’s death as a milestone in the war on terror.
“I applaud our military men and women, President Obama, and our intelligence officers for this historic moment. Since the unforgettable tragedy of September 11 nearly a decade ago, Americans have waited for justice to be served,” said Sen. Mark Begich. “It was a decade-long commitment by two presidents and thousands of American service members that I hope brings some sense of relief for the families of 9/11 victims and will help break the Al Qaeda network worldwide.”
“His death is a direct result of the determination of America's military and intelligence forces -- and it casts a well-deserved spotlight on our men and women who fight in the shadows,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “The lesson here to the world: If a fight is brought to the American people, we will finish it. But it's crucial that the world recognize while the man is gone, the mindlessly-violent Al Qaeda movement he led and the hatred he represented are still very much alive.”
McLaughlin said she was unsure about the extent of the blow bin Laden’s death has dealt to the terror network.
“Not necessarily, I think he still has a lot of people working for him,” McLaughlin said. “Even though he's gone, I think that the organization will still exist; I don't think that this means that everything is said and done now, but he's a ringleader so maybe we're safer.”
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