Osama bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda and perpetrator of the 9-11 attacks on the United States, is dead.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Sunday night about the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist. Obama said he authorized last week the operation that killed bin Laden. The terrorist leader was killed in a firefight in Islamabad, Pakistan. No U.S. troops were harmed in the operation.
“We have never forgotten your loss,” Obama said, while addressing the United States in a speech at 11:35 p.m. Sunday night Eastern Standard Time (9:35 p.m. Costa Rica time).
A U.S. official told the Associated Press that bin Laden’s body was buried at sea. The body was handled according to Islamic practice and tradition, which requires the remains to be buried within 24 hours of death. The sea burial was chosen since finding a country willing to accept the terrorist’s remains would have been difficult. In addition, this type of burial prevents bin Laden’s grave site from becoming a shrine to followers.
The government has searched for bin Laden for almost a decade after he masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Bin Laden’s death comes several months before the 10-year anniversary of those attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people and brought down the World Trade Centers in New York City. The attacks led to a chain reaction that eventually sent the United States into wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq. It also led to an overhaul in the way the U.S. conducted its domestic security.
Obama added in his speech that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam. He said bin Laden was responsible for the death of many Muslims, and that the Islamic world should celebrate the terrorist leader’s death. Moreover, the killing of bin Laden represented justice for those who lost loved ones in the 9-11 attacks, Obama said, and demonstrated the determination of the “American people.”
How bin Laden’s death will affect the terrorist network (and also cries to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan) will unfold over the next few weeks.
“His death does not mark the end of effort,” Obama said. “We must, and we will, remain vigilant at home and abroad.”