Newsday: President Obama: ‘Justice has been done,’ bin Laden killed

May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Barack Obama said Sunday

"Justice has been done," the president said.

A small team of Americans carried out the attack and took custody of bin Laden's remains, the president said in a dramatic late-night statement at the White House.

A jubilant crowd gathered outside the White House as word spread of bin Laden's death after a global manhunt that lasted nearly a decade.

"His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity," Obama said.

Obama and his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, made capturing Bin Laden a key national security priority. Obama has called the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan the "epicenter of violent extremism," where he said al-Qaeda leader bin Laden was hiding.

The news brought a cheering, chanting crowd outside the White House fence before Obama was set to appear on television. And in New York, hundreds cheered, waved American flags, and shouted for joy.

Bush, who was in office at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks and famously said he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive, said the death of the al Qaeda leader was a "momentous achievement."

"The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done," Bush said in a statement.

At Ground Zero, Price Garrison, 19, an NYU freshman there with a group of friends, said, "It's a very national moment. The reason we came down here is that we know it's going to be part of history."

U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-Seaford), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement, "I commend President Obama on the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"Today, the American people have seen justice. The leader of the United States' top enemy has gotten what he deserves for orchestrating the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001. In 2001, President Bush said 'we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.' President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words. President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaida."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said, "This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom and cooperation for our children.

"I congratulate the president, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks."

William McCarthy of Huntington, who lost his son, Michael Desmond McCarthy, 33, said, in an interview, "I'm certainly stunned and elated at the same time. Someone has to be held accountable and he has to pay the price and if it entails his death, so be it."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation — and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation.

"New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001."

On Long Island, Mariann Bivona of North Babylon got the news and said she was stunned. Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks that killed her niece Catherine was dead.

"Oh my God," Bivona said late last night in the minutes before Obama spoke. "I just heard. I'm glad they finally caught up with him. It can't get my niece back but I'm glad they got him."

Rosemary Cain, of Massapequa, lost her son George 35, on Sept. 11. He was a firefighter with the city fire department's Ladder 7 who was living in upstate Patterson at the time of the attacks.

Last night she said the news of bin Laden's death "makes me sorry it didn't happen 10 years ago. There is justice for our boys. There is one less evil person in the world tonight."

Kathy Ugalde, of Deer Park, is the daughter of Ray Downey, 63, chief of rescue operations for FDNY. He died in the 2001 attacks. She said she was watching the news on television with her mother, Rosalie Downey.

"I got a bit of an adrenaline rush," Downey said.

She said if this had happened 10 years ago, shortly after her father's death, she wouldn't have cared so much.

"But 10 years later I feel a sense of relief to know they got the person that murdered your father," she said. "I'm still trying to take it all in. I feel relief, I feel sad, I feel like crying."

In Times Square, hundreds of people waited anxiously for the president to officially make the announcement of bin Laden's death. Among those was Kendra Myles, a 23-year-old student from Bayside. "Everyone was applauding and clapping," said Myles, who was inside a restaurant having dinner when someone ran into the restaurant an yelled that the al-Qaida leader was dead.

Said Joan Dwyer of Smithtown, who lost her son Patrick, 37, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald: "I'm glad to hear it. I do think it was something that had to be done. But all those poor souls, it will not bring them back."

With Tom Brune, Sophia Chang, Matthew Chayes, Anthony M. DeStefano, Chau Lam, Ridgely Ochs