In a tense game at Citizens Bank ballpark, the Phillies had pulled even with the rival New York Mets. It was a riveting baseball game, but the crowd suddenly became distracted. Soon, chants of "U.S.A." broke out and the players on the field and hitter at the plate looked around confused at the sudden display of patriotism.
The news was that Osama bin Laden had been found and killed by U.S. forces. Nearly ten years after the attacks of 9/11, the initial shock of the news quickly gave way to relief that our nation's most visible enemy had met his death. The overwhelming reaction among Americans was not hatred. It was pride that justice had been served and relief that a symbol of evil had been removed from this world.
There is no doubt that the discovery and death of bin Laden is a significant victory in the war against radical Islamists. The founder and leader of al Qaeda, bin Laden has been actively seeking to harm Americans for nearly two decades. We all remember how the attacks he planned and funded in Africa, the Middle East, and here in the United States killed innocent men, women, and children of all races and religions.
He was a bloodthirsty terrorist who openly wished for a violent death. Unfortunately, he did not stand alone. He was not discovered hiding in a cave detached from the world. His multi-million dollar hiding place filled with computers and supported by a network of trusted couriers shows that al Qaeda remains both sophisticated and dangerous even after being forced out of the bases in Afghanistan.
President Obama deserves praise for continuing the effort started under President Bush. Building on critical leads uncovered years ago, our intelligence agencies performed their work with dedication and secrecy. We may never know the names of the men and women who risked their lives to discover bin Laden's hiding place and raid his compound, but we can still admire and thank them for their exemplary service.
Even during his long period in hiding, bin Laden plotted attacks. In all likelihood, he was looking to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with more killing and mayhem. His colleagues will continue to work. There will be others who will be inspired by his example. We have won an important battle, but others will continue the war he started.
Bin Laden's admirers are not powerless. Indeed, some of them have the ability to motivate many others to commit acts of violence. Ismail Haniyeh, the senior leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, praised bin Laden and condemned the United States for bringing him to justice. He, like many other terrorist groups, referred to bin Laden with the honorary title of "sheik."
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is organized across the Middle East, also mourned bin Laden's passing saying he, "ascended to heaven as a martyr after waging a heroic battle against the Crusader forces on Pakistani territory."
While bin Laden was buried at sea, there are already some in Pakistan who would make a shrine out of his compound. Some have already come to pay their respects to this murderer.
Bin Laden's ideology of hatred will outlast his life. Despite a long search, we were determined to bring him to justice. Al Qaeda and others will continue to look for ways to harm Americans and anyone else who does not subscribe to their violent ideology. We must protect innocents and continue to capture and kill terrorists.
I am grateful that we have dedicated public servants who kept up the search through dry and difficult periods. Our intelligence and military personnel deserve thanks for risking their lives to accomplish this great task.
We continue to reduce our forces in Iraq and I hope that this year will see critical progress in Afghanistan. Even when these forces come home, we will need to remain vigilant. It is all too easy for a small group or a single individual to plot and attack that kills many. We should not let this recent success go to our head.