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Times Record News: Thornberry lauds Bin Laden killing

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Location: Washington, DC

Wichita Falls Rep. Mac Thornberry said Osama bin Laden's death means the removal of the force key in focusing terrorist attacks on the United States instead of targets in the Middle East.

"Every day that bin Laden lived was in itself an inspiration to terrorists, and so having him gone removes that inspiration," Thornberry, a Republican from Clarendon, said.

Bin Laden was adamant the United States should be al-Qaida's target instead of Saudi Arabia or other nearer targets, Thornberry said. Bin Laden brought together divisions within the Islamic extremist organization to focus on western targets, resulting in the deaths of Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. forces killed bin Laden in a firefight early Monday in Pakistan during an operation to capture him, President Barack Obama announced.

Thornberry, who went to Pakistan on an official visit in April, said bin Laden's death is "just a good thing for decent peoples everywhere."

But even as Thornberry welcomed the terrorist mastermind's death as a "pleasant surprise," he warned that al-Qaida members might lash out at the United States to prove they're still viable.

"So in some ways, I think that we are in a period of greater danger," Thornberry said. "But even though there may be some increased danger in the short-term, in the long term, it's a better thing."

Thornberry, who is an expert in intelligence and defense, traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as part of a congressional delegation in April.

Thornberry, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he met with high-ranking Pakistan officials, including military and intelligence leaders. They talked about their common interests.

"My impression's always been the government leaders and the military leaders viewed al-Qaida as a very serious threat to them," Thornberry said. "That does not necessarily mean that everybody down the chain of command saw it the same way."

The United States needs to look into that, as well as other issues connected to the discovery of bin Laden in Pakistan.

"We have to move relatively quickly," Thornberry said "It's always best to move quickly once you find somebody like this."

Thornberry said intelligence professionals who've hunted bin Laden for years deserve most of the credit for this success, and the president should be credited with deciding to go forward with the operation.

North Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer said he applauded the military and intelligence community.

"I join with President Obama, former President (George W.) Bush and Americans everywhere in praising the fact that justice has been done," said Neugebauer, a Republican from Lubbock who represents Young County and part of Archer County.

"This is a rare moment in history when all Americans can join together and celebrate, just as we joined together to mourn after September 11th," Neugebauer said.

He agreed with Thornberry that the United States faces an increased threat.

"I think we have to be cautious here and understand that while we've got the top person, the war on terrorism still goes on," Neugebauer said. "I think probably for the next few days and weeks, we have to be even more cautious."


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