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U.S. rejoices in bin Laden's death
Locals support action against terrorist mastermind
WEB Bin Laden-Reaction Heal
Carroll Fisher, of Auburn, Wash., a retired member of the U.S. Air Force, waves a flag for passing cars he stands on the "Freedom Bridge" just outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday near Tacoma, Wash., the day after President Barack Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. - photo by Associated Press

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks responsible for nearly 3,000 American deaths, was shot and killed in a firefight with elite American forces in a Pakistani hideout as part of an early morning raid.

As word of bin Laden's death leaked in the United States late Sunday night - through social media websites and national news telecasts - thousands of people gathered for celebrations, waving American flags at ground zero in New York and outside the White House gates.

Citizens flocking to the White House and the site of the 2001 attacks huddled together, jubilant over the death of the man who had, for 10 years, been the international symbol of terrorism. A reaction similar to what some in Bulloch County were feeling.

"I was surprised and ecstatic; I think most people were," said Daniel Iler, of Nevils, who first heard the news before going to bed Sunday night. "So many people died in 2001, and he was solely responsible for it."

"It is sad any time a life is taken, but he was a mass killer," said Rev. Alton Hobbs, of Metter. "I was happy for the many people who lost loved ones as a result of the attacks."

"It took 10 years to find him," said Hobbs. "So, it was definitely a relief."

According to Dr. Krista Wiegand, a Georgia Southern political science professor who specializes in terrorism and the Middle East, the death of bin Laden was a major psychological victory for the American people.

"Osama bin Laden, even though he is just one person, is a very symbolic person as the leader of al-Qaida and the brains behind the September 2001 attacks," she said. "[Bin Laden's] being captured and killed is a huge event because it brings a lot of closure that was necessary for this country. To finally get retribution creates a sense of celebration because it is has taken so many years."

As a result of bin Laden's death, a country that has been on the offensive for a decade must ready itself to prevent an attack against it, said Wiegand.

"I think the U.S. government and allied governments need to be prepared for revenge attacks," she said. But, "if there are going to be attacks, I think they will be minor and from fringe elements."

"I think killing bin Laden will make terrorists want to do something for revenge," said Iler. "But ultimately it is a success that will help us, because the global community knows that we can catch guys like bin Laden."

It is uncertain what the ramifications of bin Laden's death will be, or what impact the action will have on al-Qaida and Islamic terrorism.

Wiegand expects the death to leave extremists reeling.

"I think: even though he is just one person, he was extremely influential and inspirational to so many radical Muslim extremists," she said. "This is a serious blow to Islamic terrorism because he was the figure head.
For some time, I think, Islamic terrorists will be lost and not sure what direction to go in."

Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454.



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