The spiritual leader of a West Toledo mosque said Monday that bin Laden’s death is an opportunity for America and Muslims to “make positive change in the world.”
Imam Ahmed About Seif, of the Toledo Muslim Community Center, West Sylvania Avenue, said bin Laden was a murderer, not a martyr, and that he violated Islamic law by targeting civilians.
“Getting rid of Osama, that would be a great opportunity for both the Muslim people and the U.S. to work together toward the same goal,” Mr. Seif said through an interpreter, Mohammed El Nahal, chairman of the TMCC’s board of trustees. “In addition, killing bin Laden would enable the U.S. to free itself from just working toward bin Laden. Wow we have bigger goals to work toward. The people in the Middle East love the American people. Islam condemns terrorism.”
He said those goals are to advance the cause of “justice and freedom, and equality.”
He said people in the Middle East initially looked at bin Laden as a defender of their interests, but turned against him because his tactics targeted civilians.
Toledo Fire Chief Mike Wolever — vice chairman of the Ohio Homeland Security Advisory Council — said Osama bin Laden’s death means a lot to the war on terror.
“Everybody’s been waiting anxiously for this to happen,” said Chief Wolever, who has been the vice chair of the state-level group for about six years.
“We wanted to see him killed, not die of natural causes,” the chief said. “It’s just such an important facet of the war on terrorism to bring down the leadership. Everybody that’s been in the military knows that that’s not going to stop the wars, but it means a lot to everybody to see the people who masterminded [the terrorist attacks] fall.”
He said arresting bin Laden would have also been a satisfactory conclusion, but said it was widely predicted that bin Laden would not allow himself to be taken alive.
Chief Wolever said the bin Laden’s death doesn’t end the threat. He said other terrorists will try to take bin Laden’s place.
“Some sect is going to step up and try to make a name for themselves,” Mr. Wolever said.
“There may even be an increase in threat, depending on what analyst you listen to,” Mr. Wolever said. “We always knew that getting him wasn’t going to change the risk or the threat; it was our job to change vulnerability and harden the target.”
The Homeland Security Advisory Council reports to the governor on issues involving planning and capability and responding to terrorist attempts.
U.S. Senator Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) hailed bin Laden’s death as a victory for all Americans.
“As Americans, we will never forget the September 11 attacks, the 3,000 lives lost, and the effect on countless families across our nation,” Mr. Brown said in a statement distributed by his office.
“But now, nearly 10 years after that tragic day, the world’s most wanted terrorist will no longer threaten our nation’s democracy and freedom. This is a victory for all Americans and a testament to the sacrifice of our service members and their families, and the American intelligence community.”
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) highlighted the country’s persistence in going after the mastermind of the 2001 attacks on the United States.
“America has been waiting almost a decade for this moment. It closes a major chapter in the struggle against those who attacked the United States. This effort owes so much to the thousands and thousands of soldiers who have died or been wounded since 9/11. We salute the courage and skill of those who carried out this operation,” Miss Kaptur said in prepared remarks.
“This is a long struggle and I’m glad this particular chapter is closed,” she added.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement Monday morning:
“Today, we remember all of the men and women who have died at the hands of the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden. We pray for them and for their families.
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, America must remain vigilant in our anti-terrorist and counter-intelligence activities. As a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee both before and after 9/11, I know how vital American intelligence efforts are to maintaining our safety and security.
“Our nation is grateful to our special operations team for their courage, bravery, and willingness to act in the name of global security, and we thank all our men and women who, against very difficult odds, have worked diligently over many years to achieve justice.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), who noted that he visited troops in Afghanistan last week, issued a statement of thanks to the military and the intelligence community who made the operation a success.
“This welcome news follows years of tireless efforts by our government to bring to justice those responsible for attacking this country on September 11, 2001 and the numerous attacks before and since,” Mr. Portman said.
“While this is a milestone that we have all awaited, we must remember that al Qaeda and its affiliates are not dependent on one man and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to disrupt and destroy terrorist networks that threaten our Nation and allies,” he said in a prepared statement.