In an address to a Joint Session of Congress following the September 11, 2001, attacks on our nation, President George W. Bush emphatically announced, “Whether we bring them to justice or bring justice to them, justice will be done." Last week, justice was served as U.S. forces stormed the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden had been hiding. The death of bin Laden, a murderer and the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, confirmed America’s resolve.
Remarkable Collaboration Among our Unsung Heroes
I am thankful for our brave men and women in uniform and the intelligence professionals who played a part in accomplishing this dangerous mission. Their efforts show the remarkable collaboration between our national security operatives, Armed Forces, and others in orchestrating the demise of bin Laden. These unsung heroes, including many Mississippians, continue to pursue al-Qaeda around the world with tremendous dedication and sacrifice.
The Importance of Remaining Vigilant
Osama bin Laden’s ruthless assaults on Americans and our allies began well before 2001. As the leader of al-Qaeda, he planned or supported numerous other deadly terrorist attacks, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 suicide bombing on the USS Cole in Yemen, and the 2004 and 2005 blasts on commuter trains in Madrid and London.
Following that dark day on September 11, 2001, countless terrorist plots have been prevented because of increased vigilance and enhanced cooperation at every level. While bin Laden’s death was demoralizing for al-Qaeda, it does not mark the end of the War on Terror. Instead, we should use this opportunity to refocus on what has kept our nation safe since September 11. This successful mission should also serve as a reminder that the U.S. will not rest until those who would do us harm are stopped.
The Future of Afghanistan
One important effort aimed at preventing future attacks continues to be the U.S. action in Afghanistan. We must not lose our resolve and allow that country to serve once again as a staging ground for those who seek to harm the United States and our allies. Any review of our troop levels in Afghanistan must be based on conditions on the ground. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to meet with our commanders in the field, and I look forward to General David Petraeus’s professional recommendations this summer as he begins his new role, Director of the CIA.
Although al-Qaeda has suffered a significant blow, it is not the end of their terror network or their pursuit for a safe haven. As many as eleven al-Qaeda groups are currently operating worldwide, and we need to be concerned about them all. The fight against terrorism is not over, nor is the war in Afghanistan. The remaining members of al-Qaeda and other violent Islamist extremist groups are intent on killing innocent men, women, and children around the world. I will continue to support the members of our Armed Forces and intelligence personnel as they work to accomplish their difficult task. Their efforts are critical to protecting Americans both at home and abroad.