The events that led to the ongoing Iraq War have deeply affected and will continue to affect Americans worldwide. As a former soldier who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I applaud our presidents, past and current, along with our military’s continued efforts to bring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to justice. Late Sunday night in a special televised report, President Barack Obama announced to the world that covert military operations were responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden.
After nearly 10 years of searching for the most wanted man in American history — responsible for the events of Sept. 11 and the deaths of close to 3,000 Americans — he has finally been eradicated. Soon after the announcement, Americans took to the streets with impromptu celebrations at Ground Zero in New York City and in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. Some may think the celebration of another human being’s demise is crude, but I can empathize with the feelings of loss many felt after 9/11 and understand that this event may bring some sort of closure to those who were directly affected.
This is a monumental event in history; however, it is important to remember that we cannot become complacent. As Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton was quoted as saying, “Even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden.” I wholeheartedly agree; I believe that as long as we have boots on the ground and soldiers risking their lives for our freedom and for the freedoms of oppressed people worldwide, that we should continue our efforts to rid the world of terrorist and militant sects who espouse violent extremism.
Many loyalists to bin Laden remain, ready to continue where he left off, and the death of a leader – no matter how influential – does not signify an end to the war against terror and terrorists. Yemen, along with North and West Africa, are areas of concern for the United Sates and its allies, and I think the true test is whether or not the years of hard work by military personnel, diplomatic professionals, intelligence and the American government will pay off. I think it will. We continue to gain momentum in the fight against extremists. Hopefully, that momentum will lead to an ending to this lengthy and costly war that so many Americans, young and old, have had to endure.
Namatie Mansaray is a graduate student studying public policy. She can be reached at [email protected].