bin.laden.announcement.jpgIn the wake of news that Osama bin Laden was killed over the weekend, Bay Area leaders recognized the significance of the terrorist leader’s death but cautioned that the war on terror is far from over.

Nearly ten years after the actions of bin Laden and al-Qaida on Sept. 11, 2001, changed the lives of thousands and destabilized the country’s sense of security, bin Laden’s death brings some comfort and closure to the families who lost loved ones that day.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement that “his death doesn’t lessen the tragic loss of all those killed by al-Qaida, or the pain of their loved ones, but it closes a chapter on his unspeakable act.”

But while state congressional members, including Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, heralded the president and the thousands who have fought for justice in the war on terror, many leaders said that the closure it brings is temporary.

Miller, who issued a statement applauding President Obama for making bin Laden’s capture a top national security priority, also looked to the work that lies ahead.

“Bin Laden’s death will not, of course, bring back the thousands of lives lost through his reign of terror,” he said, adding that he hopes bin Laden’s demise will bring closure to those families who lost loved ones on 9/11.

Despite the collective sigh of relief as crowds gathered across the nation to celebrate the news, Miller cautioned that “we cannot confuse bin Laden’s death with a sense of diminished threat to Americans or American interests,” and called for vigilance in national security procedures.

“The network of terror that bin Laden spawned over a two-decade long period is still active. There is no shortage of individuals or organizations who would do harm to our country and our citizens.”

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, echoed Miller’s sentiment in his own statement that stressed al-Qaida’s metastasis.

“The biggest security threat to America isn’t one person or one country, but rather the ideologies and conditions that fuel extremism and terrorism,” he said.

While fewer than 100 members of the terrorist group remain in Afghanistan, Garamendi said, its network “is spreading its roots throughout the globe, in places like Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and even the United States.”

“We must focus on al-Qaida like a laser wherever they reside,” Garamendi said.

A more focused strategy, involving cooperation between special forces and intelligence, Garamendi said, is what is needed to achieve success in the war on terror.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, also expressed hope that bin Laden’s capture will prompt tactical changes, especially regarding the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan.

Lee said she hopes the recent developments “will help to accelerate an end to the war in Afghanistan and the implementation of a smart security strategy to strength U.S. relationships and address the root causes of terrorism around the world.”

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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