By Meredith Buel
U.S. officials and security analysts are warning that the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden will likely lead the terrorist organization to try to retaliate with violence against American and other targets.
The killing of bin Laden comes nearly a decade after the catastrophic attacks by al-Qaida terrorists on the United States September 11, 2001.
A team of U.S. commandos carried out the operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, an affluent area not far from the capital, Islamabad.
The U.S. State Department quickly issued a worldwide travel alert, saying the killing could trigger anti-American violence.
U.S. officials stressed bin Laden’s death will not end the fight against terror.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Continued cooperation will be just as important in the days ahead, because even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden.”
Since the 2001 attacks, security has been significantly strengthened at government office buildings and many other locations.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying it would not issue an alert due to bin Laden’s death, but said the agency remains at a heightened state of vigilance.
Riders on Washington’s subway system noticed more uniformed officers patrolling the stations.
At the main international airport in Los Angeles, officials said they have not received any direct terrorist threat as the result of bin Laden’s death, but will continue to provide high visibility law enforcement and security protection for passengers.
Analyst Robert Guttman with Johns Hopkins University said, “It’s not over. I think it’s going to be a heightened security all around the United States, especially in New York, Washington and London.”
Analysts say bin Laden in recent years had been relegated to a largely symbolic role with al-Qaida, and affiliated groups around the world represent the primary threat to Americans at home and overseas.
Richard Weitz is a senior analyst at the Hudson Institute. “We are all aware that initially it is going to be worse because we’re going to get some sort of retaliation, if they can do it,” he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama says bin Laden’s death will make the world a safer place, but had this warning about the future. “There is no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad,” he said.
Experts say while a devastating attack like 9/11 is less likely now, the threat is more complex and diverse than at any time in the past decade.