U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States has “cut off” the head of al-Qaida due to the killing of Osama bin Laden, and will ultimately defeat the terrorist group.
Mr. Obama said Friday because of the “incredible skill and courage” of many people, the person who led the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, will never threaten the U.S. again.
The president made his remarks at the Fort Campbell army base in Kentucky, after meeting privately with members of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL team that raided bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan Monday and killed the al-Qaida leader.
In his speech at Fort Campbell, Mr. Obama said he told the Navy SEALs involved in the raid “job well done.”
President Obama gave his speech to hundreds of soldiers who recently returned from Afghanistan. He welcomed them home and commended them for their service. He also said progress is being made to disrupt and dismantle al-Qaida.
Fort Campbell is home to a special U.S. Army unit that flew the SEALs to bin Laden’s compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where they carried out an operation that killed the al-Qaida leader.
Also Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the killing of bin Laden could be a “game-changer” for U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan. Gates said it is too early to tell, but that in six months or so, officials may know if the death has made a difference. Gates said it could affect the relationship between al-Qaida and the Taliban, noting that bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar had what the defense secretary called “a very close relationship.” A Pentagon spokesman said Gates met Thursday with the team that killed bin Laden.
Gates said there are others in the Taliban who felt betrayed by al-Qaida because of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which led to the U.S. invasion that drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.
The White House on Friday said the U.S. is being “extremely vigilant” about possible retaliatory attacks by al-Qaida.
U.S. officials say an initial review of documents seized from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad shows al-Qaida considered a terrorist attack against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.