Well, good morning. As President Obama said last night, Usama bin Ladin is dead, and justice has been done. And today, I want to say a few words about what this means for our efforts going forward.
First, I want to offer my thoughts and prayers to the thousands of families whose loved ones were killed in Usama bin Ladin’s campaign of terror and violence, from the embassy bombings in Africa, to the strike on the U.S.S. Cole, to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and so many more. These were not just attacks against Americans, although we suffered grievous losses; these were attacks against the whole world. In London and Madrid, Bali, Istanbul, and many other places, innocent people – most of them Muslims – were targeted in markets and mosques, in subway stations, and on airplanes, each attack motivated by a violent ideology that holds no value for human life or regard for human dignity. I know that nothing can make up for the loss of the victims or fill the voids they left, but I hope their families can now find some comfort in the fact that justice has been served.
Second, I want to join the President in honoring the courage and commitment of the brave men and women who serve our country and have worked tirelessly and relentlessly for more than a decade to track down and bring Usama bin Ladin, this terrorist, to justice. From our troops and our intelligence experts, to our diplomats and our law enforcement officials, this has been a broad, deep, very impressive effort.
Here at the State Department, we have worked to forge a worldwide anti-terror network. We have drawn together the effort and energy of friends, partners, and allies on every continent. Our partnerships, including our close cooperation with Pakistan, have helped put unprecedented pressure on al-Qaida and its leadership. 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 Ladin. Indeed, we must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts.
In Afghanistan, we will continue taking the fight to al-Qaida and their Taliban allies, while working to support the Afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security. We are implementing the strategy for transition approved by NATO at the summit in Lisbon, and we supporting an Afghan-led political process that seeks to isolate al-Qaida and end the insurgency. Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaida and participate in a peaceful political process.
In Pakistan we are committed to supporting the people and government as they defend their own democracy from violent extremism. Indeed, as the President said, bin Ladin had also declared war on Pakistan. He had ordered the killings of many innocent Pakistani men, women, and children. In recent years, the cooperation between our governments, militaries, and law enforcement agencies increased pressure on al-Qaida and the Taliban, and this progress must continue and we are committed to our partnership.
History will record that bin Ladin’s death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its heinous ideology.
All over the world we will press forward, bolstering our partnerships, strengthening our networks, investing in a positive vision of peace and progress, and relentlessly pursuing the murderers who target innocent people. The fight continues, and we will never waver. Now I know there are some who doubted this day would ever come, who questioned our resolve and our reach. But let us remind ourselves, this is America. We rise to the challenge, we persevere, and we get the job done.
I am reminded especially today of the heroism and humanity that marked the difficult days after 9/11. In New York, where I was a senator, our community was devastated; but we pulled through. Ten years later, that American spirit remains as powerful as ever, and it will continue to prevail. So this is a day, not only for Americans, but also for people all over the world who look to a more peaceful and secure future – yes, with continued vigilance, but more so with growing hope and renewed faith in what is possible.
Thank you all very much.