PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge says he never doubted that someday Osama bin Laden would be brought to justice.
“I always had confidence that at some point in time, the professionals in charge of the safety and security of this country would see to it that justice would be done,” Ridge said late Sunday night.
Ridge said even bin Laden may not have expected the resolve of the country in responding to the attacks, although “I’m sure his followers certainly appreciate it now.”
“The horror that he visited upon the United States, the cowardliness, the evil associated with al Qaida, not only what they’d done on 9/11 but in the intervening 10 years around the world, just sharpened the resolve,” he said.
On a personal level, he said he hoped that parents who have lost sons and daughters would feel that their children had not died in vain.
“For the families of 9/11, there’s some closure, hopefully, he said. “It doesn’t eliminate the pain associated with their loss, but this country made a commitment to them, their spouses, their children, their friends, and we kept that commitment.
“The final chapters are yet to be written but it’s good to bring this one to such a dramatic and appropriate closure,” he said.
Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, called President Obama’s announcement “important news for us, and for the world.
“It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones,” he said in a statement. “It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil.”
Felt, who lost his brother, Edward, in the crash of hijacked Flight 93 in western Pennsylvania, said by phone from Remsen, N.Y., early Monday that said he had always been confident that bin Laden would someday be caught or killed — but he feared he might never know about it.
“My greatest fear was that we would never know with certainty that bin Laden was actually dead,” he said. “He could have died of natural causes, and we would never have known, or he could have been killed in a drone attack and his body not recovered. I think that the ability of our military to kill bin Laden but recover his body will help us all rest assured that he is really dead.”
“To be quite frank, I am very happy that this man is dead,” he said “I was always raised, obviously, never to hope for someone’s death, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. This man killed thousands of people of all races of all faiths, of all nationalities. He was evil personified, and our world is a better place without him.”
Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing into the White House or Capitol, the 9/11 Commission found. Passengers fought back and the plane crashed into a field near rural Shanksville, about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. All 33 passengers and seven crew members died.
Felt said he had not talked to other relatives of those who died on the plane, but would see them this weekend in Somerset, Pa., for a meeting of a federal advisory commission on a national memorial to be dedicated on the site. In September, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, a memorial service for the victims is planned along with dedication of the memorial.
The news of bin Laden’s death would not change the memorial service, he said.
“That occasion will be solemn. We regroup to mourn the death of our relatives,” he said.
“But at the dedication of the memorial, there may be a change in the tenor of the ceremony, knowing that bin Laden is dead and how hard our government has worked … certainly will have an impact.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)