By Frank DeFrank
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
The death of the world’s most-wanted terrorist resonated Monday from the halls of Congress to the households of Macomb County.
Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, ran out of time and luck late Sunday night when an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs killed him in a compound in Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot in the head during the raid.
“The people of the world can feel relief and satisfaction that a monster has been brought to justice,” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said in a statement released Monday. “Justice has a long memory and a long arm.”
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, called the successful operation “tremendous news for our nation and the world.”
“Our terrorist enemies must understand that our great nation will never relent in our effort to bring to justice those who would perpetrate acts of murder against the innocent,” Miller said. “Let the death of this terrorist mass murderer stand as a symbol of our collective resolve.”
Bin Laden had eluded capture for nearly a decade. He had orchestrated the attacks that saw hijacked passenger jets deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people died in the attacks.
A fourth plane, believed headed for either the U.S. Capitol or White House, crashed in a Pennsylvania field when passengers thwarted the hijackers’ plans.
Bin Laden’s death was confirmed when President Barack Obama addressed the nation Sunday shortly before midnight Detroit time. But many were unaware of the news until Monday morning.
Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, learned of bin Laden’s death Monday morning when he arrived at a New York airport for his flight home to Detroit.
“I was not shocked,” Elturk said. “I knew some day he would be caught.”
In his role as a Detroit-area Muslim leader, Elturk has worked to convince non-Muslims that bin Laden and others like him have “hijacked” Islam, a religion that preaches peace and tolerance, not hatred and violence.
“Extremism has no basis in our faith,” Elturk said. “… We suffered at the hands of extremists.”
Recent political developments in Muslim nations in the Middle East serve as evidence that the anti-Western philosophy espoused by bin Laden is running out of steam.
“Hopefully, with the figurehead gone, things will simmer down,” the religious leader said. “We have to be alert … (but) for the long run, I think his movement is dying.”
As a man of faith, the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, is uncomfortable celebrating the death of a human being. But he left little doubt on his feelings about bin Laden.
“I personally had hoped he would have rotted in a cell,” said Curro, who suggested bin Laden’s death affords Americans of all faiths and beliefs another chance to move forward and leave behind a hateful past.
“There’s another opportunity for unity and level-headed people to speak out against extremism at every turn,” Curro said.
Dr. Steven Karageanes, then a physician with Henry Ford Hospital, traveled to New York in 2001 to offer his services to injured firefighters, police officers and volunteers as they searched in vain for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Karageanes, too, is optimistic that bin Laden’s death could turn a page in America’s history books.
“I guess I’m cautiously optimistic this may improve relations overall between the Muslim and non-Muslim world,” said Karageanes, now with the Detroit Medical Center. “I hope there is very little retaliation and we just move on.”