What does bin Laden's death mean to Muslims?Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Less that 24 hours after President Barack Obama made the stunning announcement that the U.S. had finally killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the face of global terrorism, reaction around the world ranged from jubilation in America and it allies to trepidation regarding the possibility of retaliatory attacks to dismay among bin Laden's followers.
Dr. Zudhi Jasser, the founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), sat down with Tara Hitchcock to share his thoughts on Sunday night's historic development in the fight against terrorism.
"I thought, 'Wow, we've been vindicated. We have a victory. We can move on, change the focus from this individual to the ideology we're fighting," he said.
"This operation is a testament to the dedication and steadfastness of the United States military, our homeland security, and intelligence community," Jasser said in a prepared statement Sunday night shortly after the president's speech. "There is no finer force than the men and women of the United States military who defend and secure our freedom every day.
"The death of Osama Bin Laden is significant because it closes a chapter in our war against Islamist extremists. But make no mistake this war is far from over. ... It is our hope that Bin Laden's death will serve as a means to transition this war from a reactionary approach to quell violence to a proactive war of ideas against the ideology that breeds the extremism."
When discussing the celebrations seen throughout the country in the wake of the announcement of bin Laden's death, Jasser said he was not concerned about inflaming anti-American sentiment.
"Our soldiers have earned this," he said. "Our country has earned it. We were unified on 9/12/01, and to see what we have done now finally -- we've gotten the man who perpetrated these acts. ...
"The radicals celebrate the deaths of innocents. We are celebrating the death of a man who has been brought to justice for war crimes against our homeland. There's nothing wrong with that."
Jasser said he was offended by bin Laden's burial at sea in accordance with Islamic customs requiring a speedy burial.
"It makes me sick to my stomach to think that they're trying to respect his religion," Jasser said. "He didn't respect our religion. He didn't respect the religion of our soldiers .... To say that somehow we're going to respect his faith, I think, is absurd ....
"I think we have to speak through strength that we are not going to allow our Western society to -- through political correctness -- observe whatever his radicalism is."