Monday, May 2, 2011
Southland law enforcement and elected officials were advising residents to remain vigilant today in response to the death of al- Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, although there were no specific threats of retaliation.
Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States. KPBS takes an indepth look at San Diego implications.
While the State Department issued warnings to Americans traveling abroad in sensitive areas to limit their travels outside their homes and hotel, it was largely business as usual today at Los Angeles International Airport.
"LAX is always on alert given that U.S. transportation systems are of interest to terrorist organizations," Airport Police Chief George R. Centeno said. "While we don't have any direct threat as a result of recent events, we will continue to provide infrastructure protection and high visibility law enforcement and security protection to the many passengers who travel through the airport every day.
"We will continue to monitor global events and stay in contact with our federal partners as the situation evolves through the next 24 to 48 hours," he said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck were scheduled to discuss security issues in response to bin Laden's death at a late-morning news conference.
Unconfirmed media reports indicated that security would be beefed up at some public venues, including Staples Center, which will play host to the opening game of the Los Angeles Lakers-Dallas Mavericks playoff series tonight.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also urged vigilance.
"This announcement tonight by President (Barack) Obama that Osama bin Laden has been killed is indeed historic, but we must continue to be vigilant and remain on guard against those that still seek to harm us," Villaraigosa said in a statement issued last night shortly after the news broke.
Also cautioning prudence was Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte.
"... I urge Americans both here and abroad to remain vigilant," she said.
"The killing of Osama bin Laden is indeed the most severe blow that has been dealt to al-Qaida, but we must never forget that there are still adherents of bin Laden that will continue his efforts to wage violent jihad against America and her allies.
"We must be prepared to repel and disrupt any retaliatory attacks that may result from this historic event," she said.
Deputy Jeff Gordon of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau said last night there were "no operations set up at this time" in the wake of Obama's announcement about bin Laden.
"We will deploy all resources and tactical responses necessary if warranted."
The Los Angeles Police Department had no immediate comment on possible security measures stemming from the death of the man behind the 9/11 terror attacks.
In Anaheim, the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, welcomed news of bin Laden's death.
"We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel," according to a statement from the group.
"As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and al-Qaida caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide."
Villaraigosa stressed that American Muslims have supported anti-terror efforts.
"We must also recognize that members of the Muslim community are and have been our partners against terrorism," he said. "They have worked side by side with us for years, and we have stood together against hatred and united as one nation against terrorism."
Gov. Jerry Brown said the successful strike against bin Laden showed that the U.S. is serious about avenging terrorism.
"Our friends as well as our adversaries throughout the world can be assured of America's resolve in combating terrorism and protecting the values of democracy and freedom," Brown said.
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, called bin Laden's killing "an extraordinarily significant event and milestone in out war on terror."
"I was acting mayor of Los Angeles that day and I recall activating the city's emergency operation center as we heard conflicting news reports of hijacked planes headed to Los Angeles," Padilla said. "We later learned that those planes had been tragically used to kill thousands of our fellow Americans in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania."
Bin Laden's death was announced to the nation in Washington by Obama, who at that point said U.S. authorities had the body in custody. Later reports said that bin Laden was buried at sea early today, after Saudi Arabian officials turned down an American offer to have him buried in that country.
The president called bin Laden's death "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al-Qaida" but warned that "there's no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant.'
News reports from Washington quoted American officials as saying following the speech that the operation against the al-Qaida leader could lead to more terror threats against the United States.