Local Muslims Express Relief Over bin Laden's Death, but Say Retaliation Is Imminent

Local Muslims tell "Patch" the death of Osama bin Laden is a victory, but it does not mean the battle against terrorism is over.

More details are being revealed Monday about the U.S. military operation that ended with death of America's most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden. He was reportedly killed in a million-dollar compound in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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The news came from President Obama late Sunday night, a decade after the 9/11 attacks claimed more than 3,000 American lives. 

As many across the world celebrate the death, local muslims are expressing a sense of relief Monday.

"Justice is served. So many many people suffered as a result of his actions. Not only the 3,000 plus people who were killed at the World Trade Center, but afterward, so many people suffered because of his actions. So it is a sense of justice," said Gulten Ilhan, a Muslim-American professor of world religions.

Ilhan formerly served as the vice president of the Council on American Islamic Relations and worked as a representative with the , which has its largest mosque located in Manchester off Weidman Road.

Ilhan heard of the president's "big announcement" on national security on Facebook Sunday night. She and her daughters then sat in front of the TV waiting to hear what she learned was news of bin Laden's death.

"Although it's not a huge victory for the fight against terrorists, it's quite symbolic because he's the No. 1 person, or he was. He was such an icon in the world of terrorism, so this is a huge victory," Ilhan said. "Getting Osama does not mean this is the end of terrorism. We have to be realistic."

This is a sentiment shared by Ghazala Hayat, chair of the Islamic Foundation Public Relations Committee.

"It's the closure of a very painful chapter, but I don't think it's the end of a book," Hayat told Town and Country-Manchester Patch. "We are naive to think that there will be no retaliation. There will be some repercussions. I don't know how effective they will be, but unfortunately, innocent people will pay the price."

Hayat is careful not to downplay the significance of bin Laden's death, which comes as good news to the Muslims she's spoken with.

"Everybody is saying the same thing, that we are happy. It's been a horrible loss of lives, the attacks, our troops too," Hayat said.

However, Hanan Rahman, who also attends the Islamic Foundation mosque in Manchester, questions the timeliness of bin Laden's death.

"I felt like they could have caught him before this with the technology that we have, I mean we're using google maps," Rahman said. 

The Webster University student and editor of the Islamic Reflections newspaper said it's hard for her to understand, ''I've always been confused about why we started looking for him , then shifted to Iraq and Saddam Hussein and we found him right away."

All three women say bin Laden did so much to damage the Muslim community locally, around the country and around the world.

"Our lives here changed forever because of his actions in this country. I know many people who have suffered, particularly those who wear the head scarf, " Ilhan said. "He murdered more Muslims than you can imagine, so he 's not a good representation of Islam or Muslims because he hurt Muslims more than anybody."

"We have been saying that from day one. These are terrorists who happen to be Muslim, but they are not representatives of Islam or Muslims," Hayat said. "They're ideology is so twisted that Muslims cannot even understand where they are coming from."

And now, like many Americans, these Muslim-Americans wonder where they, the terrorists, are going from here.

"OK. Good, it's done. But is that really going to affect terrorism around the world? That's the big question," Hayat said. "If he would have been killed in 2002, it would have had much more impact. It would have broken the back of that organization (al-Qaida), but now I do not know how much of an impact it will have because they have so much infrastructure."

"I wish they would have gotten him earlier. It took us 10 years. I am relieved that it is over, at least going after Osama bin Laden, but now we'll have to see what happens as a result," Ilhan said. "I don't what to see any more attacks or any more sufferring. I hope not. I pray not. I hope they don't retaliate. I do not want more innocent people to suffer."

Another issue what weighs heavily on the womens' minds Monday is the news that bin Laden was found in a pricey compound in Pakistan. They say that location was shocking to them.

"When the news came of where he was found, that really bothered me," Hayat said. "In the middle of the city, he's living in a mansion. I thought he was suffering in caves, like many people, so this really bothered me."

"Everybody in the U.S. thought he was in a cave in Afghanistan," Ilhan said. "No one would have imagined he was in an urban area in a million-dollar compound. This was a shock to me."

As the U.S. government said Monday bin Laden's body was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic law and to avoid his gravesite from becoming a shrine to terrorists.

"I just said may God rest his sole, may God forgive him for what he's done,"Raham said. "But I felt the American celebration was very disrespectful. I know he committed atrocities to Americans and to many Muslims, but I still have to respect the dead."

Hayat said the Islamic Foundation will not be following its traditional practices for the death of a Muslim.

"As Muslims, we get together and pray for them, but if someone does these horrible things, we will not pray for them," Hayat said. "Right now, it's just a sigh of relief."





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