Ten-year ‘hide-and-seek’ ends

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

By Cal Bryant



Thadd White

Staff Writer

America’s public enemy #1 is dead and the local reaction to Sunday’s military operation in Pakistan that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden has drawn mixed comments.

While all are pleased that the man directly responsible for the loss of thousands of American lives, including the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist strikes carried out in New York City and Washington, D.C., those offering comments each made reference to the ongoing battle to protect U.S. citizens and American interests.

“While the death of Usama bin Laden may satisfy many here within the U.S., it must be remembered that Al-Qaeda will continue to exist and function. Islamic-oriented acts of political violence and terrorism will continue unabated, if not increase temporarily. Ultimately, while some may argue otherwise, at this juncture in time, Usama bin Laden’s death is purely symbolic,” said Eddie Bulls, adjunct professor in history at Chowan University where he is concentrating his graduate work in Terrorism Studies.

Hertford County native Johnnie Ray Farmer (U.S. Army Sgt. Major – retired) said the killing of bin Laden, carried out on Sunday near the Pakistan capital of Islamabad, “is great news for America because it takes out the head of the evil faction that killed so many Americans on 9-11.”

“It’s a great day for our military; they have sought this man for ten years,” Farmer continued. “Our military proved how professional they are, and the fact that they don’t give up. You can run and you can hide, but not forever.

“I relate the Special Forces of our military to professional athletes,” he added. “I’ve worked with these guys; you’d be amazed at their stamina and physical fitness. They can endure so many hardships. They can stay out in the elements for days and days, without re-supply, march for many, many miles without relief and then, after doing all of that, complete the mission they were assigned. These men and women are great Americans.”

While Farmer agreed that the killing of bin Laden does not end the global war on terrorism, it does send a loud and clear message to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

“To those others that are plotting against America, the signal has been sent,” he stated. “It might take us ten years, but if you attack America we will come after you. We don’t give up; we will keep coming and we will make you pay.”

The Rev. Willie McLawhorn of Conway had a variety of emotions upon learning of the death of bin Laden.

Rev. McLawhorn and his wife, Diane, know firsthand the cost of the war on terrorism. Their son, U.S. Army Sgt. Will McLawhorn, was killed late last year in Afghanistan while serving his country in that war.

“My initial reaction was one of pride in our American military personnel for accomplishing the mission,” Rev. McLawhorn said. “It’s part of what my son joined the military for. He was proud of our country and thought that’s what he could do.

“To see Osama bin Laden, who instigated the 9-11 attacks, receive his justice made me proud for me and my son,” he added.

While glad to see bin Laden receive justice, Rev. McLawhorn said he was also mindful of the eternal repercussions of the terrorist’s death.

“As I’ve tried to process it, one of my concerns is that I’m sure he heard the gospel and the fact that Osama did not profess faith in Christ means he is spending eternity in the reward those of us as Christians believe face those who do not and that’s eternal hell,” he said. “Some may say he deserved it, but he didn’t deserve it any more than I would have it I hadn’t accepted Christ.”

Rev. McLawhorn praised the Obama administration for handling the situation well.

“I’m proud of the fact they were able to do it without getting the news media involved in it,” he said. “I’m proud of the current administration, even though I’m not a supporter most of the time.

“Military personnel can get a lot of things done when they are given the latitude to do it in a military way,” Rev. McLawhorn added. “Unfortunately, the war on terror has too often been political.”

Rev. and Mrs. McLawhorn each had the same reaction when thinking about what their now late son’s response to the news would have been.

“He probably would have been upset he wasn’t there in the middle of it all,” Rev. McLawhorn said. “Diane was asleep when it happened so I didn’t wake her. I told her the next morning and one of the first things she said was that Will would have wanted to be in the middle of it. He would have been well pleased that the man was taken care of and not captured.”

While he is glad this chapter is at an end, Rev. McLawhorn said it was also important for people to remember the war on terror isn’t at an end and that retaliation was possible.

“It’s a time when we can and should be proud as Americans,” he concluded. “The biggest thing to remember is that the war on terrorism isn’t over; retaliation is a definite possibility. Stay vigilant.”