Families of 9/11 Victims Cheer, Cry Over News of Bin Laden's Death, Worry About Al-Qaeda Backlash

NY Daily News - May 02, 2011

by John Lauinger and Helen Kennedy

Across New York, cheers rose and tears fell in the thousands of homes where dining tables still have empty places and altars to the 9/11 dead still flicker.

"I am thrilled. I am just really overwhelmed," said Barbara Salvadore, 52, who lost her brother, Fire Lt. Peter Freund.

"It was a long time coming," she said, tears thick in her voice.

She said she saw the news on TV and then her phone began filling with messages and calls from loved ones as far away as California.

"I am just grateful to all the servicemen who made this possible," she said. "I am proud to be an American."

Monica Fletcher, 80, whose son, Andre, 37, was a firefighter with Rescue 5 on Staten Island, said she thanked God.

"The man who killed my son is dead," she said.

She had hoped to see this day ever since the day he died, she said.

Alice Hoagland, 61, of Los Gatos, Calif., whose son Mark Bingham, 31, was killed on Flight 93, was so excited she could barely speak.

There was pure joy in her voice.

"We are, we are very relieved that Osama Bin Laden has met his end at the hands of the U.S. government," she said, and praised President Obama for staying the course.

"I am just delighted that he has just persevered for us 9/11 families, and he finally brought Osama Bin Laden down into the ground," Hoagland said.

She said she fears a backlash, however.

"I am concerned about a backlash from Al Qaeda. When you are dealing with terror, you can only expect horror and hardship and inhumane treatment. We have had enough of that," Hoagland said.

"I appeal to the Muslim world to decry terrorism and to root out terrorism within its own body."

Mayor Bloomberg said, "New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news."

After the tragedy at the twin towers, he said, "We gave our word as Americans that we would stop at nothing to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.

"We have kept that word," he added.

Bin Laden's death "does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said he hoped Bin Laden's demise would "bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones" that day.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called it "a thunderous strike for justice" for the thousands murdered on 9/11.

"New York's heart is still broken from the tragedy of 9/11, but this at least brings some measure of closure and consolation to the victims and their families," he said.

Celebrations at firehouses

On the streets of the city, news spread from stranger to stranger on the sidewalk, and there were high-fives and cheers.

"He's dead!" crowed one man, who did some dance steps on Ninth Ave. People gathered outside bars cheered him on.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said there were celebrations at firehouses across the city.

"Osama Bin Laden was responsible for killing 343 members of the FDNY on Sept. 11, 2001," he said.

"Tonight, in firehouses throughout the city, our members are grateful for the news, and thankful to all the brave members of the U.S. military that had a role in this successful operation."

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), commended both President Obama and former President George W. Bush for their "resolve in this long war against Al Qaeda."

"Today, the American people have seen justice. The leader of the United States' top enemy has gotten what he deserves," King said.