A major victory in the war on terror

Published 1:03 am Saturday, March 8, 2003

By By Jo Bonner
U.S. Representative, District 1
Many times in recent weeks, President Bush and members of his administration have come under increasing criticism for their apparent abandonment of the war on terror.
Specifically, the president has been accused of forgoing any further effort to find Osama Bin Laden and other leaders of the al Qaeda terrorist network and instead focusing on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
However, events of earlier this week have hopefully put an end to those arguments and silenced the critics of Mr. Bush and his international agenda.
In a pre-dawn raid conducted by American and Pakistani intelligence agents, al Qaeda's third highest-ranking member, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, was taken into custody along with a significant number of computers, software and other documentation.
Thankfully, the capture occurred quickly and peacefully and with no loss of life. As of this writing, Pakistani President Musharaff had authorized the prisoner's transfer to American custody, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other key agencies were due to begin their interrogation of him in the very near future.
How important is this?
While Sheik Mohammed's name may not be familiar to most of you, many of the events for which he is believed to be responsible over the years certainly will be.
It is believed that he was behind the 1993 bombing in the garage of the World Trade Center that left six men and women dead.
In 1996, an indictment was issued as a result of strong evidence of Sheik Mohammed's complicity in a plot to destroy American airliners flying over the Pacific Ocean.
Evidence also points to his involvement in the capture and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Undoubtedly, the most reprehensible act to which he is connected is the September 11th attacks that led to the loss of thousands of lives in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Sheik Mohammed was so proud and so arrogant about his involvement in this tragedy that he gave a radio interview in December 2002 in which he boasted that he was the mastermind of these attacks.
I don't think enough emphasis can be placed on how important this capture is in the war on terror. Clearly the seizure of Sheik Mohammed has struck a major blow against al Qaeda's organization and leadership.
More importantly, it clearly demonstrates that our president is still focused on the task of bringing an end to the organization that brought terror across the sea and to our shores.
There are many things that I as a congressman can try to do to help my constituents and my country. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to bring back the husbands, wives, sons and daughters that lost their lives sixteen months ago in these tragic attacks.
At this point, I can hope and pray that justice is served and that closure can be finally be provided for the survivors who remain to carry on the memory of their loved ones.
Millions lose a family friend
Any of you that know me are aware that my first priority in life is to my wife and children. There's no greater joy in life than having our little boy and girl run up to hug us when we walk through the door or share the exciting news of some wondrous experience they had during the course of the day.
During the past three decades, American children also had someone besides their parents who could share the wonder of life with them and teach them valuable lessons about family, friends and community.
That family friend was Fred Rogers, or Mr. Rogers to his millions of fans. With his passing last week, America finds itself with one fewer friend and person that many considered a part of their family.
An ordained Presbyterian minister and accomplished jazz musician, Mr. Rogers devoted much of his life to sharing important lessons with America's children and gave them another hand to hold as they faced the challenges of growing up.
Mr. Rogers always seemed to know what was important to our country's little boys and girls. Whether it was explaining the concept of sharing or reassuring children that everyone is unique and special and should all be accepted for their strengths and gifts, Fred Rogers was someone we could always depend on for understanding and support.
Later in his career, this gentle man turned his attention to our seniors, and through many television shows, lectures and books listened to the problems faced by older Americans and helped them find ways to cope with the new challenges in their lives. He was a friend to millions and encouraged them to continue looking for the joy to be found in each day.
Our world has changed quite a bit since Mr. Rogers first went on the air, and sometimes it seems that the lessons and guidance he tried to give us as children were lost as we got older.
We need to remember that the ideas of understanding, compassion and acceptance are just as important now as they have ever been. In the difficulties facing today's world, they will be important ideas to remember and to use as we try and improve life for everyone.
Mr. Rogers always said that every day was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is still beautiful, but his passing marks the end of an era and leaves a small void in all our hearts.
Please call if we can be of service. Until next week.

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