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Obama: Osama bin Laden's death does not end fight against al Qaeda


Updated 1 a.m. ET

President Obama called the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden the "most significant achievement to date" of U.S. efforts to defeat al Qaeda since the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago, but added it does not mark the end of the fight.

"For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda's leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda," Mr. Obama said in a statement late Sunday night from the White House soon after news broke that Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.

"Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must -- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad," (watch the speech in the video above)

But while Mr. Obama was quick to add that the fight isn't over, he also stressed that the U.S. is not at war with Islam.

"Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity," Mr. Obama added.

In talking about the operation against bin Laden, who he called a "leader and symbol" for al Qaeda's fight against the U.S., Mr. Obama said the plans were first started last August when the CIA gathered intelligence on a possible lead as to where he might be hiding. Mr. Obama said last week he decided there was enough intelligence to take action.

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability," adding that no Americans were harmed and they took care to avoid civilian casualties.

Read the full text of the speech

The president was also noted that he talked with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari following the operation, and that officials agreed it was a "good and historic day for both of our nations."

"It is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates," Mr. Obama added.

Mr. Obama also recalled how 9/11 changed the country and made a call for a return to the "sense of unity" in the U.S. in the aftermath of the attacks.

"It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory," he said. "And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."

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