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Bin Laden Death Sparks Jubilation in Maine--and Dismay over Mosque Vandalism
05/02/2011   Reported By: Josie Huang

The U.S. killing of 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden is rocking the world. And it's holding a particular significance in Maine, where two of the al-Qaida terrorists began their journey to destroy the World Trade Center.

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Bin Laden Death Sparks Jubilation in Maine--and Di Listen

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The reactions were wide-ranging, including the bewilderment of Portland Muslims whose mosque was vandalized (above) just hours after hours after President Obama announced bin Laden's death; there was the cold comfort felt by Mainers who lost loved ones in the attacks.

IMAG0188And then there was the fist-pumping joy of Michael Tuohey (right). "Yes, yes, he's dead!" Tuohey, of Scarborough, is the US Airways ticket agent who checked in Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari at the Portland International Jetport, en route to Boston--and has been haunted by the experience ever since.

"I felt a certain joy--which you're not supposed a feel, you know, at someone's death," he says. "When it happened to Hitler, I'm sure a lot of people felt that way too."

In Portland, Abdiaziz Mohammed said his Islamic faith says that evil-doers need to be brought to justice. "Whoever it might be--it could be a good Muslim, or bad Muslim," he says. "You do something bad, it should be justice, you know? If he did what the media is saying, I think that should be the right justice."

But in the aftermath of bin Laden's death, Mohammed was more focused on the graffiti someone spray-painted in red on his mosque on Anderson Street Monday morning--sometime after morning prayers ended at 6:30 a.m., police investigators say.

The phrases read: "Osama today Islam tomorow (sic)," "Long Live the West" and "Go Home" and "Free Cyprus" --an apparent reference to the occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey, a Muslim country.

"It feels to me like I'm not welcome," Mohammed says. "I know everybody is not the same, I know some people don't like us, but, you know, there's nothing we can do about it--it is different people, different background, different religion, you know. "It doesn't have to be all the Muslims are bad--there are a lot of good Muslims and and a lot of bad Muslims. In our community, we all are good Muslims here."

Across town, outside her Portland office, U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree condemned the vandalism at the mosque, calling it bigotry. "Frankly, the president was very clear--this is not a war on Islam, this was the end of the reign of a mass murdererer who killed many Muslims, as well as killing Americans."

Pingree also says the U.S. killing of bin Laden is a time to re-evaluate its military operations in Afghanistan, which she opposes.

"This is a great victory for the president, for our intelligence capacity, for our troops. But it also shows us that some of these targeted operations is where we have our greatest success, not in the enormous operation in Afhagnistan that involves nation-building and has, frankly, not been as successsful as people had hoped."

Both she and other members of the Maine congressional delegation agreed that this was also a good time to re-evaluate the country's relationship with Pakistan, where bin Laden was killed.

In Washington D.C., Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins called Pakistan a "critical but uncertain ally." She questioned how bin Laden could have gone unnoticed by Pakistani authorities, given that he was living in a huge compound just an hour north of the capital. "This tells us, once again, that unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game, and that's very troubling to me," she says.

Collins, who was speaking at a news conference with fellow senior member of the Senate Homeland Security Commitee, Independent Joe Lieberman, says that there may be a need to release proof of bin Laden's demise.

"I recognize that there will be those who will try to generate this myth that he's alive, and that we missed him somehow," she says. "And in order to put that to rest it may be necessary to release some of the pictures or video or the DNA test."

In Gorham, Gordon Ward was watching the aftermath of bin Laden's death unfold on television. He lost his son Stephen, who was working on the 101st floor of the the World Trade Center's north tower when it was struck by one of the terrorist-hijacked planes.

"This is a real milestone for the United States, but it's not closure for people who have lost family members in 9/11," Ward says. "I mean, it helps, though, but it's not just complete closure."

Ward says that nothing short of his son coming to life again can bring him full closure.



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