2011-05-05 / Front Page

Bin Laden Dead: Comfort To Flight 93 Families

By RON TODT
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Gordon Felt always believed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 terror attacks that killed his brother and nearly 3,000 others, would be killed. He just wasn’t sure he’d ever know about it.

Nearly 10 years after his brother, Edward, died on board the airliner that crashed in western Pennsylvania, Felt said bin Laden’s death brings “a measure of comfort” to him and the rest of the families of the 33 passengers and seven crew who were aboard.

“My greatest fear was that we would never know with certainty that bin Laden was actually dead,” said Felt, the president of the Families of Flight 93.

“He could have died of natural causes, and we would never have known, or he could have been killed in a drone attack and his body not recovered,” Felt said early Monday by phone from Remsen, N.Y. “I think that the ability of our military to kill bin Laden but recover his body will help us all rest assured that he is really dead.”

Felt called President Barack Obama’s announcement important news for the victims’ families and the world at large.

“To be quite frank, I am very happy that this man is dead,” he said. “I was always raised, obviously, never to hope for someone’s death, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. This man killed thousands of people of all races of all faiths, of all nationalities. He was evil personified, and our world is a better place without him.”

Former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Gov.Tom Ridge said he remained confident bin Laden would be found, despite a manhunt of more than decade.

“I always had confidence that at some point in time, the professionals in charge of the safety and security of this country would see to it that justice would be done,” Ridge said late Sunday night.

Ridge said even bin Laden may not have expected the resolve of the country in responding to the attacks, although “I’m sure his followers certainly appreciate it now.”

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing into the White House or Capitol, the 9/11 Commission found. Passengers fought back and the plane crashed into a field near rural Shanksville, about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

WPXI-TV reported Monday that people had apparently visited the crash site overnight, leaving items including a cardboard sign concerning bin Laden’s death.

Felt said he had not talked to other relatives of those who died on the plane, but would see them this weekend in Somerset, Pa., for a meeting of a federal advisory commission on a national memorial to be dedicated on the site. In September, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, a memorial service for the victims is planned along with dedication of the memorial.

The news of bin Laden’s death would not change the memorial service, he said.

“That occasion will be solemn. We regroup to mourn the death of our relatives,” he said. “But at the dedication of the memorial, there may be a change in the tenor of the ceremony, knowing that bin Laden is dead and how hard our government has worked ... certainly will have an impact.”

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