Many Tri-Citians helped victims, fought battles, mourned losses, faced prejudice and prayed for healing in a world that changed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The announcement Sunday that terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. troops brought out emotions in many of them. And while some wondered what would come next in the fight and in their lives, all agreed that justice had been served.
"It's a great day for America," said Hannan Chaugle, a heart surgeon at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and president of the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities.
The killings and bombings bin Laden ordered are against the teachings of Islam, he said.
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"He has misled the world by saying he was doing it for religion," Chaugle said. "He was doing it for his gains. He has more punishment waiting for him when he meets the creator."
It was important for President Obama to mention that the war against terrorists was not a war on Muslims, Chaugle said. Instead, it was bin Laden who needed to be held responsible.
"He has killed many Muslims," he said. "Yesterday was a joyful day for us at the (Islamic) center."
Relief was felt by many in the Muslim community.
"The first word in my mind was, 'Good,' " said Sabiha Khan, a history teacher at Kamiakin High School who is from Pakistan. "The next thing in my mind was, 'Oh, my gosh.' "
Khan had hoped that bin Laden wasn't hiding in her native country.
She was especially surprised to hear he had been hiding in Abbottabad, a small city just outside of the country's capital and home to a prestigious military academy.
"I know the place; I can visualize it," she said.
Her brother graduated from the Kakul Military Academy in the 1980s and Khan spent many a weekend visiting him on campus.
On Monday, Khan tried to help her 11th-grade history class put the event in context. The students were 6 or 7 years old when terrorists turned planes into missiles.
"They don't have a point of reference," Khan said. "It's almost like us reading about World War II."
Bin Laden's presence in Pakistan shows that Afghanistan no longer is a safe haven, said Reshad Jalayar, a pre-medical student at Washington State University Tri-Cities.
"It's time to end the wars and invest more money at home," he said.
He also said that bin Laden's actions were far removed from the teachings of his religion. Jalayar is a hafiz, which means he has memorized the Quran -- Islam's holy book -- in its entirety.
"Islam doesn't tolerate any form of terrorism," he said.
Yehia Ibrahim, the former president of the Islamic Center, came from an interfaith meeting with youth of Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths, when someone called him with the news.
"Justice has been served," is how he described his reaction. "Bin Laden has caused a lot of pain."
Ibrahim hopes that his death bring some closure to the relatives of those who died on Sept. 11.
That is unlikely, said Cpt. Mike Cobb, interim chief of the Richland Police Department. As a member of the nonprofit Critical Incident Stress Foundation, he went to New York a few months after the attacks to help first responders cope with trauma.
"Closure is a big word," he said. "This event changed the lives of people."
The kind of trauma experienced at ground zero nearly ten years ago won't be closed by a single event, he said.
"This is just another step in that experience," Cobb said.
Some Tri-Citians talked about the need -- or the refusal -- to forget.
"I hope no one forgets about 9/11," said Sean Taylor, an Army specialist who fought in Afghanistan.
Taylor was in high school in 2001. "I knew I had to do something," he said.
He enlisted, fought in the Middle East and developed a potentially fatal heart condition. Taylor now is with the Wounded Warrior Battalion in Kentucky, hoping that doctors will clear him to go back to Afghanistan, he said.
The news about bin Laden's death was "overjoying" to Taylor and his companions in Kentucky, he said.
Others were more reserved in their response.
"Those college kids celebrating -- that was not my feeling," said Shirley Schmunk, whose son, Jeremiah, died in Iraq in 2004.
She organizes the annual Time of Remembrance event, which brings together families who've lost loved ones in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also works as a contractor for the Army National Guard, coordinating services for survivors of fallen guardsmen and women.
"His death was justified," she said about bin Laden. "But my reaction was more solemn."
Schmunk received several emails today from people who've lost a loved one at war. One perfectly summed up her and others' feelings, she said:
"I'm glad they got bin Laden. But that doesn't change the loss we have to live with for the rest of our lives."
Islamic center statement
“We at the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been neutralized as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel. As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. A substantial number victims slain on 9/11 were Muslims, and he and al-Qaida caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also reiterate President Obama’s clear statement that the United States is not at war with Islam.
We pray that the justice brought about by this event will help heal the wounded hearts of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks.
We hope that this 10-year chapter has been closed, and that a new chapter based on peace and justice for all can begin.”
Tri-Citians talk about bin Laden’s death
* Yehia Ibrahim, former president of Islamic Center, works at PNNL: “Justice has been served. A lot of people from the Middle East I’ve talked to share the view that bin Laden caused a lot of harm to Islam.”
* Army Spc. Sean Taylor of Kennewick, served in Afghanistan, currently with Wounded Warrior Battalion in Kentucky: “I couldn’t be happier. It’s overjoying to me and I’ve talked to a lot of fellow soldiers here who also felt that way.”
* Cpt. Mike Cobb, interim Richland police chief, who went to New York City after Sept. 11 attacks to help first responders cope with trauma: “It’s not closure. (Sept. 11) changed the lives of people; they’re different because of it. That’s never closed.”
* Hannan Chaugle, president of the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities: “We are happy that he was brought to justice. He has misled the world by saying he was doing it for religion.”
* Shirley Schmunk of Richland, mother of Army National Guard Spc. Jeremiah Schmunk, 20, who died in Iraq in 2004 during an attack on his patrol near Baghdad. She organized the first Time of Remembrance in 2007 to honor soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is now an annual statewide event.
“It opened up a lot of wounds I thought I had hidden.”
* Sabiha Khan, history teacher, from Pakistan: “I was relieved. I said, ‘Good — it’s over.’ But I was surprised that he was in such a populated area.”
-- Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org