The need to remain vigilant was cited repeatedly Monday as government and aviation industry leaders reacted to the reported death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. special forces in Pakistan.
The leaders of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee praised the Obama administration for the way it shared information leading to the successful operation early Monday morning local time against a compound north of Islamabad in which bin Laden was hiding. And they were united in the message that the death of Al Qaedaâ€™s leader does not mean the war on Islamic extremism has endedâ€”rather, the nation should remain on high alert for attacks in retaliation for bin Ladenâ€™s death.
â€śMy own great concern in the days ahead is that a so-called lone wolf, a single individual who has been radicalized will now mobilize himself or herself to take action here at home against the American people,â€ť said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the committee chairman.
At midnight Sunday May 1, theand the FBI issued a â€śsituational awareness alertâ€ť telling Homeland Security Department (DHS) officials and state and local law enforcement agencies to prepare for an increase in attacks or a speeding up of current terrorist plots, said the committeeâ€™s top Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine).
Thatâ€™s certainly an improvement in how information is shared among government agencies since the 9-11 terrorist attacks, she said. â€śBut we must not stop because the threat is still with us.â€ť
Theissued a worldwide travel warning late Sunday alerting U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad â€śto the enhanced potential for anti-America violence, given the recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan.â€ť U.S. government facilities around the world remain at a heightened state of alert, according to the State Department. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton said Monday, â€śWe should not forget that the battle to stop al Qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden.â€ť
Much the same message came from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who, while noting the significance of bin Ladenâ€™s death in the U.S. and elsewhere, said, â€śOur efforts to combat terrorism, however, do not fixate on one individual, and we remain completely focused on protecting our nation against violent extremism of all kinds.â€ť Napolitano said the DHS remains at a heightened state of vigilance, but does not intend to issue a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) alert at this time. â€śI have been clear since announcing NTAS in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public.â€ť NTAS replaces the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System that has been in place since 2002.
An Air Transport Association spokesman said his organization would continue to work closely with DHS and theâ€śto ensure our skies are secure.â€ť
Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International-North America, said bin Ladenâ€™s death is welcome news and there is a â€śheightened need to share intelligence on the threats we face, so that we can take strong, common-sense steps to keep our passengers secure while we move them quickly and efficiently to their destinations.â€ť
Also, Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, noted, â€śThe terrorist menace extends well beyond bin Laden, and for that reason, our vigilance and proactivity in defending our skies must continue.â€ť