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Mississippians Reflect on Osama Bin Laden’s Death

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 May 2011 03:45pm | comments
Carol Hicks displays a flag with the names of all the 9/11 victims.

Now that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorists attacks has been killed, some Mississippians are asking what happens next in the War on Terrorism. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.

Carol Hicks' son Lt. Col. Jerry Don Dicerkson was one of who Mississippians killed in the 9-/11 terrorist attacks.

"My son, Jerry Don Dickerson Jr, we knew him as DD, as killed at the Pentagon on 9/11," said Hicks.

Dickerson spent more than twenty years with the military. He was working at the Pentagon as a systems analyst on the day he was killed, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Hicks says she learned about Osama Bin laden's death late Sunday night.

"I was really surprised but I guess you would say pleasantly surprised. I don't believe in killing people but at the same time he set the stage for it and he did have opportunity to surrender," Hicks said.

Hicks blames Bin Laden for the deaths on 9-11 and all the deaths from both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She hopes that Bin Laden's death means the end of the War on Terrorism but worries it will just lead to more violence.

"We are to love our neighbors and forgive, but at the same time...I just really pray that it doesn't cause more problems but I am afraid that it will," Hicks said.

The attack stunned many but Mississippi Congressman Benny Thompson, a member and former chair of the homeland security committee, says he was aware that the US was closing in on Bin Laden.

"We are hoping that by killing the head of the snake, it will substantially reduce the terrorist threat in the world. Obviously, we still have to be as vigilant as ever. But obviously Osama Bin Laden was such a symbol of bad in the world," Thompson said.

But Thompson says the killing has also put the U-S on high alert for a potential counter attack.

Diplomatic sites have raised their alert level and the State Department has issued a travel alert for Americans traveling abroad.

The Head of the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security Jay Ledbetter says Washington has cautioned him about a possible retaliation attack but has not issued any specific warnings.

"With Osama Bin laden's death, this provides justification for a lot of radicalized individuals in the United States to Mobilize. Our security posture in state, which includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect our critical infrastructure from any type of evolution threat pictures both in the coming days and beyond," Ledbetter said.

Matthew Hall is a terrorism expert and law professor at the University of Mississippi. Hall says Bin Laden's death is important but thinks he has been fading in power within the terrorist group.

"Al Qaeda has always been a decentralized network. And other aspects of that network have grown up and become more significant or more important than the original Al Qaeda based in Afghanistan," Hall said.

Hall says it is likely that Al Qaeda cells will attempt to accelerate the timeline of attacks they were already planning.

Hall also believes the real effect of this killing won't be known for years, but thinks the tide was already turning against Al Qaeda and Bin Laden.

"There is now a tremendous democratic movement in the Middle East that it seems to me, in terms of its role in the popular imaginations of young Middle Easterners, absolutely eclipses Islamic radicalism and terrorism as the defining social force of the moment," Hall said.

Hall says Bin laden's death still has tremendous symbolic and emotional weight even if it doesn't impact the War on Terrorism in obvious ways.

The biggest change, says Hall, will be behind the scenes allowing the U-S to take the expansive resources it was using to find Bin Laden and eliminate other threats around the world.

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Carol Hicks displays a flag with the names of all the 9/11 victims.


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