No threat, but Minnesota law enforcement watches for terrorism
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota is under no specific terrorism threat, but much like immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement officials say they are on heightened alert after the American military's killing of Osama bid Laden.
"I have instructed Minnesota's Commissioner of Public Safety Ramona Dohman to redouble our vigilance in the next weeks to assure Minnesotans are fully protected from any repercussions from this incident," Gov. Mark Dayton said.
Minnesota leaders mixed praise and relief with concern about the possibility of revenge terrorism from bin Laden supporters. He masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks.
They also warned that new attacks on the United Sates are possible.
"We actually know of no specific threats to Minnesota," Dohman said in an interview.
Dohman said that the possibility of revenge terrorism from those who supported bin Laden should convince Minnesotans to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity.
The commissioner encouraged Minnesotans to report anything suspicious to law enforcement officials. On Monday afternoon, she asked law enforcement organizations to drive home the point that people need to keep open communications with authorities.
"The most important message I want to get out is this is an opportunity for all of us in the state of Minnesota to think about what goes on as we go about our daily business," Dohman said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Minnesota officials were especially concerned about high visibility targets such as the Mall of America and the state's two nuclear-power plants.
Dohman said that after an incident such as the bin Laden killing, officers are at heightened alert. "We look at things differently."
U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, a Republican and a military veteran, applauded the American intelligence and military community, but said bin Laden's death does not stop the worry.
"This may not end the threat posed to us by global terrorism, but it is a clear victory for America and freedom loving people throughout the world," Cravaack said.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican with a long military history, warned that a war remains to be fought.
"While the world is now free from one truly evil man, we are still at war with Islamist extremists," Kline said. "We must remain increasingly vigilant, and continue to support our brave sons and daughters in uniform as they courageously battle a determined enemy."
Such warnings were mixed with praise for the killing of bin Laden, recalling the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist operation he ordered.
"This is a gusty operation," said Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, praising Democratic President Barack Obama's decision to send a small group of Navy Seals to Pakistan to eliminate bin Laden.
The Cottage Grove Republican, who lost both legs in an Iraqi war explosion, expressed his option about Obama on Twitter: "I won't listen to people criticizing President Obama today. He showed solid leadership in authorizing this mission. Well done Mr. President."
Kriesel said in an interview that he will not let party politics get in his way of thanking Obama.
"It is about doing the right thing," he said.
Kriesel was popular Monday, as several colleagues asked him how the military carried out the operation. In an interview, he said that he cannot wait to read more details of it himself.
He had a sense that, like on 9-11, Americans set aside differences on Monday. "If only for one day, everyone is together."
While praising American forces, Kriesel wondered how bin Laden could have been living near a Pakistani military base without that country's leaders knowing.
"They have some explaining to do," he said. "I know what's going on on my street."
The Minnesota House took a moment of silence for "thanksgiving and remembrance," as Rep. John Benson, DFL-Minnetonka, said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Monday to the Grand Forks Herald's editorial board that some of her first thoughts on hearing that bin Laden had been killed were for Minnesota families who lost loved ones on 9-11.
"Those families have been waiting for a decade," she said. "Every time they saw bin Laden on TV, mocking America, they felt he was mocking their families."
Klobuchar said the death of Bin Laden also will boost the morale of America's fighting forces. For years, she said, troops have come home from service in Iraq and Afghanistan and heard the question, "Why haven't you caught Bin Laden?"
His death "really means something deep down to these people," she said.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a possible GOP presidential candidate, said the Navy Seals' killing of bin Laden does not end terrorist threats.
"I want to express my deepest gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. military and intelligence community," Bachmann said. "Their persistence and dedicated service has yielded success in a mission that has gripped our nation since the terrible events of 9-11."
Another likely Republican presidential candidate from Minnesota, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, called the bid Laden death "terrific news," and praised Obama "for a job well done."
"This is a great day," proclaimed U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat.
"I think the president was wise to remind us of how unified we felt as a nation after 9-11 and how we can achieve anything we put our mind to if we work together," Franken said.
Military veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz joined in praising the American military.
"Their perseverance, sacrifice and courage is nothing short of remarkable," Walz said. "We have them to thank for this moment of justice."
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, thanked the military.
"I'm grateful to all those men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much to bring more security to our country in these tough times," Peterson said.
Like elsewhere in the country, Minnesota's on-line community was abuzz after Obama's Sunday night announcement.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, turned a Tweet into a plea: "Feel good about bin Laden liquidation? Here's a way to feel better. Be an American. Donate to the USO."
The Grand Forks Herald contributed to this story. Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.