TAMPA, Fla. — The killing of an al-Qaeda leader by a US drone strike, is drawing reaction from Tampa Bay residents directly impacted by September 11, 2001.
Jose Sanchez, a retired Sgt. combat veteran, remembers being on Ground Zero like it was yesterday.
“Almost as if I was in some movie. Living in a movie. I couldn’t believe these two buildings that I used to work at, at one time, were completely a pile of smoke,” Sanchez said.
He was deployed with the New York National Guard the day after 9/11 to help with search and recovery. Sanchez would spend four months on assignment on Ground Zero. Being exposed to the toxic air, he developed COPD and bronchitis.
“As time goes on, I've gotten worse, my pulmonary conditions have gotten worse; luckily, I don’t smoke cigarettes,” Sanchez said.
He's relieved to learn that Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man, who helped to coordinate the September 11 terror attacks, was killed by a US drone strike.
The killing took place nearly a year after us troops withdrew from Afghanistan, prompting security concerns over the ability of the U.S. to conduct effective counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.
“Not having boots on the ground doesn’t necessarily mean the fight’s over. It just changes the course of the battle. So I was never under the impression that when we withdrew that the war against Al Qaeda was over,” said Buddy Jericho, Ret. Army Human Intelligence Officer.
Ret. Army Human Intelligence Officer Buddy Jericho was deployed to Afghanistan twice. Jericho said the United States is sending a clear message with this strike.
“One of the things I've always been proud of with the United States government is we’ve risked a lot of resources and a lot of people, a lot of service members, to prove the point that when you attack us on our soil, that we’re going to do everything we can to seek justice,” said Jericho.
He said the fight against al-Qaeda and ISIS is far from over.
“They’ve got a large following. In Southeast Asia, they’re beginning to regroup and build strength there. Syria, they’re obviously building strength again. So, I don’t think these extremist groups are going away anytime soon,” said Jericho.