By Julie Shapiro and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN — Osama bin Laden is dead nearly 10 years after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President Barack Obama announced Sunday night.
The president will visit the World Trade Center site as early as Thursday to mark the death of bin Laden and to honor those that died at the site, Politico.com reported Monday evening.
The president's announcement that bin Laden had been shot to death by U.S. special forces and CIA operatives in a mansion outside of Islamabad, in Pakistan, brought thousands of New Yorkers out to Ground Zero and Times Square to celebrate.
"After 10 years of service, struggle and sacrifice, justice has been done," the president said in a speech televised from the White House.
The bittersweet announcement that the man who orchestrated the plane attacks that killed 2,997 people was dead saw many of the relatives of victims overcome with emotion.
"I'm crying," said Lee Ielpi, whose 29-year-old firefighter son, Jonathan, died in the attacks. "There are no words. It's tears of joy.
"It's taken almost 10 years, but justice did prevail."
Michael Burke, who lost his brother William, an FDNY captain, was stunned.
"It's a shocking thing," he said. "I'm starting to believe it. It's a hell of a thing. It takes you back. It shows the resiliency of America."
Obama said that the dogged, yet quiet pursuit of bin Laden over the past 10 years was spurred by a commitment to those who lost their loved ones on that horrific day.
"We have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to do what it takes to prevent another attack on our shores," he said.
The death of bin Laden came as the city prepared to mark the 10-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack.
"The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory," Obama said. "Hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky. The Twin Towers collapsing to the ground."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement Monday saying they welcomed the announcement of bin Laden's death.
"As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide," the statement read.
On Sunday night, TriBeCa resident and NYPD Sgt. Jerry Sheridan, who responded on 9/11 and lost four close friends, stood in the shadows cast by the lights of the new 1 World Trade Center
"There's some satisfaction," Sheridan, 43, said. "It doesn't change anything, but it puts smiles on everybody's faces for a night."
New Yorkers started getting word of bin Laden's death after 10:30 p.m. Thousands of people learned of bin Laden's death while watching the Mets-Phillies game Sunday night, prompting the crowd to break out into spontaneous chants of USA! USA!
Over the course of the War on Terror, a number of high-profile terrorist targets had been killed.
But bin Laden eluded capture, sneaking over the border into Pakistan, the president said.
"Then, last August, I was briefed on a possible lead on bin Laden," Obama said. "The terrorist leader was apparently hiding in a compound in Pakistan.
"Last week I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action," he said.
Obama said he personally ordered the strike on bin Laden after receiving intelligence that he was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the country's capital.
The compound was at the end of a dirt road and was roughly eight times larger than nearby structures, the New York Times reported. The building had no Internet access or telephone, the paper said.
Bin Laden also put up a fight before being gunned down by U.S. forces, the Times reported.
As of Monday Morning, bin Laden's photo on the FBI's list of the most wanted terrorists included the word "Deceased" on it.
CNN reported that bin Laden had been buried at sea after U.S. forces took custody of his body.
"Tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11," Obama said. "Today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg also applauded the resilience of America. "After September 11, 2001, we gave our word as Americans that we would stop at nothing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden," Bloomberg said. "After the contribution of millions, including so many who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, we have kept that word."
"The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation — and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Politico that bin Laden's death was a "significant step," but added, "I feel satisfaction and some emotional relief, but I don't feel great elation. I watch a lot of the celebrating and it makes me feel a little strange, I don't know. Nothing erases the loss of all those lives."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called bin Laden's death "a welcome milestone for the friends and families of those killed on 9/11, and for all who remain tenaciously engaged in protecting New York from another attack."
Kelly said there were no specific threats against the city, he sent a message to NYPD officers to remain on alert.