Fahim Chowdury and his father Sharif are Muslims – and also victims of 9/11.
Their sister and daughter Shakila and her husband Nurul Miah both worked in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Osama bin Laden’s death has been welcome news.
“I honestly hate him because he's the one killed my innocent sister and my brother in law,” Chowdhury said.
In 2005, bits of bones and ashes from Ground Zero were matched to Shakila and Nurel. Iman Mohamed Magid flew to New York to preside over the couple’s funeral.
“For anyone to question why bin Laden was brought to justice or why life ended the way it did, they need to remember those same people,” said Magid, of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.
In Dearborn, Michigan, where at least one-third of the population can trace its roots to the Middle East, about 20 men of Arab descent gathered very early Monday at a spontaneous rally outside the city hall, the Associated Press reports. They waved American flags, chanted "U-S-A!, U-S-A!" and whooped joyously at passing vehicles.
"This is a special day for us, to show Americans we are celebrating, we are united," said Ahmed Albedairy, 35, of Dearborn, who came to the U.S. from Iraq in 1996. "We celebrate because of the death of the evil Osama bin Laden killed by U.S. forces."
U.S. Muslims who felt the double sting of personal sadness and public suspicion after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks greeted the news of Osama bin Laden's death with a sense of relief Monday as well as jubilation.
His death comes at a time when the Muslim community has been under considerable scrutiny and pressure, with congressional hearings in March on the radicalization of American Muslims, controversy surrounding ongoing plans to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site and allegations that about 20 young men have traveled from the Minneapolis area to Somalia in recent years to join a terror group that the U.S. says is tied to al-Qaida.
While divisions always exist in communities as large and diverse as Muslims or Arabs, many said Monday they hoped the news of bin Laden's death would pave the way for the kind of unity in their community and with other Americans rarely seen since the 9/11 attacks and subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Many Muslims stressed that bin Laden wasn't a true follower of their faith, and Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, said he hoped the community's response to his death would help "disassociate him from Islam."
The Chowdury’s agree. Their basement has become a memorial, with Shakila’s photos, Wakefield High School diploma and jewelry still displayed. To them, bin Laden was nothing more than a terrorist.
“He's not a Muslim. He's never been a Muslim leader,” said Sharif Chowdury. “Our religion did not allow anybody to kill innocent people.”
With reporting from the Associated Press