At least 99 percent of the time, the front page of the TIMES NEWS is devoted entirely to local news. The local news is what readers expect from us. It's what we're about.

Today though, our top stories have Associated Press datelines. But we consider these stories as local news also, even though the event we're reporting on happened half way around the world.

This is a local story because it affects every man, woman and child in these United States.

On Sunday, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, and whose name is synonymous with global terrorism, was killed by American forces.

God Bless America!

Long believed to be hiding in caves, bin Laden was tracked down in a costly, custom-built hide-out not far from a Pakistani military academy.

"Justice has been done," President Barack Obama said in a dramatic announcement at the White House while a crowd cheered outside and hundreds more gathered at ground zero in Manhattan to celebrate the news.

Many, many American lives, several of them local soldiers or men and women with local ties, have died in Afghanistan, considered the home base of bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.

The Sept. 11 attack destroyed America's World Trade Center. Four commercial passenger jet airliners were forced by suicide hijackers to crash, resulting in the deaths of about 3,000 innocent people and temporarily brought America's financial and airline networks to their knees.

Bin Laden is quoted as saying, "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two."

Unfortunately, bin Laden lived by that creed to the fullest. He is responsible not only for the deaths of innocent Americans, but also for killing hundreds of thousands of helpless civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries via his directives to al-Qaida.

He has eluded American forces since the Sept. 11 attack.

"The al-Qaida leader's death comes at a time when I think everybody had given up," said Army Capt. David McKim. "They thought, 'He's either dead, or we're not going to find him.' But that's how things work in our business you don't know when."

The military operation, which occurred in Pakistan with the blessing of the Pakistani government, took mere minutes, said the U.S. Department of Defense.

U.S. helicopters ferried elite counter-terrorism troops into the compound identified by the CIA as bin Laden's hide-out and back out again in less than 40 minutes.

Bin Laden was shot in the head, officials said, after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault.

Three adult males were also killed in the raid, including one of bin Laden's sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden's sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida. U.S. officials also said one woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant, and two other women were injured.

Using women and children as shields are part of the combat methods usually deployed by al-Qaida.

The death of bin Laden probably won't end the fighting in Afghanistan. It won't stop global terrorism.

But Public Enemy No. 1 to America has been vanquished.

Bin Laden once said, "The dream to kill me will never be completed."

Ha!

Like so many others, he underestimated the ability and determination of America.

To the soldiers who have been pursuing this devil, we can't say "thank you" enough. To all involved in accomplishing this goal, obviously you've won the military Super Bowl.

The TIMES NEWS

tneditor@tnonline.com