Queens pols, residents support U.S. air strikes

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American fighter jets spent the weekend bombing targets in Afghanistan and Queens residents seemed pleased that the military response to the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack had finally begun Sunday.

People on the street as well as members of the Queens congressional delegation expressed support for the U.S. strikes against the Taliban, Afghanistan’s ruling government that has been sheltering Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Twin Towers assault.

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), the senior member of the Queens congressional delegation, said he was “1,000 percent supportive” of the military effort.

The World Trade Center attack “cannot be allowed to go unanswered,” Ackerman said in an interview Tuesday. “We have to try and rid the world of this absolute evil — people who would kill and murder thousands just to make their point or have their voices heard. The world cannot tolerate this.”

Nearly 5,000 have been missing since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which hijackers commandeered two commercial airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers. The towers eventually collapsed, trapping hundreds of firefighters, police officers and rescue workers in the rubble.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), through a spokeswoman, also voiced support.

“The congressman supports the president and his position,” Candance Sandy said.

“This was not an assault on the Muslim people or Islamic people, but definitely an assault on Osama bin Laden and all who support his efforts,” she said.

The United States believes the terrorist network run by bin Laden, an exiled Saudi national, carried out the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar el Salaam, Tanzania in 1998 and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000.

Ackerman said his constituents have been expressing “overwhelming support” for the military action.

Doris Serrano, 75, a Woodside resident who grew up in Cuba, said, “I agree with them 100 percent — with the president and with the American way. War is war. I am concerned, but what can we do? We have to stop them.”

“They had to do it,” said Juan Larena, 60, a Woodside resident who moved to America from Argentina 30 years ago. “You have to stand for something.”

Larena said he did not approve of killing civilians but supported targeted military action.

“If you go back to what happened after the embassies, and after the Cole, they went with a kind of middle-of-the-road answer and see what happened,” he said “It’s not too easy to have a dialogue with people who are out of their mind.”

Rosedale resident Regineld Wilson, 55, said he was pleased with the American response.

“I thought it was necessary to retaliate because there’s a possibility that they might be back,” he said. “I thought [the Sept. 11 attack] was just the first wave in a series of strikes against the American republic.”

TimesLedger reporters Dustin Brown and Betsy Scheinbart contributed to this story.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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