Obama in NYC - Reuters - May 5, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses firefighters at the Engine 54 Ladder 4 New York Fire Department firehouse in New York on May 5, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, United States President Barack Obama visited Ground Zero to offer comfort to a city still scarred by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama first visited the Engine 54 firehouse in Midtown Manhattan, which lost 15 members in the attacks, before heading to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan to lay a wreath and meet with victims' families.

"I wanted to just come up here to thank you", he said while shaking hands. "This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago."

"Obviously we can't bring back your friends that were lost, and I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family, their children, trying to give them comfort, trying to give them support," Obama said.

He said the killing of bin Laden, "sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home, that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say."

"It didn't matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act -- that they received justice," Obama said.

Bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was shot in the head by U.S. forces who stormed his compound in Pakistan on Monday after a decade-long manhunt.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when al-Qaida hijackers crashed commercial planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field.

Briefing reporters on Air Force One, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama's visit recognized the terrible loss sustained by the city on 9/11 and would allow, "New Yorkers and Americans everywhere to achieve a sense of closure."

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows urged Obama to now close the U.S. military prison housing foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and bring home American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"May the wreath you lay today, at the grave site of our loved ones, be more than a symbolic gesture," the group said in a statement. "Accomplish a new mission by bringing our troops home now ... (and) by closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay."

Most Americans believe the threat of extremist attacks against the United States was likely to increase following the death of the al-Qaeia leader, several recent polls have found.

The killing of bin Laden coincided with the first anniversary of a failed attempt to bomb New York's Times Square, one of at least 11 plots against the city that have been disrupted in the past decade.

Several recent polls showed Obama's job approval rating had been boosted after bin Laden's death although such bounces are often short lived, especially in the face of a difficult economy for many Americans.

Obama's popularity had been hurt by economic woes and high gasoline prices. Voters are expected to focus again on domestic concerns crucial to his 2012 re-election prospects.