Washington (CNN) – Prior to the killing of Osama bin Laden, polls indicate Americans had become increasingly skeptical that the terrorist leader would be captured or killed.
Soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 78 percent of the public thought it was likely that the founder and leader of al Qaeda would be captured or killed, with only 21 percent of the public saying it was unlikely that bin Laden would be captured or killed.
The number who said it was unlikely bin Laden would be captured or killed rose to 67 percent by September of last year, the most recent time the question was asked in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll. At the time, only three in ten said it was likely that bin Laden would be captured or killed.
President Barack Obama announced the news of the killing of bin Laden in an address to the nation late Sunday evening. His death comes almost 10 years after the terrorist attacks that killed about 3,000 people.
But removing bin Laden from the picture may not diminish Americans' concerns over threats from al Qaeda.
"Bin Laden's fate was important to the American public because most saw him as a persistent threat to the U.S." says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2006, three-quarters thought that bin Laden was planning an attack against the U.S. and three in ten thought that attack would succeed. But Americans are unlikely to think that al Qaeda is dead just because bin Laden is out of the picture. In 2005, more than nine in ten said that al Qaeda would remain a threat to the U.S. even if bin Laden were killed or captured, and that's an opinion that has probably not changed much over time."