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Osama bin Laden found, killed by U.S. forces

By JULIE PACE and MATT APUZZO
May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden (AP)

Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan early Monday in a firefight with U.S. forces, ending a manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade.

“Justice has been done,” President Barack Obama said in a dramatic announcement at the White House.

A jubilant crowd of thousands gathered outside the White House as word spread of bin Laden’s death. Hundreds more sang and waved American flags at Ground Zero in New York — where the twin towers that once stood as symbols of American economic power were brought down by bin Laden’s hijackers 10 years ago.

Another hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon on that cloudless day, and a fourth was commandeered by passengers who forced it to the ground — at cost of their own lives — before it could reach its intended target in Washington.

The United States attacked Afghanistan within months, pursuing al-Qaida, and an invasion of Iraq followed as part of the Bush administration’s global war on terror.

U.S. officials said the CIA tracked bin Laden to his location, then elite troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counter-terrorism unit, flew to the hideout in four helicopters. Bin Laden was shot in the head in an ensuing firefight, these officials said, adding that he and his guards had resisted his attackers. U.S. personnel identified him by facial recognition, the official said, declining to say whether DNA analysis had also been used.

The U.S. team took custody of bin Laden’s remains, which American officials said were being handled in accordance with Islamic tradition. Obama said no Americans were harmed in the operation.

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.

The operation occurred in pre-dawn darkness on Monday in Pakistan — Sunday afternoon in Washington. Obama went on television late Sunday night to make the announcement.

Bin Laden’s death marks a psychological triumph in a long struggle that began with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and seems certain to give Obama a political lift. But its ultimate impact on al-Qaida is less clear.

The greatest terrorist threat to the U.S. is now considered to be the al-Qaida franchise in Yemen, far from al-Qaida’s core in Pakistan. The Yemen branch almost took down a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas 2009 and nearly detonated explosives aboard two U.S. cargo planes last fall. Those operations were carried out without any direct involvement from bin Laden.

Obama provided few details of the operation beyond to say that he had personally ordered it be carried out. Other officials said it was so secretive that no foreign officials were informed in advance, and only a small circle inside the administration was aware of what was unfolding half a world away.

But within hours of the announcement, Pakistani officials and a witness said bin Laden’s guards had opened fire from the roof of the building, and one of the choppers crashed. The sound of at least two explosions rocked the small northwestern town of Abbottabad, where the al-Qaida chief made his last stand.

Flames were visible after the attack on the building, which was located about 100 yards from the gates of a Pakistani military academy — certain to raise questions about al-Qaida’s ability to build a custom-made hideout in such close proximity.

Abbottabad, surrounded by hills and with mountains in the distance, is less than half a day’s drive from the border region with Afghanistan, where most intelligence assessments believed bin Laden was holed up.

The White House said Obama convened at least nine meetings with top national security officials in the lead-up to Sunday’s raid.

The president spent part of the day on the golf course, but cut his round short to return to the White House for a meeting where he and top national security aides reviewed final preparations for the raid.

Two hours later, Obama was told that bin Laden had been tentatively identified.

CIA director Leon Panetta was directly in charge of the military team during the operation, according to one official, and when he and his aides received word at agency headquarters that bin Laden had been killed, cheers broke out around the conference room table.

Halfway around the world, in Abbotabad, one witness described a military raid carried out under darkness.

“I heard a thundering sound, followed by heavy firing. Then firing suddenly stopped. Then more thundering, then a big blast,” said Mohammad Haroon Rasheed. “In the morning when we went out to see what happened, some helicopter wreckage was lying in an open field.”

A Pakistani official in the town said fighters on the roof opened fire on the choppers with rocket-propelled grenades. Another official said the four helicopters took off from the Ghazi air base in northwest Pakistan.

The U.S. and Pakistani officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Obama said he gave the order for the operation after receiving intelligence information that he did not further describe.

Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, issued a written statement hailing bin Laden’s death as a momentous achievement. “The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” he said.

Senior administration officials said the terrorist mastermind was found inside a custom-built compound with two security gates. They said it appeared to have been constructed to harbor one high-value target and that for undisclosed reasons, officials believed the hideout was bin Laden’s.

The stunning end to the world’s most widely-watched manhunt came just months before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, orchestrated by al-Qaida, that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The attacks a decade ago seemed to come out of nowhere, even though al-Qaida had previously struck American targets overseas.

The terrorists hijacked planes, flew one of them into one of Manhattan’s Twin Towers — and, moments later, into the other one. Both buildings collapsed, trapping thousands inside and also claiming the lives of firefighters and others who had rushed to help them.

A third plane slammed into the Pentagon, defacing the symbol of America’s military night. Officials have speculated that the fourth plane had been heading for the U.S. Capitol or perhaps even the White House when it crashed in Pennsylvania.

Based on statements given by U.S. detainees, intelligence officials have known for years that bin Laden trusted one al-Qaida courier in particular, and they believed he might be living with him in hiding. In November, intelligence officials found out where he was living, a huge fortified compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad. It was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet high, topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates and no phone or Internet running into the house.

Intelligence officials believed the $1 million home was custom-built to harbor a major terrorist. CIA experts analyzed whether it could be anyone else, but time and again, they decided it was almost certainly bin Laden.

Obama spoke with Bush and former President Bill Clinton Sunday night to inform them of the developments.

The president struck a less than boastful tone in his brief announcement, although he said the death of bin Laden was “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida.

“His death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant,” he added.

Moments after Obama spoke, the State Department put U.S. embassies on alert and warned of the heightened possibility for anti-American violence. In a worldwide travel alert, the department said there was an “enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counterterrorism activity in Pakistan.”

____

Associated Press writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

25 Responses to Osama bin Laden found, killed by U.S. forces

  1. Bill Cravener

    May 2, 2011 at 4:09 am

    I’m glad he’s dead and it only cost the American taxpayer just over a trillion dollars to get him. I understand that his DNA was matched to his sisters DNA.

    http://costofwar.com/en/

    • Doc_Holiday

      May 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      It seems pretty much on par with the millions of dollars it cost to hunt down Pablo Escobar in the “War on Drugs”.

      • b mcclellan

        May 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm

        I got your back Doc….

        • Doc_Holiday

          May 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm

          Weapons outboard brother!

  2. Wayne K Dolik

    May 2, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Bullshit!

    • woody188

      May 2, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      Shenanigans! :smile:

  3. logtroll

    May 2, 2011 at 8:53 am

    His DNA was matched to bullshit? How interesting!

    (I won’t believe it until I see the long form birth certificate and Donald’s net worth disclosure…)

  4. Sandune

    May 2, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I am delighted that the sonofabitch is dead! A group of Navy Seals pulled off the bravest action we can even imagine. I look forward to the many books that will be written describing the action of the assault.

    I heard this morning that the whole plan was done without Congress knowing and that is how the plans were kept secret. We must do a better job electing men and women of integrity in our house and senate.

    ..

  5. bmclellan

    May 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

    The Boogieman is dead but this snake has more than one head.
    How long before they invent a new one to send oil prices skyrocketing again ?

    How can the death of one man be the cause of today’s rebounding stock markets worldwide ?
    Should anyone else feel safer physically or financially ?
    Osama was / is nothing but bait, now more than ever as he sleeps with the fishes.

  6. Sandune

    May 2, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Our safety here in America is challenged by our actions yesterday. Col. Jacobs was on Morning Joe this morning and was giving some hope that we could handle the good with the bad. If America takes a strike or two, are we prepared to survive it?

    Bryan, we are not stupid people and they cannot kill all of us. Will any one of us be prepared to lead our neighborhood if needed? Maybe the next generation of American kids can grow up without Snookie.

  7. bmclellan

    May 2, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I don’t see how this can provide any warmth or comfort other than that the wool has been pulled further over our eyes Sandra…
    What the heck is a snookie, is it like a wedgie ?

    • Almandine

      May 2, 2011 at 11:59 am

      Oh, ye with little culture…

      • b mcclellan

        May 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

        I wish I’d never looked Al..
        Brain wedgie if ever I saw one.
        Culture I don’t need if that’s the definition..

  8. Eve

    May 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    One question for everyone to ponder and ask other in their daily conversations, emails and visits to other chat rooms ……… “Now will they abolish the Patriot Act, the DHS and the TSA?”

    Or is the lie going to be obvious to everyone who has an IQ in which the number happens to be larger than room temp?

    So, start asking when they are rolling back the Patriot Act, the MCA etc…

    • woody188

      May 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      You know as well as I do they will never abolish these unconstitutional laws. We will have to force them to abolish them.

  9. Sandune

    May 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Eve, a lot depends on whether the GOP takes over the Congress and the White House, The plans from the right are to declare a war on sins including the abortion, stem cell issues and gays in the military. The Patriot act will be used to enforce this new agenda. It was very clear when Bush 43 was running in 2000 that America would be declared a nation based on God. I have no problem with this and hope that all the religious right would simply stop sinning.

  10. Keith

    May 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I’m surprised Donald Trump hasn’t now taken credit for this “Service performed for the American people”.

    After all, wasn’t it The Donald who said that, “Our leaders are stupid, they are stupid people.”?

  11. erika morgan

    May 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I fear they have made a Moslem messiah and we will rue this day!

  12. Lillibet

    May 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Osama Bin dead since 2001.

    From one of about 45 sources in December of that year, the following.

    from here to the end of my post is the quote from Fox News. I figured I would use the most popular news source of the then Administration.
    [quote]

    Report: Bin Laden Already Dead

    Wednesday, December 26, 2001

    Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader.

    “The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead,” the source said.

    Bin Laden, according to the source, was suffering from a serious lung complication and succumbed to the disease in mid-December, in the vicinity of the Tora Bora mountains. The source claimed that bin Laden was laid to rest honorably in his last abode and his grave was made as per his Wahabi belief.

    About 30 close associates of bin Laden in Al Qaeda, including his most trusted and personal bodyguards, his family members and some “Taliban friends,” attended the funeral rites. A volley of bullets was also fired to pay final tribute to the “great leader.”

    The Taliban source who claims to have seen bin Laden’s face before burial said “he looked pale … but calm, relaxed and confident.”[end quote]

    • woody188

      May 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      The a–holes buried the body at sea. The world will never know the truth.

      • b mcclellan

        May 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

        Headlong into the wormhole of publicity oh my,
        fair minded people fling their morality, an eye for an eye.

        Such valuable things left gone awry,
        successful the hunt for pie in the sky..

        Juiced with the spirit of justice they cry,
        those who oppose, shall die, die, die.
        All tenants religious, we are told were applied.
        A man of the sand buried over the side.

        Smells like fish to me too Woody…

        • woody188

          May 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm

          This is akin to destroying the torture videos. Why destroy your evidence if it’s any good?

          Nope, just trust us. We’re your government. Believe or else!

          Something big is in the pipeline. Be worried.

  13. b mcclellan

    May 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    What could be any more embarrassing than ten years after the fact , we got im ?
    The sitting President acting like a bad ass, that’s what..
    Sans the Constitution to boot.!

    This will deaden the resolve to end the wars which is the end game of this exercise and will ramp up support to go after with renewed zeal those pesky haters of faux corporate democracy we are told we so fervently support. Sans the Constitution.

    Next weeks news cycle will have all the appropriate reasons why we continue to send our young into harms way, our prosperity to other shores, and why it’s good to be an American usurper.

    cause dem don’t quite tink like we duz…Hork….

  14. Al

    May 3, 2011 at 5:16 am

    It is my fond hope that the tremendous amount of info found with bin Laden and developed during the search for him will now be put to good use, killing thousands of radicals of Islam.

    Yeah, I know. “Good luck on that.” But I can hope, can’t I?

    Al

  15. bogofree

    May 3, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Congrads to the SEALS for a job well done. Eventually you will pay for horrific crimes against humanity. How many different nationalities were impacted on 9/11? Good riddance to a thug.