Osama bin Laden
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has his body, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
The terror mastermind of al-Qaida repsonsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America was shot in the head by U.S. forces in a mansion outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
President Obama made the announcement in a national address late Sunday night from the White House, calling bin Laden a
terrorist responsible for the murder of thousands of American
men, women and children.
“Last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible to lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain and it took many months to run this thread to the ground.
“Last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden, and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.
“After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body,” said Obama. “Justice has been done.”
DNA testing confirmed that it was bin Laden, sources told ABC News.
His body is “being handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition,” one senior administration official said. He is expected to be buried at sea.
The government has not said whether a photo of bin Laden will be released to the media as proof of his death.
Officials long believed the 54-year-old bin Laden, the most wanted man in the
world, was hiding a mountainous region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan
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 $1 million 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, reports the Associated Press.
When the decision was made to move on it, U.S. helicopters ferried troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counter-terrorism unit, into the compound. Bin Laden was shot in the head, officials said, after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault.
In addition to bin Laden, one of his sons, two couriers and a woman died
as she was used as a human shield when the soldiers stormed the house.
Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that he had personally been informed by Obama of the death of the terrorist leader whose attacks forever defined his eight years in office.
“This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people
who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones
on September 11, 2001,” the former president said.
“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an
unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be
A crowd gathered outside the White House to celebrate, chanting, “USA! USA!” as word spread of bin Laden’s death nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks which started a tireless hunt for the terror kingpin.
“This is a night for America to come together,” said Andrew Card, former
chief of staff for Bush. “Bad things are still likely to happen around
the world. … Stay on your toes, but celebrate tonight.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Obama’s opponent in the 2008 election,
said he was “overjoyed that we finally got the world’s top terrorist.”
“The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden
is no longer in it,” McCain said in a statement. “I hope the families of
the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and
every night hence knowing that justice has been done.”
The U.S. State Dept. has issued a global travel alert for all U.S. citizens due to an “enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counterterrorism activity in Pakistan.” It said Americans living or traveling abroad, particularly in areas that have been hit by anti-American violence in the past should limit travel outside their homes and avoid large gatherings.
“I think it will have an impact on al-Qaida,” said Steven Hadley, former national security adviser for President George W. Bush. “It is still a threat. We have to remain vigilant. They will try to retaliate.”
Police in New York, site of the deadliest attack on Sept. 11, have
begun to “ramp up” security amid concerns that reprisal attacks from
al-Qaida and other Islamist extremist groups could soon follow.
“This is important news for us, and for the world,” said Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, the airliner that crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers fought with hijackers. “It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil,” he told the N.Y. Times.
The 2001 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, the
Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93
War on America (book)