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President says Osama bin Laden is dead; killed in U.S. military mission

Monday, May 2, 2011

President Barack Obama reads his statement to photographers after making a televised statement on the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON (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.

This 1998 file photo shows Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, in a meeting at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, according to the source. A person familiar with developments on Sunday, May 1, 2011 says bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has the body.(AP Photo)
The U.S. team took custody of bin Laden's remains. A U.S. official later said bin Laden had been buried at sea and the remains were handled in accordance with Islamic practice, which calls for speedy burial.

The official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters, said it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. The official did not say where the body was buried.

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. 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.

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Good riddance to bad rubbish!

-- Posted by thewonder on Sun, May 1, 2011, at 11:07 PM

Bin Laden would have been dead a LONG time ago if Bush had gone after Bin Laden instead of Hussein. But George W wanted Hussein because Hussein "put a contract out on his daddy". I heard Bush say that with my own ears on one of the cable news networks. I just THANK GOD that justice is finally served, and Bin Laden is burning in he(double hockey sticks)!

-- Posted by Hookie98 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 12:06 AM

Lets be clear about this, Obama didn't kill Osama. Some well trained troops, who most likely joined during the Bush years did. If it were up to Obama, he would have pulled all the troops out of the middle east as he said he wanted to. But his failure to do that has now lead to Osama being killed. The credit goes to the troops, not the president.

-- Posted by TheOneDude on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 12:12 AM

I don't care for many things this president does and wants, but I will concede that is a horrible picture of him.


-- Posted by Tornadic on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 12:36 AM

MKA001, Did you forget, the President is the Commander-in-Chief aka the commander of a nation's military forces? Troops do nothing without a red light from their commanding officiers.

Sounds like you have a dog in this fight. If I'm right, you should be showing more respect for your CnC.

-- Posted by ziggie on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 12:41 AM

I'm sure you meant green light. A red light means stop, or...stop in for a bit.

-- Posted by Tornadic on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 1:45 AM

Tornadic, Yes, thank you for catching that. Do you have an actual opinion on the topic or just commenting on appearances and typos this early morn?

-- Posted by ziggie on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 1:49 AM

No, not military here. But thanks. Let me ask you something, have you ever done anything at work and your boss takes the credit? Same here. The green light has been on for 10 years, I'm guessing Obama wanted to try to talk to Osama first.

-- Posted by TheOneDude on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 5:19 AM

MKA001- guessing is right. are you among those who are in charge of military strategy? how do you know these things? or are you just another mouthy republican? either way... the deed is done and i do agree that it is the men who actually risked their lives who should get the thanks and credit for bravery ...

-- Posted by ojannod on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 5:37 AM

WHOA!! WHOA!! How quickly we forget who is an "oil man" from an "oil family." Need you be reminded it was BIG contributions from big oil who help Bush get elected -- TWICE!! And need you be reminded of the BIG money big oil is making now...virtually TAX FREE because of the Bush tax cuts. Don't be blaming this president for high oil prices. The "barn door" was opened by the 43rd president. Ye of short memory. With that said, this should have happened a long time ago if we would have spent our time and resources going after the guy responsible for 9/11 instead of going after the wrong guy and costing millions of dollars and way too many lives.

-- Posted by s32j20s12 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 7:47 AM

@CosmoKramer901: I tip my hat to you.

-- Posted by semotroll on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 8:53 AM

Am I the only one afraid that he's not really dead? Identified by 'facial recognition', no confirmation if DNA testing was done, then hastily 'buried at sea' with no non-military witnesses at all.....???

-- Posted by MusicMaker on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 8:54 AM

I agree music maker. I hope its as they say but it does look a little fishy.

-- Posted by Ashy on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:01 AM

Are they going to release his death certificate?

-- Posted by docksider21 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:03 AM

You people crack me up,dragging politics into every fricking thing. this matter doesn't even deal with which president did what and when.On 911 do you think everyone looked around at each other and really gave a crap about who was a democrat or republican? We were all Americans that day.I'm sure if your being targeted by terrorist , they wont care if your a democrat, republican , left , or right. it don't matter The fact is WE got the job done.Go comment on politics in another section, it doesn't belong in this story.

-- Posted by tlc2cann on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:21 AM

Ding dong, the witch is dead

-- Posted by oldguy on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:25 AM

Ding dong, the witch is dead

-- Posted by oldguy on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:26 AM

docksider21 - Donald Trump is already working on that :)

-- Posted by Responder1 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:29 AM

So Bin Laden is suddenly killed when Obama's polling numbers are low. I was suspicious last night when the news first came out. This morning, when it was reported that the body was quickly "buried at sea", the first photos released were retracted as fake and the White House stating the body was "handled in accordance with Islamic tradition", I knew this whole thing is B.S.

Don't fall for it, you've been fooled again.

-- Posted by MyThreeCents on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 10:14 AM

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq 60 minutes did a piece on muslims and their support for bin laden.

It was reported that hundreds of children were being named after osama in support of him , so I think there will be no shortage of people wanting to step up to be his replacement................

-- Posted by rockman54 on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 10:17 AM

No one realizes that this is the 66th anniversary of the hitler death announcement? I say pics or it didn't happen!

-- Posted by BananaEater on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 10:31 AM

Now we can finally recognize President Obama as one of the greatest presidents in the history of the US - ended a tough war, began and completed an effort to bring Bin Laden to justice (something his predecessor never could get off the ground), met and started to overcome a near world-wide economic depression, is already addressing paying off the US debt used to bend recovery, is the first president in 40 years (the first, since Richard Nixon began addressing affordable health care access for all) to pass affordable healthcare for all citizens - all done in just over 3 years as our president!

-- Posted by renewableenergy on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 11:29 AM

Thank you Mythreecents!!!

-- Posted by agape on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 11:43 AM

-- Posted by renewableenergy on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 11:29 AM

Seriously? Call him one of the greatest presidents after just 2 years?

Ended a tough war? What ended? And how does that compare to Lincon and the civil war, or Truman and WWII?

Overcame an economic depression? Havn't seen that yet.

HAve yet to see the health plan in action or work.

Way too early to call him one of the greatest.

-- Posted by lumbrgfktr on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 11:48 AM

Stairway: yes, I have an opinion. I am almost a little disappointed he was still alive to begin with. It shows we haven't been able to get him for 10 years. If he had died and we were looking for a ghost, no one could laugh at our incompetence. Now, they all think "it'll take them ten years to find me anyway"

I am actually thrilled that he wasn't brought back alive, though. At least he won't sit in a military prison awaiting trial in the US to grandstand and further poison the airwaves with stupidity. If he respected America, I would defend his right to speech, no matter how offensive.

He hated us, and our ways, so I saw no need to preserve our rights for him.

-- Posted by Tornadic on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 1:02 PM

....and I tip my hat to CosmoKramer901.

-- Posted by bestpractice on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 3:55 PM

The Pied Piper plays and we're expected to just dance along behind him! Give me a break!

After nearly 10 years of searching and always coming up short, do you actually believe they would have taken the body to a carrier, confirmed facial and DNA id, then dumped it before any non-military sources had seen it? I don't think so. From a president with no proof of his history comes a claim of victory with no proof of defeating anyone.

I may have been born at night but, it wasn't last night.

-- Posted by malan on Mon, May 2, 2011, at 9:22 PM

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