ABBOTTABAN, PAKISTAN: US SPECIAL FORCES ACTING ON THE SECRET ORDERS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE KILLED OSAMA BIN LADEN

2 May

NEWS UPDATE:

President Barack Obama has announced that the mastermind of the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people has been killed in Pakistan by U.S.-led forces.

The following is the text of Mr Obama’s statement to America:

Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory. Hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky.

The Twin Towers collapsing to the ground. Black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon. The wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table.

Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.

Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11th, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other and our love of community and country.

On that day, no matter where we came from, what god we prayed to or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family. We were also united in our resolve, to protect our nation and to — to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.

We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda, an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda, to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.

In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet, Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda. Even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat his network.

Then last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain. And it took many months to run this thread to ground.

I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside Pakistan.

And finally, 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 Abad Abad, 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.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies.

The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

And his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. I’ve made clear just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11 that our war is not against Islam. Bin laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries including our own.

So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done.

But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war.

These efforts weigh on me every time I, as commander in chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are.

And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror, justice has been done.

Tonight we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work nor know their names, but tonight they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete, but tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history. Whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people or the struggle for equality for all our citizens, our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

 
An image made from Geo TV video shows flames at what is thought to be the compound where terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday, May 1, 2
AP – An image made from Geo TV video shows flames at what is thought to be the compound where terror mastermind …

Reaction to Bin Laden's death Play Video Pakistan Video:Reaction to Bin Laden’s death Reuters

Small Crowd Gathers At Capitol After News Of Bin Laden’s Death Play Video Pakistan Video:Small Crowd Gathers At Capitol After News Of Bin Laden’s Death CBS 13 / CW 31

Osama bin Laden (AP)  
 
By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Nahal Toosi, Associated Press ;
 
ABBOTTABADOsama bin Laden was holed up in a two-story house 100 yards from a Pakistani military academy when four helicopters carrying U.S. forces swooped early Monday, killing the world’s most wanted man and leaving his final hiding place in flames, Pakistani officials and a witness said.

They said bin Laden’s guards opened fire from the roof of the compound in the small northwestern town of Abbottabad, and one of the choppers crashed. However U.S. officials said no Americans were hurt in the operation. The sound of at least two explosions rocked Abbottabad as the fighting raged.

Abbottabad is home to three Pakistan army regiments and thousands of military personnel and is dotted with military buildings. The discovery that bin Laden’s was living in an army town in Pakistan raises pointed questions about how he managed to evade capture and even whether Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership knew of his whereabouts and sheltered him.

Critics have long accused elements of Pakistan’s security establishment of protecting bin Laden, though Islamabad has always denied this. Army and government officials gave no formal comment Monday.

Most intelligence assessments believed bin Laden was holed up somewhere along the lawless border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, possibly in a cave and sheltered by loyal tribesmen. That region is remote, homes to soaring mountains and the Pakistan state has little or no presence in much of it.

It was not known how long bin Laden had been in Abbottabad, which is surrounded by hills and is less than half a days drive from the border region with Afghanistan and two hours from the capital, Islamabad.

It was also unclear how much of a role — if any — Pakistani security forces played in the operation. A Pakistani official said the choppers took off from Ghazi air base in northwest Pakistan, where the U.S. army was based to help out in the aftermath of the floods in 2010.

Pakistani officials said a son of bin Laden and three other people were killed.

Other unidentified males were taken by helicopter away from the scene, while four children and two woman left in an ambulance, the official said.

Abbottabad resident Mohammad Haroon Rasheed said the raid happened about 1:15 a.m. local time.

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

He said the house was 100 meters (yards) away from the gate of the Kakul Military Academy, an army run institution where top officers train. A Pakistan intelligence official said the property where bin Laden was staying was 3,000 square feet.

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

Last summer, the U.S. army was based in Ghazi to help out in the aftermath of the floods.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Pakistan has in the past cooperated with the CIA in arresting al-Qaida suspects on its soil, but relations between its main intelligence agency and the CIA had been very strained in recent months amid tensions over the future of Afghanistan.

In late January, a senior Indonesian al-Qaida operative, Umar Patek, was arrested at another location in Abbottabad.

News of his arrest only broke in late March. A Pakistani intelligence official said its officers were led to the house where Patek was staying after they arrested an al-Qaida facilitator, Faisal Shahzad, who worked at the post office there.

NEWS UPDATE:

Raw Video: Fire at poss. bin Laden raid compound

Play Video AP  – Raw Video: Fire at poss. bin Laden raid compound

Osama bin Laden Slideshow:Osama bin Laden

Raw Video: Crowds cheer outside White House Play Video Video:Raw Video: Crowds cheer outside White House AP

Obama: Pakistan aided US in bin Laden operation Play Video Video:Obama: Pakistan aided US in bin Laden operation AP

Barack Obama
AP – President Barack Obama reads his statement to photographers after making a televised statement on the …

 

 
By JULIE PACE and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Julie Pace And Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press :

 

WASHINGTON – 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.

NEWS UPDATE:

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press :

WASHINGTON – Helicopters descended out of darkness on the most important counterterrorism mission in U.S. history. It was an operation so secret, only a select few U.S. officials knew what was about to happen.

The location was a fortified compound in the affluent Pakistani suburbs of Islamabad. The target was Osama bin Laden.

Intelligence officials discovered the compound in August while monitoring an al-Qaida courier. The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since detainees told interrogators that the courier was so trusted by bin Laden that he might very well be living with the al-Qaida leader.

Nestled in an affluent neighborhood, the compound was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet, topped with barbed wire. Two security gates guarded the only way in. A third-floor terrace was shielded by a seven-foot privacy wall. No phone lines or Internet cables ran to the property. The residents burned their garbage rather than put it out for collection. Intelligence officials believed the million-dollar compound was built five years ago to protect a major terrorist figure. The question was, who?

The CIA asked itself again and again who might be living behind those walls. Each time, they concluded it was almost certainly bin Laden.

President Barack Obama described the operation in broad strokes Sunday night. Details were provided in interviews with counterterrorism and intelligence authorities, senior administration officials and other U.S. officials. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation.

By mid-February, intelligence from multiple sources was clear enough that Obama wanted to “pursue an aggressive course of action,” a senior administration official said. Over the next two and a half months, Obama led five meetings of the National Security Council focused solely on whether bin Laden was in that compound and, if so, how to get him, the official said.

Normally, the U.S. shares its counterterrorism intelligence widely with trusted allies in Britain, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. And the U.S. normally does not carry out ground operations inside Pakistan without collaboration with Pakistani intelligence. But this mission was too important and too secretive.

On April 29, Obama approved an operation to kill bin Laden. It was a mission that required surgical accuracy, even more precision than could be delivered by the government’s sophisticated Predator drones. To execute it, Obama tapped a small contingent of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six and put them under the command of CIA Director Leon Panetta, whose analysts monitored the compound from afar.

Panetta was directly in charge of the team, a U.S. official said, and his conference room was transformed into a command center.

Details of exactly how the raid unfolded remain murky. But the al-Qaida courier, his brother and one of bin Laden’s sons were killed. No Americans were injured. Senior administration officials will only say that bin Laden “resisted.” And then the man behind the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil died from an American bullet to his head.

It was mid-afternoon in Virginia when Panetta and his team received word that bin Laden was dead. Cheers and applause broke out across the conference room.

___

Associated Press writers Kimberly Dozier, Adam Goldman and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report; Kathy Gannon contributed from Islamabad.

NEWS UPDATE:

BIN LADEN

AP – FILE – In this 1998 file photo, Osama bin Laden speaks to the journalists in Khost, Afghanistan and made …

 

 
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press :

 

WASHINGTON – A U.S. official says Osama bin Laden has been buried at sea.

After bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan, senior administration officials said the body would be handled according to Islamic practice and tradition. That practice calls for the body to be buried within 24 hours, the official said. Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted terrorist would have been difficult, the official said. So the U.S. decided to bury him at sea.

The official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters, did not immediately say where that occurred.

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