In a brief firefight at the start of the 40-minute operation, United States Armed Forces shot and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottābad, a town 32 miles (51 km) north of Islamabad, at about 01:00 Pakistan time on May 2 (20:00 UTC, May 1); they then seized his body before burying it at sea. The precise location of the compound is 34°10′9″N 73°14′33″E, 2 1⁄2 miles (4 km) northeast of the center of Abbottabad and 3⁄4 of a mile (1.3 km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA). The operation was carried out by members of the U.S. Navy SEAL DEVGRU unit under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command forces in Pakistan working with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
A trail of evidence that originated from al-Qaeda detainees led to the careful monitoring of a compound suspected to be bin Laden’s Pakistani residence. Eventually, U.S. military forces were sent across the border of Afghanistan to launch the attack.
The body was recovered by the U.S. military and kept in its possession. Both ABC News and the Associated Press have reported that the body has been identified by DNA testing, using tissue and blood samples taken from his sister who died of brain cancer. However, Reuters reports that DNA test results will be available in the next few days and that bin Laden’s body was identified using facial recognition techniques.
The death of bin Laden was celebrated in the United States and welcomed by the United Nations, NATO, the European Union and a large number of countries as a positive and significant turning point for global security and the War on Terror.
Locating Osama bin Laden
American intelligence officials discovered the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden by tracking one of his couriers. Information was collected from Guantánamo Bay detainees, who gave intelligence officers the courier’s pseudonym and said that he was a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In 2007, U.S. officials discovered the courier’s real name and, in 2009, that he lived in Abbottābad, Pakistan. Using satellite photos and intelligence reports, the CIA surmised the inhabitants of the mansion. In September, the CIA concluded that the compound was “custom built to hide someone of significance” and that bin Laden’s residence there was very likely. Officials surmised that he was living there with his youngest wife.
Built in 2005, the million-dollar three-story mansion was located 2 1⁄2 miles (4 km) northeast of the city center. Larger than nearby houses, it was surrounded by 12- to 18-foot (3.7-5.5 m) concrete walls topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates and the third-floor balcony had a seven-foot-high (2.1 m) privacy wall. There was no Internet or telephone service coming in the compound. Its residents burned their trash, unlike their neighbors, who simply set it out for collection. The compound was located at 34°10′09″N 73°14′33″E, about three-quarters of a mile (1.3 km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA).
President Obama met with his security advisors on March 14, 2011, in the first of five security meetings over six weeks. On April 29, at 8:20 a.m., Obama convened with Thomas Donilon, John O. Brennan, and other security advisers in the Diplomatic Room, where he authorized a raid of the Abbottābad compound. The government of Pakistan was not informed of this decision.
CIA director Leon Panetta issued a thank you memo that also credited the National Security Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for contributing to the intelligence-gathering that made the raid possible. Per the National Journal, “NSA figured out, somehow, that there was no telephone or Internet service in the compound.”
Military logistics | Osama bin Laden’s hideout
The raid was carried out jointly by 20 to 25 helicopter-borne DEVGRU United States Navy SEALs under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command in cooperation with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Additional personnel on the mission included “tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers.”
The SEALs stormed the compound at approximately 1 a.m. local time (20:00, May 1 UTC) and engaged bin Laden’s men in a firefight. Bin Laden hid behind a woman during the firefight. The raid lasted about 40 minutes, most of which was spent scrubbing the compound for information. A U.S. national security official told the Reuters news agency that “‘This was a kill operation,’…making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.” The raid was scheduled for a time with little moon luminosity so the helicopters could enter Pakistan “low to the ground and undetected”.
The SEALs flew into Pakistan from Afghanistan and were transported to the compound in modified MH-60 helicopters that took off from Ghazi Airbase. The helicopters were provided by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. One of the helicopters that the SEALs used to breach the mansion walls suffered a mechanical breakdown and could not fly the team out. It was consequently blown up to prevent classified equipment from falling into enemy hands. The SEAL team choppers were supported by multiple other aircraft, including fixed-wing fighter jets and drones. Per CNN, “The Air Force also had a full team of combat search-and-rescue helicopters including MH-53 Pave Low and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.” The team that conducted the raid landed back in Afghanistan at around 5:45 p.m ET (9:45 UTC).
During the month leading up to the raid, SEALs trained on a one-acre replica of Osama’s compound, practicing rappelling down into from helicopters among other tactical approaches.  The replica was built at Camp Alpha, “a segregated section of Bagram Air Base.”
The helicopter raid by SEALs was chosen from a variety of attack plans, including one that would have used two B-2s to drop 2,000-pound (900-kg) bombs on the compound.
Osama bin Laden was shot in the head. The National Journal reported that he was “done in by a double tap—boom, boom—to the left side of his face.” Three other men present at the compound were also reportedly killed in the operation, including an adult son of bin Laden, the courier, and his brother. Also killed was a woman who was used as a human shield by bin Laden. Two other women were injured. Approximately 22 people in total were either killed or captured at the compound.
According to Obama administration officials, U.S. officials did not share information about the raid with the government of Pakistan before the operation but did notify Pakistan after its successful completion. According to the Pakistani foreign ministry, the operation was conducted entirely by the U.S. forces, however, Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials stated that they were also present at what they called a joint operation.
However, according to ABC News, “at the end of the operation, Pakistan’s military scrambled fighter jets looking for the U.S. helicopters.”
Local accounts of raid
Details of the raid, observed from a distance, were tweeted by a resident of Abbottābad, who did not know what was happening. Karachi’s Geo News described a helicopter crash and “heavy firing” on the evening of May 1 “near the PMA Kakul Road”.
Burial at sea
According to a U.S. official on May 2, bin Laden’s body was handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition and was buried at sea less than a day after his death. This took place aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group One, operating in the northern Arabian Sea.
However, burial at sea is not a preferred form of burial under Islamic tradition, and some Islamic clerics criticized the decision.
The advantage to the United States of a burial at sea is that the burial site is not readily identified or accessed, thus preventing a burial site from becoming a “terrorist shrine”. The Guardian has questioned whether bin Laden’s grave would have been a shrine, a concept rejected by Wahhabism. It also quotes a U.S. official explaining the difficulty of finding a country that would accept the burial of bin Laden in its soil.
United States Presidential address
Late in the evening of May 1, 2011, major American news organizations were informed that the president would give an important speech on an undisclosed subject related to national security. Rumors initially spread wildly about the subject, until it was revealed that Obama was to announce the death of Osama bin Laden. At 11:35 p.m. EDT (May 2, 2011, 3:35 UTC), President Barack Obama confirmed this and said that bin Laden had been killed by “a small team of Americans”. He explained how the killing of bin Laden was achieved after following up on a lead from August 2010, what his role was in the series of events, and what the death of bin Laden meant on a symbolic and practical level.
“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound, in Abbottābad, 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.” —President Barack Obama, May 1, 2011
Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (Arabic: أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن, ʾUsāmah bin Muḥammad bin ʿAwaḍ bin Lādin; March 10, 1957 – May 2, 2011) was the founder of the jihadist organization al-Qaeda, responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets. He was also a member of the wealthy Saudi bin Laden family.
Bin Laden was on the American Federal Bureau of Investigation’s lists of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists for his involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings. Since 2001, bin Laden and his organization had been major targets of the War on Terror.
On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan in an operation conducted by United States Navy SEALs and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Variations of Osama bin Laden’s name
There is no universally accepted standard for transliterating Arabic words and Arabic names into English; bin Laden’s name was most frequently rendered “Osama bin Laden.” The FBI and CIA, as well as other US Governmental agencies, have used either “Usama bin Laden” or “Usama bin Ladin”, both of which may be abbreviated as “UBL”. Less common renderings include “Ussamah Bin Ladin” and “Oussama Ben Laden” in the French-language media. Other spellings include “Binladen” or, as used by his family in the West, “Binladin”. The spellings with “o” and “e” come from a Persian-influenced pronunciation also used in Afghanistan, where bin Laden spent many years.
Arabic linguistic conventions would be to refer to him as “Osama” or “Osama bin Laden”, not “bin Laden” alone, as “Bin Laden” is a patronymic, not a surname in the Western manner. In its expanded form it means “Osama, son of Mohammed, son of ‘Awad, son of Laden”.
Osama bin Laden’s admirers have referred to him by several aliases and nicknames, including the Prince/Al-Amir, the Sheikh, Abu Abdallah, Sheikh Al-Mujahid, the Lion Sheik, the Director.
Childhood, education and personal life
Osama bin Laden was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the son of Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, a wealthy businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family, and Mohammed bin Laden’s tenth wife, Hamida al-Attas. In a 1998 interview, he gave his birth date as March 10, 1957.
Osama’s parents divorced soon after he was born; Osama’s mother then married Mohammed al-Attas. The couple had four children, and Osama lived in the new household with three half-brothers and one half-sister.
Osama was raised as a devout Wahhabi Muslim. From 1968 to 1976 he attended the “élite” secular Al-Thager Model School. Osama studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University. Some reports suggest Osama earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. Other sources describe him as “hard working,” but having left university during his third year without completing a college degree. At university, Osama’s main interest was religion, where he was involved in both “interpreting the Quran and jihad” and charitable work. He also wrote poetry.
In 1974, at the age of 17, Osama married Najwa Ghanem at Latakia. According to CNN national security correspondent David Ensore, as of 2002 Osama had married four women and fathered roughly 25 or 26 children. Other sources report that he has fathered anywhere from 12 to 24 children.
Mohammed bin Laden was killed in 1967 in an airplane crash in Saudi Arabia when his American pilot misjudged a landing. Osama’s eldest half-brother, Salem bin Laden, the subsequent head of the bin Laden family, was killed in 1988 near San Antonio, Texas in the United States, when he accidentally flew a plane into powerlines.
The FBI described Osama bin Laden as tall and thin, between 6’4″ and 6’6″ (193– 198 cm) in height and weighing about 165 pounds (75 kg). Interviewees of Lawrence Wright, on the other hand, describe him as quite slender, but not particularly tall. He had an olive complexion and was left-handed, usually walking with a cane. He wore a plain white turban and no longer donned the traditional Saudi male headdress. In terms of personality, bin Laden was described as a soft-spoken, mild mannered man.
Read More About Osama Bin Laden on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia