WASHINGTON — President Obama on late Sunday night announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks that triggered the U.S. global war on terror. Obama declared, “Justice has been done.”
“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,” Obama said, announcing that Bin Laden was dead from the White House at 11:35 p.m. est.
A senior Obama administration official, briefing reporters after Obama’s announcement said he was killed in a large home near Islamabad, the Pakistan capital. The home — valued at $1 million — was in highly secured affluent compound, surrounded by walls topped by barbed wire. The residential compound was located by the U.S. last August.
Another official said Bin Laden was killed during a firefight Sunday during what was described as a “surgical raid by a small team” that lasted under 40 minutes. One U.S. helicopter was lost in the raid, which U.S. forces destroyed before they departed.
One of Bin Laden’s sons, two other men described as “couriers” and one woman “used as a shield” by a male were also killed. No U.S. forces were harmed.
The U.S. acted on intelligence provided by captured detainees, the official said. The U.S. did not share any intelligence with other countries, an official said.
After the 9/11 attacks, former President Bush ordered U.S. forces into Afghanistan to find Bin Laden and shut down his Al Qaeda terrorist network. With other al-Qaida plotters killed or in custody — Bin Laden had eluded capture for almost a decade.
Obama said that on Sunday a “small team of Americans” was able to kill Bin Laden after a firefight and “take custody of his body.”
“Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden,” Obama said.
“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 of 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.”
Senior administration officials offered a timeline of the most recent events that led to the killing of Bin Laden on Sunday:
September, 2010: The CIA told Obama it may be possible to find bin Laden.
Mid-February, 2011: The U.S. started to develop strategy.
Mid-March — Mid-April 2011: Obama chaired National Security Council meetings — in all five dealing with the events leading up to the Sunday raid.
Friday, April 29–Obama made the final decision to go forward with the raid at 8:20 a.m. at the White House before he left for Alabama and Florida, with formal orders prepared later that day.
Sunday, May 1 — Top National Security staff works out of the Situation Room; Obama first learns Bin Laden “tentatively identified” at 3:50 p.m. Eastern.
“The death of Bin Laden” marks “the most significant achievement to date,” Obama said, to bring down Al Qaeda.
Obama took care to note that the U.S. was not at war with Muslims.
“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,” Obama said.
Vice President Biden briefed congressional leaders about Bin Laden’s killing, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
“I was advised by Vice President Biden this Sunday evening that Osama bin Laden has been killed. Though this is not the end of the threat of terrorism, it is a clear warning to our enemies that when they threaten and kill Americans, they will be pursued and held accountable. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to our intelligence community and military for pursuing this manhunt for almost ten years and successfully eliminating the most high profile terrorist on earth. Those who believed bin Laden and his network were invincible will now awaken to a new reality,” Durbin said.
The Saudi-born Bin Laden came from a wealthy family and was regarded as not only the mastermind of 9-11, but also of the 1993 New York World Trade Center bombing and the 2000 bombing of the U.S. warship Cole in Yemen.