The President Reports the Death of Osama Bin Laden
Late in the evening on May 1, when President Obama announced that the United States "conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children/' the achievement of the U.S. armed services as well as thousands of dedicated American civilians became tangible to the American public and to people around the world.
In a raid lasting about 40 minutes, forces from Joint Special Operations Command 0SOC) ended the nearly decadelong hunt and rewarded the tenacity of America's military and intelligence with victory after a dogged piece-by-piece accumulation of clues and data that resulted in actionable intelligence. Bin Laden, for at least the last couple of years, had been ensconced in a compound situated near a Pakistani military academy in the town of Abbottabad in northwest Pakistan.
The al Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 attacks died from two shots, with at least one of them through his head from a U.S. Navy SEAL team. According to officials, the team of SEALs landed at 1:00 a.m., Pakistan time, fanning out to clear the compound and engaging in a firefight from the beginning, eventually killing (besides bin Laden) at least four others including one of bin Laden's sons and at least one other man who had served as a courier, according to reports.
Months of preparation and rehearsals had gone into the operation. Reportedly, it launched from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a primary U.S. and NATO base. The task force crossed the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with the primary entry team flying in two JSOC enhanced special operations Black Hawk helicopters with two special operations Chinook helicopters flying as support and reserve aircraft.
Irte U.S. team suffered no casualties during the operation. Along with taking down bin Laden, the operation confiscated computers, hard drives, flash drives and papers that could prove to be an intelligence trove.
In his address to the nation shortly before midnight, the President saluted "the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals," and praised their efforts and accomplishments. "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."
President Obama continued, "Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. …