Obama: U.S. killed bin Laden

This undated photo shows al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The al-Qaida mastermind is dead and the U.S. has his body, multiple sources say.

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 Sunday 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 late-night 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 neither Americans nor civilians were harmed in the operation.

Three adult males were also killed in Sunday's 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.

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."

Fort Gordon to heighten security
Obit: Bin Laden took a path of fanaticism and terror
President's remarks on the death of bin Laden
Officials report bin Laden killed near Islamabad
U-S-A chants fill the air in D.C.
World reacts to news of bin Laden's death
Reaction from the sports world

PHILADELPHIA - Fans at the Mets-Phillies game began chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" as the news of Osama bin Laden's death spread through Citizens Bank Park on Sunday night.

People could be spotted all over the ballpark checking their phones as news that the United States had killed the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks was breaking.

The "U-S-A!" chants started in the top of the ninth inning of the game and picked up in intensity throughout the inning.

 

Bush reacts to news of bin Laden's death

DALLAS -Former President George W. Bush says he has congratulated President Barack Obama after hearing about the death of Osama bin Laden.

In a statement Sunday night, Bush said Obama called that U.S. forces had killed bin Laden. Bush said he also congratulated the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to the mission.

Bush said, "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."

He also said the U.S. "has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done. "

Leader: Bin Laden death to help US-Muslim ties

LOS ANGELES - A prominent Muslim leader says he expects the death of Osama Bin Laden to usher in a new, positive era of U.S.-Muslim relations, helping Americans to distinguish extremist terrorists from the mainstream Islamic faith.

Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, told The Associated Press on Sunday night that the death of the "standard-bearer of terrorism" is "hopefully the end of an era of darkness" in U.S-Muslim relations.

Al-Marayati says some fundamentalist groups may try to seek retaliation for Bin Laden's killing, but he's confident that Bin Laden's demise marks the beginning of the end of terrorism at a time when democracy is spreading throughout the Middle East.

NY mayor says US kept promise to kill bin Laden

NEW YORK - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Americans have kept their promise after Sept. 11 to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

President Barack Obama announced Sunday night bin Laden was killed in an operation led by the United States.

Bloomberg says the killing of the terrorist leader doesn't lessen the suffering Americans experienced at his hands the day the World Trade Center was destroyed but is a "critically important victory" for the nation. He says it's a tribute to the men and women in the armed forces who've fought so hard.

The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is just months away.

Bloomberg says in a statement he hopes news of bin Laden's demise will "bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones" that day.

 

McCain 'overjoyed' that US got bin Laden

PHOENIX - U.S. Sen. John McCain is commending President Barack Obama, armed service members and intelligence officials for the U.S-led operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

The president announced late Sunday that a small team of Americans killed bin Laden in a firefight at a compound in Pakistan. The al-Qaida leader's death comes after a nearly decade-long manhunt and just months before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, orchestrated by al-Qaida.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a statement that he was "overjoyed that we finally got the world's top terrorist."

The Arizona senator added that al-Qaeda remains a dangerous enemy but that the "the world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it."

 

NYPD boss: Bin Laden's death a 'welcome milestone'

NEW YORK - The New York Police Department is welcoming news about the death of terror leader Osama bin Laden.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says bin Laden's killing in a U.S. mission in Pakistan is a "welcome milestone" for the friends and families of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and for those "who remain tenaciously engaged in protecting New York from another attack."

Kelly on Sunday night issued a message to all police commands reminding them that while there's no information indicating a specific threat to the nation's biggest city officers should remain alert following President Barack Obama's announcement of bin Laden's death.

More than 20 NYPD officers were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

 

 

More

Savannah River Site resumes normal activity

A suspicious item was discovered Wednesday afternoon at the Savannah River National Laboratory which prompted emergency responseactivities.

... Read more