At long last, over 9 1/2 years after the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon killed nearly 3,000 Ameicans, Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. special forces. HOO-RAH !!! Justice has been served.
Here's President Obama making the announcement last night:
Obama's words are music to my ears. This is great news.
The most surprising thing is that Bin Laden was not hiding in a cave in the tribal regions of Waziristan as was widely believed. No, he was hiding in Pakistan in a tourist town named Abbottabad in a million dollar high-security compound. Abbottabad is the home of the Pakistani Military Academy. Bin Laden wasn't exactly keeping a low profile by living in the largest mansion in the area, which makes me wonder how much help he was getting from the Pakistanis.
ABC News has some details on the special forces operation that got Bin Laden:
Osama Bin Laden was killed not by a drone strike, but up close during a firefight with U.S. troops Sunday. He was not living in a cave when he died, but in a million-dollar mansion with twelve-foot walls less than 100 miles from the Pakistani capital.
The U.S. had been monitoring the compound in Abbottabad for months after receiving a tip in August that Bin Laden might be seeking shelter there. He had long been said to be in the mountainous region along the Afghanistan, Pakistan border, hiding in a cave as the U.S. sought to kill him with drone strikes from above. Instead, he was in a house eight times larger than its neighbors, with walls more than 12 feet tall and valued at $1 million. The house had no phone or television and the residents burned their trash. The house had high windows and few points of access, and U.S. officials concluded it had been built to hide someone.
According to U.S. officials, two U.S. helicopters flew in low from Afghanistan and swept into the compound late Sunday night Pakistan time, or Sunday afternoon Washington time. Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy Seals under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command in cooperation with the CIA stormed the compound and engaged Bin Laden and his men in a firefight, killed Bin Laden and all those with him.
Two Bin Laden couriers were killed, as was one of Osama Bin Laden's sons and a woman reportedly used as a shield by one of the men. Other women and children were present in the compound, according to Pakistani officials, but were not harmed. U.S. officials said that Bin Laden himself fired his weapon during the fight, and that he was asked to surrender but did not.
One of the U.S. helicopters, a CH47 Chinook, was damaged but not destroyed during the operation, and U.S. forces elected to destroy it themselves with explosives. The operation took 40 minutes, much of it spent searching the residence for intelligence.
The Americans took Bin Laden's body into custody after the firefight, taking it back to Afghanistan by helicopter, and confirmed his identity. A U.S. official said he was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic practice.
Congrats to the Navy Seals who carried out this operation, our intelligence and counterterrorism people who confirmed Bin Laden's location, and to Obama for giving the order to pull the trigger. Well done.
Pakistani officials are saying this was a joint operation between America and Pakistan, but only Americans were involved in the raid, and Obama said he called the Pakistani President AFTER the raid to inform him. From what I've read, it sounds like it was America all the way.
The Examiner describes the years of work that went into getting Bin Laden, which started with information provided by Guantanamo Bay detainees:
Sunday afternoon’s raid by U.S. forces that killed Osama bin Laden was the “culmination of years of careful and highly advanced intelligence work,” senior administration officials said in a conference call, describing the genesis of an operation that sounded like it was right out of a “Mission Impossible” movie.
Some time after Sept. 11, detainees held by the U.S. told interrogators about a man believed to work as a courier for bin Laden, senior administration officials said. The man was described by detainees as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and “one of the few Al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin laden.”
Initially, intelligence officials only had the man’s nickname, but they discovered his real name four years ago.
Two years ago, intelligence officials began to identify areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated, and the great security precautions the two men took aroused U.S. suspicions.
Last August, intelligence officials tracked the men to their residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a relatively wealthy town 35 miles north of Islamabad where many retired military officers live.
“When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw,” a senior administration official said.
The compound was eight times larger than any other home in the area. It was surrounded by walls measuring 12 feet to 18 feet that were topped with barbed wire. There were additional inner walls that sectioned off parts of the compound and entry was restricted by two security gates. And the residents burned their trash instead of leaving it outside for pickup. There was a three-story house on the site, with a 7-foot privacy wall on the top floor.
While the two brothers, the couriers, had no known source of income, the compound was built in 2005 and valued at $1 million. That led intelligence officials to conclude that it must have been built to hold a high-value member of Al Qaeda.
Further intelligence gathering found that there was another family who lived on the compound which had a size and makeup that matched the bin Laden members who would have most likely been with Osama.
After exploring every angle for months, they concluded that all signs pointed to this being bin Laden’s residence.
President Obama was made aware of the compound when it was discovered last year. By mid-February, the intelligence was solid and since mid-March, Obama led five meetings with the National Security Council regarding the issue.
Intelligence officials worked with the U.S. military to plan the operation and a small team accepted the risk and began to train for it.
On April 29, this past Friday, Obama gave the final go ahead.
The U.S. team conducted a helicopter raid of the compound Sunday afternoon. It was described as a “surgical raid” that took less than 40 minutes, during which time the team did not encounter any local authorities.
In addition to bin Laden, the team killed three men, believed to be the two couriers as well as Osama’s adult male son. One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by one of the male combatants. All other non-combatants were removed safely.
One of the helicopters was lost in the raid due to mechanical failure, but the team escaped in the other helicopter.
No other country, not even Pakistan, was informed of any of this intelligence until after the raid to protect operational security.
I don't know how much truth there is to this, but a National Journal source tweeted that the Navy Seals built a full-scale mockup of Bin Laden's compound and spent weeks practicing the raid before the actual operation was carried out.
That's all I have for now, but I'm sure there will be much more on this later. This is huge news. In closing, all I can say is, I'm happy that when the time finally came for Bin Laden to be taken out, it was Americans doing the taking.
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