CNN and other news sources report Osama bin Laden was killed by a “U.S. military asset,” according to a senior U.S. official. Earlier, a senior U.S. official says bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in a mansion outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad along with other family members.
Members of Pakistan’s intelligence service – the ISI – were on site in Abbotabad, Pakistan, during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh reports, citing a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The official said he did not know who fired the shot that actually killed Bin Laden.
Bin Laden was killed after a firefight, and forces took custody of his body, the president said. No Americans were harmed, Obama said.
A little over 9.5 years. Ahead of the ten year anniversary of 9-11.
More detail on where Osama bin Laden was killed: Forces killed him at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after a firefight, U.S. President Barack Obama said.
Cooperation with Pakistan helped lead U.S. forces to Osama bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding, President Barack Obama said.
Obama said he ordered the attack after he decided last week that the United States had actionable intelligence that bin Laden was in the compound.
[Updated, 11:56 p.m. ET] U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world were placed on high alert following the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, a senior U.S. official said. The U.S. State Department should be sending out a new “worldwide caution” for Americans shortly.
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 in a late-night televised address from the White House
11:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. 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.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. 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.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. 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.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, 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.
For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must — and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.
Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.
So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. 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.
Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.
Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
END 11:44 P.M. EDT
The September 11 attacks were a defining moment of Bush’s presidency. He launched the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for bin Laden spanned the rest of his presidency.
“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,” Bush said in a statement.
“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.
How Bin Laden was Found
“From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the U.S. gathered information on people in bin Laden’s circle, including his personal couriers,” a senior official in the Obama administration said in a background briefing from the White House.
After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “detainees gave us information on couriers. One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre, his pseudonym, and also identified this man as one of the few couriers trusted by bin Laden.”
In 2007, the U.S. learned the man’s name.
In 2009, “we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. They were very careful, reinforcing belief we were on the right track.”
In August 2010, “we found their home in Abbatabad,” in an isolated area.
“When we saw the compound, we were shocked by what we saw: an extraordinarily unique compound.”
The plot of land was roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. It was built in 2005 on the outskirts of town, but now some other homes are nearby.
“Physical security is extraordinary: 12 to 16 foot walls, walled areas, restricted access by two security gates.” The residents burn their trash, unlike their neighbors. There are windows facing the road. One part of the compound has its own seven-foot privacy wall.
And unusual for a multi-million-dollar home: It has no telephone or Internet service.
This home, U.S. intelligence analysts concluded, was “custom built to hide someone of significance.”
Besides the two brothers, the U.S. “soon learned that a third family lived there, whose size and makeup of family we believed to match those we believed would be with bin Laden. Our best information was that bin Laden was there with his youngest wife.”
There was no proof, but everything seemed to fit: the security, the background of the couriers, the design of the compound.
“Our analysts looked at this from every angle. No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did,” an official said.
“The bottom line of our collection and analysis was that we had high confidnece that the compound held a high-value terrorist target. There was a strong probability that it was bin Laden.”
This information was shared “with no other country,” an official said. “Only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance.”
“Ths operation was a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimize collateral damage. Our team was on the compound for under 40 minutes and did not encounter any local authorities.”
Bin Laden himself participated in the firefight, the officials suggested.
“He did resist the assault force, and he was killed in a firefight,” an official said.
Four adult males were killed: bin Laden, his son, and the two couriers.
“One woman killed when used as a shield,” and other women were injured, the officials said. The women’s names were not given; it’s not clear whether bin Laden’s wife was among them.
The officials also said they expect attacks from bin Laden’s loyalists who may step up the timing of attacks.
“In the wake of this operation, there may be a heightened threat to the U.S. homeland. The U.S. is taking every possible precaution.” The State Department has sent advisories to embassies worldwide and has issued a travel ban for Pakistan.
“Although al-Qaeda will not fragment immediately,” an official said, “the death of bin Laden puts al-Qaeda on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.