Death of Osama bin Laden

Death of Osama bin Laden

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Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, then head of the Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 militant group al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

, was killed in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time
Pakistan Standard Time
Pakistan Time is the time zone for Pakistan. It is 5 hours ahead of GMT/UTC .The only tz database zone is Asia/Karachi.-History:The current Pakistan time was set up at midnight between 29 September and 30 1951...

 by a United States special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 military unit.
The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and carried out in a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) operation by a team of United States Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

 from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

 (also known as DEVGRU or informally by its former name, SEAL Team Six) of the Joint Special Operations Command, with support from CIA operatives on the ground. The raid on bin Laden's compound
Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad
Osama bin Laden's compound, known locally as the Waziristan Haveli , is the safe house in which Osama bin Laden was hiding when he was killed. The structure is located at the end of a dirt road in Abbottabad, Pakistan. About 35 Miles north of the capital, Islamibad, and just 0.8 miles southwest of...

 in Abbottabad
Abbottabad
Abbottabad is a city located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in Pakistan. The city is situated in the Orash Valley, northeast of the capital Islamabad and east of Peshawar at an altitude of and is the capital of the Abbottabad District...

, Pakistan was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid, U.S. forces took bin Laden's body to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death.

Al-Qaeda confirmed the death on May 6 with posts made on militant websites, vowing to avenge the killing. Other Pakistani militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan , alternatively referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, is an umbrella organization of various Islamist militant groups based in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Pakistan. Most, but not all, Pakistani Taliban groups coalesce under the TTP...

 also vowed retaliation, both against the US, and against Pakistan for not preventing the operation. Bin Laden's killing was generally favorably received by U.S. public opinion; was welcomed by the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, and a large number of governments; but was condemned by some, including Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 of Cuba and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 administration of the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. Legal and ethical aspects of the killing, such as his not being taken alive despite being unarmed, were questioned by others, including Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

.

Locating bin Laden


The U.S. intelligence community effort to determine the current location of Osama bin Laden, which eventually resulted in the Abbottabad operation, began with a fragment of information unearthed in 2002, resulting in years of consequent investigation, followed by intensive multiplatform surveillance on the compound beginning in September 2010.

Identity of his courier


Identification of al-Qaeda couriers was an early priority for interrogators at CIA black site
Black site
In military terminology, a black site is a location at which an unacknowledged black project is conducted. Recently, the term has gained notoriety in describing secret prisons operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency , generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction. It...

s and Guantanamo Bay detention camp, because bin Laden was believed to communicate through such couriers while concealing his whereabouts from al-Qaeda foot soldiers and top commanders. Bin Laden was known not to use phones, as the U.S. launched missile strikes against his bases in Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 (Operation Infinite Reach) after tracking an associate's satellite phone.

By 2002, interrogators had heard uncorroborated claims about an al-Qaeda courier with the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Sheikh Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti , also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad, was a Kuwait-born Pakistani al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden. According to secret documents, al-Kuwaiti was one of the few men Osama bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his...

 (sometimes referred to as Sheikh
Sheikh
Not to be confused with sikhSheikh — also spelled Sheik or Shaikh, or transliterated as Shaykh — is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor"...

 Abu Ahmed from Kuwait). In 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged operational chief of al-Qaeda, revealed under interrogation that he was acquainted with al-Kuwaiti but that he was not active in al-Qaeda.

In 2004, a prisoner named Hassan Ghul
Hassan Ghul
Allegedly an al-Qaeda agent, Hassan Ghul has also been identified as a member of Ansar al-Islam. His nationality has been reported as Yemeni, Pakistani or Egyptian....

 told interrogators that al-Kuwaiti was close to bin Laden as well as Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Mohammed's successor Abu Faraj al-Libi. Ghul further revealed that al-Kuwaiti had not been seen in some time, which led U.S. officials to suspect he was traveling with bin Laden. When confronted with Ghul's account, Khalid Sheik Mohammed maintained his original story. Abu Faraj al-Libi was captured in 2005 and transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006. He told CIA interrogators that bin Laden's courier was a man named Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti. Because both Mohammed and al-Libi had minimized al-Kuwaiti's importance, officials speculated that he was part of bin Laden's inner circle.

In 2007, officials learned al-Kuwaiti's real name, though they will not disclose the name nor how they learned it. Since the name Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan appears in the JTF-GTMO detainee assessment for Abu Faraj al-Libi released by WikiLeaks
Wikileaks
WikiLeaks is an international self-described not-for-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under The Sunshine Press organisation, claimed a database of more...

 on April 24, 2011, there was speculation that the U.S. assault on the Abbottabad compound was expedited as a precaution. The CIA never found anyone named Maulawi Jan and concluded that the name was an invention of al-Libi .

A 2010 wiretap of another suspect picked up a conversation with al-Kuwaiti. CIA paramilitary operatives located al-Kuwaiti in August 2010 and followed him back to bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. The courier and a relative (who was either a brother or a cousin) were killed in the May 2, 2011 raid. Afterward, some locals identified the men as Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 named Arshad and Tareq Khan. Arshad Khan was carrying an old, noncomputerized Pakistani identification card
Identity document
An identity document is any document which may be used to verify aspects of a person's personal identity. If issued in the form of a small, mostly standard-sized card, it is usually called an identity card...

 which said he was from Khat Kuruna, a village near Charsadda
Charsadda
Charsadda is a town and headquarters of Charsadda District, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is located at 34°8'43N 71°43'51E with an altitude of 276 metres and lies 29 kilometres from the provincial capital - Peshawar....

 in northwestern Pakistan. Pakistani officials have found no record of an Arshad Khan in that area and suspect the men were living under false identities.

In June 2011, Pakistani officials revealed the courier's name as Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed from Pakistan's Swat Valley. He and his brother Abrar and their families were living at bin Laden's compound.

Bin Laden's compound


The CIA used surveillance photos and intelligence reports to determine the identities of the inhabitants of the Abbottabad compound to which the courier was traveling. In September 2010, the CIA concluded that the compound was custom-built to hide someone of significance, very likely bin Laden. Officials surmised that he was living there with his youngest wife.

Built in 2004, the three-story compound was located at the end of a narrow dirt road. Google Earth
Google Earth
Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program that was originally called EarthViewer 3D, and was created by Keyhole, Inc, a Central Intelligence Agency funded company acquired by Google in 2004 . It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite...

 maps made from satellite photographs show that the compound was not present in 2001 but did exist on images taken in 2005. It is located 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of the city center of Abbottabad. Abbottabad is about 100 miles (160.9 km) from the Afghanistan border on the far eastern side of Pakistan (about 20 miles (32.2 km) from India). The compound is 0.8 miles (1.3 km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy
Pakistan Military Academy
The Pakistan Military Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service military academy. It is located at Kakul near Abbottabad in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan....

 (PMA), a prominent military academy that has been compared with West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 in the United States and Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

 in Britain. Located on a plot of land eight times larger than those of nearby houses, it was surrounded by a 12-to-18-foot (3.7–5.5 m) concrete wall topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates, and the third-floor balcony had a seven-foot-high (2.1 m) privacy wall, tall enough to hide the 6 in 4 in (193.04 cm) bin Laden.

There was no Internet or landline telephone service to the compound, and its residents burned their trash, unlike their neighbors who set their garbage out for collection. Local residents called the building the Waziristan Haveli
Haveli
Haveli is the term used for a private mansion in India and Pakistan. The word haveli is derived from the Persian word hawli, meaning "an enclosed place"...

, because they believed the owner was from Waziristan
Waziristan
Waziristan is a mountainous region near the Northwest of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11,585 km² . The area is entirely populated by ethnic Pashtuns . The language spoken in the valley is Pashto/Pakhto...

.

Intelligence gathering



The CIA led the effort to surveil and gather intelligence on the compound; other critical roles in the operation were played by other American government agencies, including the National Security Agency
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S...

, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security. NGA was formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency ...

 (NGA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and US Defense Department
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

. According to The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, "The [intelligence-gathering] effort was so extensive and costly that the CIA went to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in December [2010] to secure authority to reallocate tens of millions of dollars within assorted agency budgets to fund it, U.S. officials said."

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency rented a home in Abbottabad from which a team staked out and observed the compound over a number of months. The CIA team used informants and other techniques to gather intelligence on the compound. The safe house was abandoned immediately after bin Laden's death. The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security. NGA was formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency ...

 helped the Joint Special Operations Command create mission simulators for the pilots and analyzed data from an RQ-170 drone before, during and after the raid on the compound. The NGA created three-dimensional renderings of the house, created schedules describing residential traffic patterns, and assessed the number, height and gender of the residents of the compound.

The design of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad
Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad
Osama bin Laden's compound, known locally as the Waziristan Haveli , is the safe house in which Osama bin Laden was hiding when he was killed. The structure is located at the end of a dirt road in Abbottabad, Pakistan. About 35 Miles north of the capital, Islamibad, and just 0.8 miles southwest of...

 may have ultimately contributed to his discovery. A former CIA official involved in the manhunt
Manhunt (military)
Manhunting is the deliberate identification, capturing, or killing of senior or otherwise important enemy combatants, classified as high-value targets, usually by special operations forces and intelligence organizations...

 told The Washington Post, "The place was three stories high, and you could watch it from a variety of angles."

The CIA used a process called "red team
Red Team
A red team is a group of penetration testers that assess the security of an organization, which is often unaware of the existence of the team or the exact assignment. Red teams provide a more realistic picture of the security readiness than exercises, role playing, or announced assessments...

ing" on the collected intelligence to independently review the circumstantial evidence and available facts of their case that bin Laden was living at the Abbottabad compound. An administration official stated, "We conducted red-team exercises and other forms of alternative analysis to check our work. No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did." This duplicate analysis was necessary because "Despite what officials described as an extraordinarily concentrated collection effort leading up to the operation, no U.S. spy agency was ever able to capture a photograph of bin Laden at the compound before the raid or a recording of the voice of the mysterious male figure whose family occupied the structure's top two floors."

Operation Neptune Spear



The official mission code name
Code name
A code name or cryptonym is a word or name used clandestinely to refer to another name or word. Code names are often used for military purposes, or in espionage...

 was Operation Neptune Spear. Neptune's
Neptune (mythology)
Neptune was the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology and religion. He is analogous with, but not identical to, the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over one of the three realms of the universe,...

 spear is the trident
Trident
A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

, which appears on Navy Special Warfare insignia, with the three prongs of the trident representing the operational capacity of SEALs on sea, air and land.

Objective


The Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 cited two U.S. officials as stating the operation was "a kill-or-capture mission, since the U.S. doesn't kill unarmed people trying to surrender", but that "it was clear from the beginning that whoever was behind those walls had no intention of surrendering". White House counterterrorism advisor John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan is chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama; officially his title is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President...

 stated after the raid: "If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn't present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that." CIA Director Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta
Leon Edward Panetta is the 23rd and current United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama since 2011. Prior to taking office, he served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 stated on PBS NewsHour: "The authority here was to kill bin Laden...Obviously under the rules of engagement
Rules of engagement
Rules of Engagement refers to those responses that are permitted in the employment of military personnel during operations or in the course of their duties. These rules of engagement are determined by the legal framework within which these duties are being carried out...

, if he in fact had thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn't appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But, they had full authority to kill him."

However, a U.S. national security official, who was not named, told Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

 that "'this was a kill operation', making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan". Another source referencing a kill (rather than capture) order states, "Officials described the reaction of the special operators when they were told a number of weeks ago that they had been chosen to train for the mission. 'They were told, "We think we found Osama bin Laden, and your job is to kill him",' an official recalled. The SEALs started to cheer."

Planning


The CIA briefed Vice Admiral
Vice admiral (United States)
In the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, and the United States Maritime Service, vice admiral is a three-star flag officer, with the pay grade of...

 William H. McRaven
William H. McRaven
William Harry McRaven is a United States Navyfour-star admiral who currently serves as ninth Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command. He previously served...

, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), about the compound in January 2011. McRaven said a commando raid would be fairly straightforward but he was concerned about the Pakistani response. He assigned a captain from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) to work with a CIA team at their campus in Langley, Virginia
Langley, Virginia
Langley is an unincorporated community in the census-designated place of McLean in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.The community was essentially absorbed into McLean many years ago, although there is still a Langley High School...

. The captain, named "Brian", set up an office in the printing plant in the CIA's Langley compound and, with six other JSOC officers, began to plan the raid.

In addition to a helicopter raid, planners considered attacking the compound with B-2 Spirit stealth bombers. They considered a joint operation with Pakistani forces. Obama, however, decided that the Pakistani government and military could not be trusted to maintain operational security for the operation against bin Laden. "There was a real lack of confidence that the Pakistanis could keep this secret for more than a nanosecond," a senior adviser to the President told The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

.

President Obama met with the National Security Council
National Security Council
A National Security Council is usually an executive branch governmental body responsible for coordinating policy on national security issues and advising chief executives on matters related to national security...

 on March 14 to review the options. The president was concerned that the mission would be exposed and wanted to proceed quickly. For that reason he ruled out involving the Pakistanis. Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

 and other military officials expressed doubts as to whether bin Laden was actually in the compound, and whether a commando raid was worth the risk. At the end of the meeting the president seemed to be leaning toward a bombing mission. Two US Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 officers were tasked with exploring that option further.

The CIA was unable to rule out the existence of an underground bunker
Bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

 below the compound. Presuming that one existed, 32 2000 pounds (907.2 kg) Joint Direct Attack Munitions would be required to destroy it. With that amount of ordnance
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

, at least one other house was in the blast radius
Blast radius
A blast radius is the distance from the source that will be affected when an explosion occurs. A blast radius is often associated with, but not limited to, bombs, mines, explosive projectiles , and other weapons with an explosive charge....

. Estimates were that up to a dozen civilians would be killed in addition to those in the compound. Furthermore it was unlikely there would be enough evidence remaining to prove that bin Laden was dead. Presented with this information at the next Security Council meeting on March 29, President Obama put the bombing plan on hold. Instead he directed Admiral McRaven to develop the idea of a helicopter raid.

McRaven assembled a team drawing from Red Squadron, one of four that make up DEVGRU. Red Squadron was coming home from Afghanistan and could be redirected without attracting attention. The team had language skills and experience with cross-border operations into Pakistan. Without being told the exact nature of their mission, the team performed two rehearsals in the U.S. on April 10 in North Carolina and April 18 in Nevada.

Planners believed the SEALs could get to Abbottabad and back without being challenged by the Pakistani military. The helicopters to be used in the raid had been designed to be quiet and to have low radar visibility. Since the U.S. had helped equip and train the Pakistanis, their defensive capabilities were known. Furthermore the U.S. had supplied F-16 Fighting Falcons to Pakistan on the condition they were kept at a Pakistani military base under 24-hour U.S. surveillance. The U.S. would know immediately if the Pakistanis scrambled their jets.

If bin Laden surrendered he would be held near Bagram Air Base
Bagram Air Base
Bagram Airfield, also referred to as Bagram Air Base, is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan. The base is run by a US Army division headed by a major general. A large part of the base,...

. If the SEALs were discovered by the Pakistanis in the middle of the raid, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen would call Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, NI, HI is a four-star general in the Pakistan Army, and the current Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army. He replaced General Pervez Musharraf as the Chief of Army Staff and the commandant of the army on November 29, 2007...

 and try to negotiate their release.

When the Security Council met again on April 19, President Obama gave provisional approval for the helicopter raid. But he worried that the plan for dealing with the Pakistanis was too uncertain. Obama asked Adm. McRaven to equip the team to fight its way out if necessary.

McRaven and the SEALs left for Afghanistan to practice at a one acre full-scale replica of the compound built on a restricted area of Bagram known as Camp Alpha. The team departed the U.S. from Naval Air Station Oceana
Naval Air Station Oceana
Naval Air Station Oceana or NAS Oceana is a military airport located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a United States Navy Master Jet Base. It is also known as Apollo Soucek Field, named after Lieutenant Apollo Soucek, a Navy Test Pilot who set the global altitude record in 1930 by flying a...

 on April 26 in a C-17 aircraft, refueled on the ground at Ramstein Air Base
Ramstein Air Base
Ramstein Air Base is a United States Air Force base in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. It serves as headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe and is also a North Atlantic Treaty Organization installation...

 in Germany, landed at Bagram Air Base
Bagram Air Base
Bagram Airfield, also referred to as Bagram Air Base, is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan. The base is run by a US Army division headed by a major general. A large part of the base,...

, then moved to Jalalabad on April 27.

On April 28 Admiral Mullen explained the final plan to the Security Council. To bolster the "fight your way out" scenario, Chinook helicopters with additional troops would be positioned nearby. Obama said he wanted to speak directly to Admiral McRaven before he gave the order to proceed. The president asked if McRaven had learned anything since arriving in Afghanistan that caused him to lose confidence in the mission. McRaven told him the team was ready and that the next few nights would have little moonlight over Abbottabad, good conditions for a raid.

On April 29 at 8:20 a.m., Obama conferred with his advisers and gave the final go-ahead. The raid would take place the following day. That evening the president was informed that the operation would be delayed one day due to cloudy weather. On April 30 Obama called McRaven one more time to wish the SEALs well and to thank them for their service.

On May 1 at 1:22 p.m., Panetta, acting on the president's orders, directed McRaven to move forward with the operation. Shortly after 3 p.m., the president joined national security officials in the Situation Room
White House Situation Room
The White House Situation Room is a conference room and intelligence management center in the basement of the West Wing of the White House. It is run by the National Security Council staff for the use of the President of the United States and his advisors to monitor and deal...

 to monitor the raid. They watched night-vision images taken from a drone while Panetta, appearing in a corner of the screen from CIA headquarters, narrated what was happening. Video links with Panetta at CIA headquarters and McRaven in Afghanistan were set up in situation room. In an adjoining office was the live drone feed presented on a laptop computer operated by Brigadier General Marshall Webb, assistant commander of JSOC. Two other command centers monitored the raid from the Pentagon and the American embassy in Islamabad.

Approach and entry



The raid was carried out by approximately two dozen heliborne United States Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

 from the Red Squadron of the Joint Special Operations Command's United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

 (DEVGRU). For legal reasons (namely that the U.S. was not at war
Declaration of war by the United States
A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another. For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says "Congress shall have power to ... declare War"...

 with Pakistan), the military personnel assigned to the mission were temporarily transferred to the control of the civilian Central Intelligence Agency. The DEVGRU SEALs operated in two teams and were reportedly equipped with Heckler & Koch 416 carbine military assault rifles (with attached suppressor
Suppressor
A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer, is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm which reduces the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon....

s), night-vision goggles
Night vision
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

, body armor
Personal armor
Personal armor is the whole of protecting clothing, designed to absorb and/or deflect slashing, bludgeoning, and penetrating attacks. They were historically used to protect soldiers, whereas today, they are also used to protect police forces, private citizens and private security guards or...

 and handgun
Handgun
A handgun is a firearm designed to be held and operated by one hand. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns ....

s.

According to The New York Times, a total of "79 commandos and a dog" were involved in the raid. The military working dog
Dogs in warfare
Dogs in warfare have a long history starting in ancient times. From 'war dogs' trained in combat to their use as scouts, sentries and trackers, their uses have been varied and some continue to exist in modern military usage.-History:...

 was a Belgian Malinois
Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is a breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog rather than as a separate breed. The Malinois is recognized in the United States under the name Belgian Malinois...

 named Cairo. According to one report, the dog was tasked with tracking "anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces". The dog was to be used to help deter any Pakistani ground response to the raid and to help look for any hidden rooms or hidden doors in the compound. Additional personnel on the mission included a language translator, the dog handler, helicopter pilots, "tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified
Classified information
Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular groups of persons. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation...

 hyperspectral imagers
Hyperspectral imaging
Hyperspectral imaging collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. Much as the human eye sees visible light in three bands , spectral imaging divides the spectrum into many more bands...

".

The SEALs flew into Pakistan from a staging base in the city of Jalalabad
Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

 in eastern Afghanistan after originating at Bagram Air Base
Bagram Air Base
Bagram Airfield, also referred to as Bagram Air Base, is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan. The base is run by a US Army division headed by a major general. A large part of the base,...

 in northeastern Afghanistan. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR)
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment is a special operations unit of the United States Army that provides helicopter aviation support for general purpose forces and Special Operations Forces. Its missions have included attack, assault, and reconnaissance, and are usually conducted at...

, an airborne US Army Special Operations Command
United States Army Special Operations Command
The United States Army Special Operations Command is the command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Forces...

 unit known as the "Night Stalkers", provided the two modified Black Hawk
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System competition in 1972...

 helicopters that were used for the raid itself, as well as the much larger Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that were employed as backups.

The Black Hawks appear to have been never-before-publicly-seen "stealth" versions of the helicopter that fly more quietly while being harder to detect on radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 than conventional models; due to the weight of the extra stealth equipment on the Black Hawks, cargo was "calculated to the ounce, with the weather factored in."

The Chinooks kept on standby were on the ground "in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way" between Jalalabad and Abbottabad, with two additional SEAL teams consisting of approximately 24 DEVGRU operators and Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army's Ranger School...

 for a backup "quick reaction force" (QRF)
Quick reaction force
Quick Reaction Force or is a military unit, generally platoon-sized in the United States Marine Corps, that is capable of rapid response to developing situations. They are to have equipment ready, to respond to any type of emergency, typically within ten minutes or less, although this is based on...

. The Chinooks were equipped with M134 Miniguns
Minigun
The Minigun is a 7.62 mm, multi-barrel heavy machine gun with a high rate of fire , employing Gatling-style rotating barrels with an external power source...

 and extra fuel for the Black Hawks. Their mission was to interdict any Pakistani military attempts to interfere with the raid. Other Chinooks, holding 25 more SEALs from DEVGRU, were stationed just across the border in Afghanistan in case reinforcements were needed during the raid.

The 160th SOAR helicopters were supported by multiple other aircraft, including fixed-wing fighter jets and drones
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

. According to CNN, "the Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 had a full team of combat search-and-rescue helicopters available".

The raid was scheduled for a time with little moonlight so the helicopters could enter Pakistan "low to the ground and undetected". The helicopters used hilly terrain and nap-of-the-earth
Nap-of-the-earth
Nap-of-the-earth is a type of very low-altitude flight course used by military aircraft to avoid enemy detection and attack in a high-threat environment....

 techniques to reach the compound without appearing on radar and alerting the Pakistani military. The flight from Jalalabad to Abbottabad took about 90 minutes.

According to the mission plan, the first helicopter would hover over the compound's yard while its full team of SEALs fast-roped to the ground. At the same time, the second helicopter would fly to the northeast corner of the compound and deploy the translator, the dog, and four SEALs to secure the perimeter. The second helicopter would then hover over the house and the team leader and six SEALs would fast-rope onto the roof. The team in the courtyard was to enter the house from the ground floor.

As they hovered above the target, however, the first helicopter experienced a hazardous airflow condition known as a vortex ring state. This was aggravated by higher than expected air temperature ("a so-called 'hot and high' environment") and the high compound walls, which stopped the rotor downwash from diffusing. The helicopter's tail grazed one of the compound's walls, damaging its tail rotor
Tail rotor
The tail rotor, or anti-torque rotor, is a smaller rotor mounted so that it rotates vertically or near-vertically at the end of the tail of a traditional single-rotor helicopter. The tail rotor's position and distance from the center of gravity allow it to develop thrust in the same direction as...

, and the helicopter rolled onto its side. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose to keep it from tipping over. None of the SEALs, crew and pilots on the helicopter were seriously injured in the soft crash landing, which ended with it pitched at a forty-five-degree angle resting against the wall. The other helicopter then landed outside the compound and the SEALs scaled the walls to get inside. The SEALs advanced into the house, breaching walls and doors with explosives.

Killing



The SEALs encountered the residents in the compound's guest house, in the main building on the first floor where two adult males lived, and on the second and third floors where bin Laden lived with his family. The second and third floors were the last section of the compound to be cleared. There were reportedly "small knots of children...on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden's room".

In addition to Osama bin Laden, three other men and a woman were killed in the operation. The individuals killed were bin Laden's adult son (likely Khalid, possibly Hamza
Hamza bin Laden
Hamza bin Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden better known as Hamza bin Laden or "Hamza Laden", is a son of Osama bin Laden, and a senior member of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan...

), bin Laden's courier (Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Sheikh Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti , also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad, was a Kuwait-born Pakistani al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden. According to secret documents, al-Kuwaiti was one of the few men Osama bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his...

), al-Kuwaiti's brother Abrar, and Abrar's unarmed wife Bushra.

Al-Kuwaiti opened fire on the first team of SEALs with an AK-47 from behind the guesthouse door, and a firefight took place between him and the SEALs, in which al-Kuwaiti was killed. The courier's male relative Abrar was shot and killed, before he could reach a weapon found lying nearby, by the SEALs' second team on the first floor of the main house. A woman near him, later identified as the Abrar's wife Bushra was also shot and killed. Bin Laden's young adult son rushed towards the SEALs on the staircase of the main house, and was shot and killed by the second team. An unnamed U.S. senior defense official stated that only one of the five people killed was armed.

The SEALs encountered bin Laden on the second or third floor of the main building. Bin Laden was "wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a kurta paijama
Kurta
A kurta is a traditional item of clothing worn in Afghanistan, Pakistan , Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women...

", which were later found to have €500
500 euro note
The five hundred euro note is the highest value euro banknote and has been used since the introduction of the euro in 2002....

 and two phone numbers sewn into the fabric.

Bin Laden peered over the third floor ledge at the Americans advancing up the stairs, and then retreated into his room as a SEAL fired a shot at him, but missed. The SEALs quickly followed him into his room.

Inside the bedroom, two of bin Laden's wives stood in front of him, shielding him. One of them, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, screamed at the SEALs in Arabic and motioned as if she were about to charge. One of the SEALs shot her in the leg, then grabbed both women and shoved them aside. A second SEAL entered the room and shot bin Laden in the chest, and then in the head. The SEAL radioed, "For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo," and then, "Geronimo E.K.I.A." (enemy killed in action.) Watching the operation in the White House Situation Room, President Obama said, "We got him."

There were two weapons near bin Laden in his room, including an AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

 assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

 and a Russian-made semi-automatic Makarov pistol, but according to his wife Amal, he was shot before he could reach his AK-47. According to the Associated Press the guns were on a shelf next to the door and the SEALs did not see them until they were photographing the body.

Bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter Safia was struck in her foot or ankle by a piece of flying debris.

As the SEALs encountered women and children during the raid, they restrained them with plastic handcuffs or zip ties. After the raid was over, U.S. forces moved the surviving residents outside "for Pakistani forces to discover". The interpreter questioned the women and children, none of whom confirmed that bin Laden was present. The injured Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah continued to harrangue the raiders in Arabic.

While bin Laden's body was taken by U.S. forces, the bodies of the four others killed in the raid were left behind at the compound and later taken into Pakistani custody.

Wrap-up



The raid was intended to take 30 minutes. All told, the time between the team's entry in and exit from the compound was 38 minutes. According to the Associated Press, the military offensive
Offensive (military)
An offensive is a military operation that seeks through aggressive projection of armed force to occupy territory, gain an objective or achieve some larger strategic, operational or tactical goal...

 aspect of the raid was completed in the first 15 minutes.

Time in the compound was spent killing defenders; "moving carefully through the compound, room to room, floor to floor" securing the women and children; clearing "weapons stashes and barricades", including a false door; and searching the compound for information. U.S. personnel recovered three AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

s and two pistols, computer hard drives, documents, DVDs, thumb drives, and "electronic equipment" for later analysis.

Since the helicopter that had made the emergency landing was damaged and unable to fly the team out, it was destroyed to safeguard its classified equipment, including an apparent stealth
Stealth technology
Stealth technology also termed LO technology is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures, which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, and missiles, to make them less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection...

 capability. The pilot smashed "the instrument panel, the radio, and the other classified fixtures inside the cockpit," and the SEALs "[packed] the helicopter with explosives and [blew] it up".

While the official Department of Defense narrative did not mention the airbases used in the operation, later accounts indicated that the helicopters returned to Bagram Airfield. The body of Osama bin Laden was then flown from Bagram to the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

  in a V-22 Osprey escorted by two U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighter jets.

According to U.S. officials, bin Laden was buried at sea because no country would accept his remains. Before disposing of the body, the U.S. called the Saudi government, who approved of dumping the body in the ocean. Muslim religious rites
Islamic funeral
Funerals in Islam follow fairly specific rites, though they are subject to regional interpretation and variation in custom. In all cases, however, sharia calls for burial of the body, preceded by a simple ritual involving bathing and shrouding the body, followed by salah...

 were performed aboard the Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea within 24 hours of bin Laden's death. Preparations began at 10:10 a.m. local time and at-sea burial was completed at 11 a.m. The body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet and placed in a weighted plastic bag. An officer read prepared religious remarks which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. Afterward, bin Laden's body was placed onto a flat board. The board was tilted upward on one side and the body slid off into the sea.

Pakistan-U.S. communication


According to Obama administration officials, U.S. officials did not share information about the raid with the government of Pakistan until it was over. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen
Michael Mullen
Michael Glenn "Mike" Mullen is a retired United States Navy four-star admiral, who served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2011. Mullen previously served as the Navy's 28th Chief of Naval Operations from July 22, 2005 to September 29, 2007...

 called Pakistan's army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, NI, HI is a four-star general in the Pakistan Army, and the current Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army. He replaced General Pervez Musharraf as the Chief of Army Staff and the commandant of the army on November 29, 2007...

 at about 3 a.m. local time to inform him of the Abbottabad Operation.

According to the Pakistani foreign ministry, the operation was conducted entirely by the U.S. forces. Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) officials said they were present at what they called a joint operation; President Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari is the 11th and current President of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party . He is also the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who served two nonconsecutive terms as Prime Minister....

 flatly denied this. Pakistan's foreign secretary Salman Bashir
Salman Bashir
Salman Bashir is a Pakistani diplomat and the current Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 26 April, 2008. Bashir did his masters in History and LLB before joining the Foreign Service of Pakistan in February 1976...

 later confirmed that Pakistani military had scrambled F-16s after they became aware of the attack but that they reached the compound after American helicopters had left.

Identification of the body


U.S. forces used multiple methods to positively identify the body of Osama bin Laden:
  • Measurement of the body: Both the corpse and bin Laden were 6 in 4 in (193.04 cm); SEALs on the scene did not have a tape measure to measure the corpse, so a SEAL of known height lay down next to the body and the height was approximated by comparison.
  • Facial recognition software: A photograph transmitted by the SEALs to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia
    Langley, Virginia
    Langley is an unincorporated community in the census-designated place of McLean in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.The community was essentially absorbed into McLean many years ago, although there is still a Langley High School...

    , for facial recognition
    Facial recognition system
    A facial recognition system is a computer application for automatically identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source...

     analysis yielded a 90 to 95 percent likely match.
  • In-person identification: One or two women from the compound, including one of bin Laden's wives, identified bin Laden's body. A wife of bin Laden called him by name during the raid, inadvertently assisting in his identification by U.S. armed forces on the ground.
  • DNA testing: The Associated Press
    Associated Press
    The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

     and The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    reported that bin Laden's body could be identified by DNA testing using tissue and blood samples taken from his sister who had died of brain cancer. ABC News stated, "Two samples were taken from bin Laden: one of these DNA samples was analyzed, and information was sent electronically back to Washington, D.C., from Bagram. Someone else from Afghanistan is physically bringing back a sample." A military medic took bone marrow
    Bone marrow
    Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells. On average, bone marrow constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans; in adults weighing 65 kg , bone marrow accounts for approximately 2.6 kg...

     and swabs (probably buccal swab
    Buccal swab
    A buccal swab is a way to collect DNA from the cells on the inside of a person's cheek. Buccal swabs are a relatively non-invasive way to collect DNA samples for testing. Buccal means cheek or mouth....

    s) from the body to use for the DNA testing. According to a senior US Defense Department official:

  • Inference: Per the same Defense official, from the initial review of the materials removed from the Abbottabad compound the Department "assessed that much of this information, including personal correspondence between Osama bin Laden and others, as well as some of the video footage...would only have been in his possession."

Local accounts


Beginning at 12:58 a.m. local time, Abbottabad resident Sohaib Athar sent a series of tweets
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 describing the noise of helicopters hovering overhead—"a rare occurrence"—and several window-rattling blasts. By 1:44 a.m. all was quiet until a plane flew over the city at 3:39 a.m. Neighbors took to their roofs and watched as American special forces stormed the compound. One neighbor said, "I saw soldiers emerging from the helicopters and advancing towards the house. Some of them instructed us in chaste Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 to turn off the lights and stay inside." Another man said he heard shooting and screams, then an explosion as a grounded helicopter was destroyed. The blast broke his bedroom window and left charred debris over a nearby field. A local security officer said he entered the compound shortly after the Americans left, before it was sealed off by the army. "There were four dead bodies, three male and one female and one female was injured," he said. "There was a lot of blood on the floor and one could easily see the marks like a dead body had been dragged out of the compound." Numerous witnesses reported that power, and possibly cellphone service, went out around the time of the raid and apparently included the military academy. Accounts differed as to the exact time of the blackout. One journalist concluded after interviewing several residents that it was a routine rolling blackout
Rolling blackout
A rolling blackout, also referred to as load shedding, is an intentionally-engineered electrical power outage where electricity delivery is stopped for non-overlapping periods of time over geographical regions. Rolling blackouts are a last-resort measure used by an electric utility company in order...

.

ISI reported after questioning survivors of the raid that there were 17 to 18 people in the compound at the time of the attack and that the Americans took away one person still alive, possibly a bin Laden son. The ISI said that survivors included a wife, a daughter and eight to nine other children, not apparently bin Laden's. An unnamed Pakistani security official was quoted as saying one of bin Laden's daughters told Pakistani investigators that bin Laden had been captured alive, then in front of family members was shot dead by American forces and dragged to a helicopter.

Compound residents


U.S. officials said there were 22 people in the compound. Five were killed, including Osama bin Laden. Pakistani officials gave conflicting reports suggesting up to 17 survivors. The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times is a British Sunday newspaper.The Sunday Times may also refer to:*The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times...

subsequently published excerpts from a pocket guide, presumably dropped by the SEALs during the raid, containing pictures and descriptions of likely compound residents. The guide listed several adult children of bin Laden and their families who were not ultimately found in the compound. Because of a lack of verifiable information, some of what follows is thinly sourced.
  • 5 adults dead: Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Laden
    Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

    , 54; Khalid, his son by Siham (identified as Hamza
    Hamza bin Laden
    Hamza bin Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden better known as Hamza bin Laden or "Hamza Laden", is a son of Osama bin Laden, and a senior member of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan...

     in early accounts), 23; Arshad Khan, a.k.a. Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
    Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
    Sheikh Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti , also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad, was a Kuwait-born Pakistani al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden. According to secret documents, al-Kuwaiti was one of the few men Osama bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his...

    , the courier, described as the "flabby" one by The Sunday Times, 33; Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's brother Abrar, 30; and Bushra, Abrar's wife, age unknown.
  • 4 surviving women: Khairiah, bin Laden's third, Saudi wife a.k.a. Um Hamza, 62; Siham, bin Laden's fourth, Saudi wife a.k.a. Um Khalid, 54; Amal, bin Laden's fifth, Yemeni wife, a.k.a. Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, 29 (injured); and an unidentified woman, either Arshad Khan's second, Pakistani wife, or Khalid's wife and coincidentally the Khan brothers' sister, age unknown (injured).
  • 5 minor children of Osama and Amal: Safia, a daughter, 9 (injured); a son, 5; another son, age unknown; and infant twin daughters.
  • 4 bin Laden grandchildren from an unidentified daughter who had been killed in an airstrike in Waziristan. Two may be the boys, around 10, who spoke to Pakistani investigators.
  • 4 children of Arshad Khan: Two sons, Abdur Rahman and Khalid, 6 or 7; a daughter, age unknown; and another child, age unknown.

Alternate account


A book published in November 2011, Seal Target Geronimo by former SEAL commander Chuck Pfarrer
Chuck Pfarrer
Charles Patrick "Chuck" Pfarrer, III is an American novelist, screenwriter, and former U.S. Navy SEAL from Biloxi, Mississippi.-Biography:...

, contradicted the account as given by US Government sources. According to Pfarrer, neither helicopter crashed at the beginning of the raid. Instead, the SEALs fast-roped to the roof as planned, entered the third floor from the roof terrace, and shot and killed Bin Laden's son Khalid immediately upon entry.

Bin Laden, seeing the SEALs approach slammed the door to his room. Two SEALs broke through the door and saw that Bin Laden and his wife Amal were standing near the bed. Bin Laden shoved his wife towards the SEALs and lunged for a AKSU
Aksu
Aksu , is a city in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang and the capital of Aksu Prefecture...

 machine pistol
Machine pistol
A machine pistol is a handgun-style, often magazine-fed and self-loading firearm, capable of fully automatic or burst fire, and normally chambered for pistol cartridges. The term is a literal translation of Maschinenpistole, the German term for a hand-held automatic weapon...

 lying on the headboard. The two SEALs fired four shots at Bin Laden, one of which grazed Amal in the thigh. Two of the shots hit Bin Laden in the chest and head, killing him instantly. Neither SEAL then stated, "For God and country" in reporting Bin Laden's death. The total time elapsed had been, at most, 120 seconds.

Around the same time, snipers in the hovering Razor 2 helicopter shot and killed Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti when he came to the door of the guesthouse carrying an AK-47. Two of the snipers' bullets went through his body and killed his wife who was standing behind him. A short time later, for unknown reasons, Razor 1 crashed in the courtyard.

The US Department of Defense disputed Pfarrer's account of the raid, calling it "incorrect." The US Special Operations Command also disputed Pfarrer's account, saying, "It's just not true. It's not how it happened."

Leaks of the news


At around 9:45 p.m. EDT, the White House announced that the president would be addressing the nation later in the evening. Anonymous government officials leaked details to the media, and by 11 p.m. numerous major news sources were reporting that bin Laden was dead.

U.S. presidential address


At 11:35 p.m., President Obama appeared on major television networks:
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 was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children...
President Obama remembered the victims of the September 11 attacks. He praised the ten-year-old war against al-Qaeda, which he said had disrupted terrorist plots, strengthened homeland defenses, removed the Taliban government, and captured or killed scores of al-Qaeda operatives. Obama said that when he took office he made finding bin Laden the top priority of the war. Bin Laden's death was the most significant blow to al-Qaeda so far but the war would continue. He reaffirmed that the United States was not at war against Islam. He defended his decision to conduct an operation within Pakistan. He said Americans understood the cost of war but would not stand by while their security was threatened. "To those families who have lost loved ones to al-Qaeda’s terror," he said, "justice has been done."

Reactions



Within minutes of the official announcement, large crowds spontaneously gathered outside the White House, Ground Zero
World Trade Center site
The World Trade Center site , also known as "Ground Zero" after the September 11 attacks, sits on in Lower Manhattan in New York City...

, the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 and in New York's Times Square
Times Square
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets...

 to celebrate. In Dearborn, Michigan
Dearborn, Michigan
-Economy:Ford Motor Company has its world headquarters in Dearborn. In addition its Dearborn campus contains many research, testing, finance and some production facilities. Ford Land controls the numerous properties owned by Ford including sales and leasing to unrelated businesses such as the...

, where there is a large Muslim and Arab population, a small crowd gathered outside the City Hall in celebration, many of them being of Middle Eastern descent. From the beginning to the end of Obama's speech, 5,000 tweets per second were sent on microblogging platform Twitter. As news of bin Laden's death filtered through the crowd at a Major League Baseball game, "U-S-A!" cheers
U-S-A! cheer
U-S-A! is a chant that was first popularized after being yelled by fans during the 1980 Winter Olympics, held in Lake Placid, New York, USA, where the US men's ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in what became known as the "Miracle on Ice", later moving on to beat Finland for the gold...

 began. In Tampa, Florida, at the conclusion of a professional wrestling event which was occurring at the time, WWE Champion
WWE Championship
The WWE Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship in WWE. It is the world title of the Raw brand and one of two in WWE, complementing the World Heavyweight Championship of the SmackDown brand. It was established under the then WWWF in 1963...

 John Cena
John Cena
John Felix Anthony Cena is an American professional wrestler, actor, rapper, and television personality. He is currently signed to WWE as a member of its WWE Raw brand....

 announced to the audience that bin Laden had been "caught and compromised to a permanent end," prompting chants while he exited the arena to the song Stars and Stripes Forever.

The deputy leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

 said that, with bin Laden dead, Western forces should now pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan; authorities in Iran made similar comments. Palestinian Authority leaders had contrasting reactions. Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

 welcomed bin Laden's death, while Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 administration in the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, condemned what he saw as the assassination of an "Arab holy warrior".

The 14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

 was quoted by The Los Angeles Times as saying, "Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. ... If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures." This was widely reported as an endorsement of bin Laden's killing, but another journalist cited a video of the discussion to argue that the comment was taken out of context and the Dalai Lama only supports killing in self-defense.

A The New York Times/CBS poll taken after bin Laden's death showed that 16% of Americans feel safer as the result of his death while 60% of Americans of those polled believe killing bin Laden likely would increase the threat of terrorism against the United States in the short term.

In India, Minister for Home Affairs
Minister for Home Affairs (India)
The Home Minister, or more properly the Minister for Home Affairs, is a position in the Indian Cabinet, at both State and Union levels. The Home Ministry is one of the most important, powerful and high profile ministry after the Prime Minister...

 P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram or Chidambaram Palaniappan, sometimes written Palaniappan Chidambaram is an Indian politician with the Indian National Congress and present Union Minister of Home Affairs of the Republic of India. Previously he was the Finance Minister of India from May 2004 to November 2008...

 said that bin Laden hiding "deep inside" Pakistan was a matter of grave concern for India and showed that "many of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks
2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, by Islamist attackers who came from Pakistan...

, including the controllers and the handlers of the terrorists who actually carried out the attack, continue to be sheltered in Pakistan". He also called on Pakistan to arrest them, amidst calls for similar strikes being conducted by India against Hafeez Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim
Dawood Ibrahim
Dawood Ibrahim , also known as Dawood Ebrahim, and Sheikh Dawood Hassan, is the head of the organized crime syndicate [[D-Company]] in Mumbai. He is currently on the wanted list of Interpol for organised crime and counterfeiting. He was No. 4 on the Forbes' World's Top 10 most dreaded criminals...

.

Conspiracy theories



The reports of bin Laden's death on May 1, 2011 are not universally accepted despite DNA testing confirming his identity, Bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter witnessing his death, and a May 6, 2011 al-Qaeda statement confirming his death. The swift burial of bin Laden's body at sea, speed of the DNA results, and the decision not to release pictures of the dead body formed the basis of conspiracy theories that bin Laden had not died in the raid. Some Internet blogs suggested that the U.S. government feigned the raid, and some Internet forums hosted debates over the alleged hoax.

Under U.S. law


Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists
The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists , one of two resolutions commonly known as "AUMF" , was a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on...

. That resolution authorizes the US president
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 to use "necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons" he determines were involved in the September 11 attacks." The Obama administration justified its use of force by relying on that resolution, as well as international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 set forth in treaties and customary laws of war
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

.

John Bellinger III, who served as the U.S. State Department's senior lawyer during President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

's second term, said the strike was a legitimate military action and did not run counter to the U.S.' self-imposed prohibition on assassinations:
The killing is not prohibited by the long-standing assassination prohibition in executive order 12333
Executive Order 12333
On December 4, 1981 President Ronald Reagan signedExecutive Order 12333,an Executive Order intended toextend powers and responsibilities of US intelligence agencies and direct the leaders of U.S...

 [signed in 1981], because the action was a military action in the ongoing U.S. armed conflict with al-Qaeda, and it is not prohibited to kill specific leaders of an opposing force. The assassination prohibition does not apply to killings in self-defense.


Similarly, Harold Hongju Koh
Harold Hongju Koh
Harold Hongju Koh is an Korean American lawyer and legal scholar. He currently serves as the Legal Adviser of the Department of State. He was nominated to his current position by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2009, and confirmed by the Senate on June 25, 2009.In public service, Koh...

, Legal Adviser of the U.S. State Department
Legal Adviser of the Department of State
The Legal Adviser of the Department of State is a position within the United States Department of State. It was created by an Act of Congress on February 23, 1931 and given a rank equivalent to that of an Assistant Secretary...

, said in 2010 that "under domestic law, the use of lawful weapons systems—consistent with the applicable laws of war—for precision targeting
Targeted killing
Targeted killing is the deliberate, specific targeting and killing, by a government or its agents, of a supposed terrorist or of a supposed "unlawful combatant" who is not in that government's custody...

 of specific high-level belligerent leaders when acting in self-defense or during an armed conflict is not unlawful, and hence does not constitute 'assassination'."

David Scheffer
David Scheffer
David John Scheffer is an American lawyer and diplomat who served as the first United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, during President Bill Clinton's second term in office. He currently teaches at the Northwestern University School of Law, where he directs the Center for...

, director of the Northwestern University School of Law
Northwestern University School of Law
The Northwestern University School of Law is a private American law school in Chicago, Illinois. The law school was founded in 1859 as the Union College of Law of the Old University of Chicago. The first law school established in Chicago, it became jointly controlled by Northwestern University in...

 Center for International Human Rights, said the fact that bin Laden had previously been indicted in 1998 in a US District Court
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is a federal district court. Appeals from the Southern District of New York are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (in case...

 for conspiracy to attack U.S. defense installations was a complicating factor. "Normally when an individual is under indictment the purpose is to capture that person in order to bring him to court to try him ... The object is not to literally summarily execute
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

 him if he's under indictment." Scheffer and another expert opined that it was important to determine whether the mission was to capture bin Laden or to kill him. If the Navy SEALs were instructed to kill bin Laden without trying first to capture him, it "may have violated American ideals if not international law."

Under international law


In an address to the Pakistani parliament, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said, "Our people are rightly incensed on the issue of violation of sovereignty as typified by the covert U.S. air and ground assault on the Osama hideout in Abbottabad. ... The Security Council, while exhorting UN member states to join their efforts against terrorism, has repeatedly emphasized that this be done in accordance with international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

, human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 and humanitarian law." Former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf , is a retired four-star general who served as the 13th Chief of Army Staff and tenth President of Pakistan as well as tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Musharraf headed and led an administrative military government from October 1999 till August 2007. He ruled...

 denied a report in The Guardian that his government made a secret agreement permitting U.S. forces to conduct unilateral raids in search of the top three al-Qaida leaders.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder
Eric Holder
Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. is the 82nd and current Attorney General of the United States and the first African American to hold the position, serving under President Barack Obama....

 said, "The operation against bin Laden was justified as an act of national self-defense. It's lawful to target an enemy commander in the field." He called the killing of bin Laden "a tremendous step forward in attaining justice for the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans who were murdered on September 11, 2001." Commenting on the legality under international law, University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 Law Professor Steven Ratner said, "A lot of it depends on whether you believe Osama bin Laden is a combatant in a war or a suspect in a mass murder." In the latter case, "you would only be able to kill a suspect if they represented an immediate threat".

Holder testified that bin Laden made no attempt to surrender, and "even if he had there would be a good basis on the part of those very brave Navy SEAL team members to do what they did in order to protect themselves and the other people who were in that building." According to Anthony Dworkin, an international law expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations
European Council on Foreign Relations
The ' is the first pan-European think tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy....

, if bin Laden was hors de combat
Hors de combat
Hors de Combat, literally meaning "outside the fight," is a French term used in diplomacy and international law to refer to soldiers who are incapable of performing their military function. Examples include a downed fighter pilot, as well as the sick, wounded, detained, or otherwise disabled...

 (as his daughter is said to have alleged) that would have been a violation of Protocol I
Protocol I
Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts. It reaffirms the international laws of the original Geneva Conventions of 1949, but adds clarifications and new provisions to accommodate developments in modern...

 of the Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

.

The UN Security Council released a statement applauding the news of bin Laden's death, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 said he was "very much relieved". Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a joint statement cautioning that, "actions taken by States in combating terrorism, especially in high profile cases, set precedents for the way in which the right to life will be treated in future instances."

Handling of the body


Under Islamic tradition, burial at sea is considered inappropriate when other, preferred forms of burial are available, and several prominent Islamic clerics criticized the decision. Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb
Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb
Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb is the current Imam of al-Azhar Mosque. He was appointed by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, following the death of Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy in 2010.-References:...

, the head of Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University is an educational institute in Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 970~972 as a madrasa, it is the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. It is the oldest degree-granting university in Egypt. In 1961 non-religious subjects were added to its curriculum.It is...

, Egypt's seat of Sunni Muslim learning, said the disposal of the body at sea was an affront to religious and human values. Scholars like el-Tayeb hold that sea burials can only be allowed in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship, and that the regular practice should have occurred in this case—the body buried in the ground with the head pointing to Islam's holy city of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

.

A stated advantage of a burial at sea is that the site is not readily identified or accessed, thus preventing it from becoming a focus of attention or "terrorist shrine". The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

questioned whether bin Laden's grave would have become a shrine, as this is strongly discouraged in Wahhabism
Wahhabism
Wahhabism is a religious movement or a branch of Islam. It was developed by an 18th century Muslim theologian from Najd, Saudi Arabia. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations...

. Addressing the same concern, Egyptian Islamic analyst and lawyer Montasser el-Zayat
Montasser el-Zayat
Montasser el-Zayat or Muntasir al-Zayyat is an Egyptian lawyer and author whose former clients, according to press reports, included Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. He has written a book entitled Ayman al-Zawahiri as I Knew Him, which is strongly critical of al-Zawahiri. El-Zayat...

 said that if the Americans wished to avoid making a shrine to bin Laden, an unmarked grave on land would have accomplished the same goal.

The Guardian also quoted a U.S. official explaining the anticipated difficulty of finding a country that would accept the burial of bin Laden in its soil. A professor of Islamic Law
Islamic law
Islamic law can refer to:*Sharia: The code of conduct enjoined upon Muslims in the Quran*Fiqh: Muslim jurisprudence...

 at the University of Jordan
University of Jordan
The University of Jordan , is a government-supported University located in Amman, Jordan...

 stated burying at sea was permitted if there was nobody to receive the body and provide a Muslim burial, and that "it's neither true nor correct to claim that there was nobody in the Muslim world ready to receive bin Laden's body". On a similar note, Mohammed al-Qubaisi, Dubai's grand mufti
Mufti
A mufti is a Sunni Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law . In religious administrative terms, a mufti is roughly equivalent to a deacon to a Sunni population...

, stated: "They can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot say they did it according to Islam. If the family does not want him, it's really simple in Islam: you dig up a grave anywhere, even on a remote island, you say the prayers and that's it. Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances. This is not one of them."
Khalid Latif, an imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 who serves as a chaplain and the director of the Islamic Center of New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

, argued that the sea burial was respectful.

Leor Halevi, a professor at Vanderbilt University and the author of "Muhammad's Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society", explained that Islamic law does not prescribe ordinary funerals for those killed in battle, and pointed to controversy within the Muslim world over whether bin Laden was, as a "mass murderer of Muslims", entitled to the same respect as mainstream Muslims. At the same time, he suggested that the burial could have been handled with more cultural sensitivity.

Omar bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, published a complaint on May 10, 2011, that the burial at sea deprived the family of a proper burial.

Bin Laden's will


After bin Laden's death, it was reported he had left a will written a short time after 9/11 in which he urged his children not to join Al-Qaeda and not to continue the Jihad.

Release of photographs


CNN cited a senior U.S. official as saying three sets of photographs of bin Laden's body exist: Photos taken at a hangar
Hangar
A hangar is a closed structure to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also sometimes used...

 in Afghanistan, described as the most recognizable and gruesome; photos taken from the burial at sea on the USS Carl Vinson before a shroud was placed around his body; and photos from the raid itself, which include shots of the interior of the compound as well as three of the others who died in the raid.

A source told ABC News that the photos taken by the military servicemen on the scene depict the physical damage done by a "high-caliber
Caliber
In guns including firearms, caliber or calibre is the approximate internal diameter of the barrel in relation to the diameter of the projectile used in it....

 bullet". CBS Evening News
CBS Evening News
CBS Evening News is the flagship nightly television news program of the American television network CBS. The network has broadcast this program since 1948, and has used the CBS Evening News title since 1963....

reported that the photo shows that the bullet which hit above bin Laden's left eye blew out his left eyeball and blew away a large portion of his frontal skull, exposing his brain. CNN stated that the pictures from the Afghanistan hangar depict "a massive open head wound across both eyes. It's very bloody and gory." Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Jim Inhofe
Jim Inhofe
James Mountain "Jim" Inhofe is the senior Senator from Oklahoma and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1994, he is the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and was its chairman from 2003 to 2007. Inhofe served eight...

, who viewed the photos, stated that the photos taken of the body on the Carl Vinson, which showed bin Laden's face after much of the blood and material had been washed away, should be released to the public.

A debate on whether the military photos should or should not be released to the public has taken place. Those supporting the release argued that the photos should be considered public records
Public records
Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential. For example, in California, when a couple fills out a marriage license application, they have the option of checking the box as to whether the marriage is "confidential" or "Public"...

, that the photos are necessary to complete the journalistic record, and that the photos would prove bin Laden's death and therefore prevent conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theory
A conspiracy theory explains an event as being the result of an alleged plot by a covert group or organization or, more broadly, the idea that important political, social or economic events are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.-Usage:The term "conspiracy...

 that bin Laden is still alive. Those in opposition to a release of the photos expressed concern that the photos would inflame anti-American sentiment
Anti-Americanism
The term Anti-Americanism, or Anti-American Sentiment, refers to broad opposition or hostility to the people, policies, culture or government of the United States...

 in the Middle East.

President Obama ultimately decided not to release the photos. In an interview set to air on May 4 on 60 Minutes
60 Minutes
60 Minutes is an American television news magazine, which has run on CBS since 1968. The program was created by producer Don Hewitt who set it apart by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation....

, Obama stated that "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies. We don't need to spike the football", and that he was concerned with ensuring that "very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, or as a propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 tool. That's not who we are." Among Republican members of Congress, Senator Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Olin Graham is the senior U.S. Senator from South Carolina and a member of the Republican Party. Previously he served as the U.S. Representative for .-Early life, education and career:...

 criticized the decision and stated that he wanted to see the photos released, while Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and Representative Mike Rogers, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee
United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
The United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is a committee of the United States House of Representatives, currently chaired by Mike Rogers. It is the primary committee in the U.S...

, supported the decision not to release the photos.

On May 11, select members of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 (the congressional leadership and those who serve in a committee of intelligence, homeland security, judiciary, foreign relations, and military) were shown 15 bin Laden photos. In an interview with Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Laurence Spitzer is an American lawyer, former Democratic Party politician, and political commentator. He was the co-host of In the Arena, a talk-show and punditry forum broadcast on CNN until CNN cancelled his show in July of 2011...

, Senator Jim Inhofe
Jim Inhofe
James Mountain "Jim" Inhofe is the senior Senator from Oklahoma and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1994, he is the ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and was its chairman from 2003 to 2007. Inhofe served eight...

 said that three of the photos were of bin Laden alive for identification reference. Three other photos were of the sea burial ceremony.

The group Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch is an organization that describes itself as "a conservative, non-partisan American educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law." According to its mission statement, Judicial Watch "advocates high standards of...

 announced that they have filed a Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act (United States)
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure...

 request to obtain access to the photos. On May 9, the Department of Defense declined to process Judicial Watch's FOIA request, prompting a lawsuit. A FOIA request from the Associated Press has also been declined.

Role of Pakistan



Pakistan came under intense international scrutiny after the raid. The Pakistani government denied that it had sheltered bin Laden. It said it had been sharing information about the compound with the CIA and other intelligence agencies since 2009. After the raid, there was an unconfirmed report that Pakistan allowed Chinese military officials to examine the wreckage of the crashed helicopter.

Connections with Abbottabad


Abbottabad attracted refugees from fighting in the tribal areas
Federally Administered Tribal Areas
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas are a semi-autonomous tribal region in the northwest of Pakistan, lying between the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and the neighboring country of Afghanistan. The FATA comprise seven Agencies and six FRs...

 and Swat Valley, as well as Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. "People don't really care now to ask who's there," said Gohar Ayub Khan
Gohar Ayub Khan
Gohar Ayub Khan is a Pakistani politician and a son of the late Pakistani dictator, President General Ayub Khan. A Tareen/Tarin Afghan/Pathan, he was born in village Rehana, Haripur, Hazara region. Khan studied at Army Burn Hall College, Abbottabad, and Saint Mary's Academy, Rawalpindi,...

, a former foreign minister and resident of the city. "That's one of the reasons why, possibly, he came in there."

The city was home to at least one al-Qaeda leader before bin Laden. Operational chief Abu Faraj al-Libi reportedly moved his family to Abbottabad in mid-2003. Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI) raided the house in December 2003 but did not find him. A courier told interrogators that al-Libi used three houses in Abbottabad. Pakistani officials say they informed their American counterparts at the time that the city could be a hiding place for al-Qaeda leaders. In 2009 officials began providing the U.S. with intelligence about bin Laden's compound without knowing who lived there.

On January 25, 2011, ISI arrested Umar Patek
Umar Patek
Umar Patek is a member of Jemaah Islamiyah who was wanted in the United States, Australia, and Indonesia on terrorism charges. There was a US$1 million reward offered by the Rewards For Justice Program for information leading to his capture...

, an Indonesian wanted in connection with the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, while he was staying with a family in Abbottabad. Tahir Shehzad, a clerk at the post office, was arrested on suspicion of facilitating travel for al-Qaeda militants.

Allegations against Pakistan



Numerous allegations were made that the government of Pakistan had shielded bin Laden. Critics cited the very close proximity of bin Laden's heavily fortified compound to the Pakistan Military Academy, that the U.S. chose to not notify Pakistani authorities before the operation, and the double standards of Pakistan regarding the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks
2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, by Islamist attackers who came from Pakistan...

. U.S. government files, leaked by Wikileaks
Wikileaks
WikiLeaks is an international self-described not-for-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under The Sunshine Press organisation, claimed a database of more...

, disclosed that American diplomats had been told that Pakistani security services were tipping off bin Laden every time U.S. forces approached. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 (ISI), also helped smuggle al-Qaeda militants into Afghanistan to fight NATO troops. According to the leaked files, in December 2009, the government of Tajikistan had also told U.S. officials that many in Pakistan were aware of bin Laden's whereabouts.

CIA chief Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta
Leon Edward Panetta is the 23rd and current United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama since 2011. Prior to taking office, he served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 said the CIA had ruled out involving Pakistan in the operation, because it feared that "any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets." However, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 stated that "cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound in which he was hiding". Obama echoed her sentiments. John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan
John O. Brennan is chief counterterrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama; officially his title is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President...

, Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor, said that it was inconceivable that bin Laden did not have support from within Pakistan. He further stated: "People have been referring to this as hiding in plain sight. We are looking at how he was able to hide out there for so long."


Indian Minister for Home Affairs
Minister for Home Affairs (India)
The Home Minister, or more properly the Minister for Home Affairs, is a position in the Indian Cabinet, at both State and Union levels. The Home Ministry is one of the most important, powerful and high profile ministry after the Prime Minister...

 P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram or Chidambaram Palaniappan, sometimes written Palaniappan Chidambaram is an Indian politician with the Indian National Congress and present Union Minister of Home Affairs of the Republic of India. Previously he was the Finance Minister of India from May 2004 to November 2008...

 said that bin Laden hiding "deep inside" Pakistan was a matter of grave concern for India, and showed that "many of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks
2008 Mumbai attacks
The 2008 Mumbai attacks were more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India's largest city, by Islamist attackers who came from Pakistan...

, including the controllers and the handlers of the terrorists who actually carried out the attack, continue to be sheltered in Pakistan". He called on Pakistan to arrest them.

Pakistani-born British MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 Khalid Mahmood
Khalid Mahmood
Khalid Mahmood is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr since 2001.-Political career:...

 stated that he was "flabbergasted and shocked" after he learned that bin Laden was living in a city with thousands of Pakistani troops, reviving questions about alleged links between al-Qaeda and elements in Pakistan's security forces.

On August 7, 2011, the American spy novelist and security analyst Raelynn Hillhouse
Raelynn Hillhouse
Raelynn Hillhouse is an American national security and Intelligence Community analyst, former smuggler during the Cold War, and a spy novelist.-Personal history:...

 published an account on her national security blog The Spy Who Billed Me that suggested Pakistan's ISI had been sheltering bin Laden in return for a $25 million bounty
Bounty (reward)
A bounty is a payment or reward often offered by a group as an incentive for the accomplishment of a task by someone usually not associated with the group. Bounties are most commonly issued for the capture or retrieval of a person or object. They are typically in the form of money...

, however ISI and government officials have denied the allegations.

Pakistani response


According to a Pakistani intelligence official, raw phone-tap data had been transferred to the United States without being analyzed by Pakistan. While the U.S. "was concentrating on this" information since September 2010, information regarding bin Laden and the compound's inhabitants had "slipped from" Pakistan's "radar" over the months. Bin Laden left "an invisible footprint" and he had not been contacting other militant networks. It was noted that much focus had been placed on a courier entering and leaving the compound. The transfer of intelligence to the U.S. was a regular occurrence according to the official, who also stated regarding the raid that "I think they came in undetected and went out the same day", and Pakistan did not believe that U.S. personnel were present in the area before the special operation occurred.

According to the Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
Wajid Shamsul Hasan is a Pakistani diplomat. Since 22 June 2008, he has served as the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom.-Cricket Controversy:...

, Pakistan had prior knowledge that an operation would happen. Pakistan was "in the know of certain things" and "what happened, happened with our consent. Americans got to know him—where he was first—and that's why they struck it and struck it precisely." Husain Haqqani, Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., had said that Pakistan would have pursued bin Laden had the intelligence of his location existed with them and Pakistan was "very glad that our American partners did. They had superior intelligence, superior technology, and we are grateful to them."

Another Pakistani official stated that Pakistan "assisted only in terms of authorization of the helicopter flights in our airspace" and the operation was conducted by the United States. He also said that "in any event, we did not want anything to do with such an operation in case something went wrong."

In June the ISI
Inter-Services Intelligence
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence , is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan...

 arrested the owner of a safe house rented to the CIA to observe Osama bin Laden's compound and five CIA informants.

Code name



Several officials who were present in the Situation Room
White House Situation Room
The White House Situation Room is a conference room and intelligence management center in the basement of the West Wing of the White House. It is run by the National Security Council staff for the use of the President of the United States and his advisors to monitor and deal...

, including the president, told reporters that the code name for bin Laden was "Geronimo". They had watched Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta
Leon Edward Panetta is the 23rd and current United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama since 2011. Prior to taking office, he served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency...

, speaking from CIA headquarters
George Bush Center for Intelligence
The George Bush Center for Intelligence is the headquarters compound of the Central Intelligence Agency, located in the unincorporated community of Langley in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. The headquarters, officially named in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 for...

, while he narrated the action in Abbottabad. Panetta said, "We have a visual on Geronimo", and later, "Geronimo EKIA"--enemy killed in action
Killed in action
Killed in action is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own forces at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to...

. The actual words of the commander on the ground were, "For God and country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo". Officials subsequently explained that each step of the mission was labelled alphabetically, called an "Execution Checklist", it is used to ensure all participants in a large operation are kept synchronized with a minimum of radio traffic. "Geronimo" indicated the raiders had reached step "G", the capture or killing of bin Laden. Osama bin Laden himself was identified as "Jackpot", the general code name for the target of an operation. ABC News reported that otherwise his regular code name was "Cakebread". The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

reported that bin Laden's codename was "Crankshaft".

Many Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 were offended that Geronimo
Geronimo
Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. Allegedly, "Geronimo" was the name given to him during a Mexican incident...

, the legendary 19th century Apache
Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

 , was irrevocably linked with bin Laden. The chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is the federally recognized Native American tribe of Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache in Oklahoma.-History:The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is composed of Chiricahua Apache. The Apache are southern Athabaskan-speaking peoples who migrated many centuries ago from the subarctic to...

, the successor to Geronimo's tribe
Chiricahua
Chiricahua are a group of Apache Native Americans who live in the Southwest United States. At the time of European encounter, they were living in 15 million acres of territory in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona in the United States, and in northern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico...

, wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to "right this wrong". The president of the Navajo Nation
Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering , occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico...

 requested that the U.S. government change the code name retroactively. Officials from the National Congress of American Indians
National Congress of American Indians
The National Congress of American Indians is a American Indian and Alaska Native indigenous rights organization. It was founded in 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies that the U.S. government forced upon the tribal governments in contradiction of their treaty rights and...

 said the focus should be on honoring the disproportionately high number of Native Americans serving in the military, and they had been assured that "Geronimo" was not a code name for bin Laden. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is a committee of the United States Senate charged with oversight in matters related to the American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples. A Committee on Indian Affairs existed from 1820 to 1947, after which it was folded into the Committee on...

 heard testimony on the issue from tribal leaders, while the Defense Department had no comment except to say that no disrespect was intended.

Derivation of intelligence


After the death of bin Laden, some officials from the Bush administration, such as Bush Office of Legal Counsel
Office of Legal Counsel
The Office of Legal Counsel is an office in the United States Department of Justice that assists the Attorney General in his function as legal adviser to the President and all executive branch agencies.-History:...

 attorney John Yoo
John Yoo
John Choon Yoo is an American attorney, law professor, and author. As a former official in the United States Department of Justice during the George W...

 and former attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 under Bush Michael Mukasey, wrote Op/Eds claiming that enhanced interrogation techniques
Enhanced interrogation techniques
Enhanced interrogation techniques or alternative set of procedures are terms adopted by the George W. Bush administration in the United States to describe certain severe interrogation methods, often described as torture...

 they authorized yielded the intelligence that later led to locating bin Laden's hideout. Mukasey specifically stated that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was what brought out the crucial detail of the nickname of bin Laden's courier.

U.S. officials and legislators including Republican John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and Democrat Diane Feinstein, Chairwoman of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is dedicated to overseeing the United States Intelligence Community—the agencies and bureaus of the federal government of the United States who provide information and analysis for leaders of the executive and legislative branches. The...

, countered that those statements were "false", noting a report by CIA Director Leon Panetta stating that the first mention of the courier's nickname did not come from KSM, but rather from another government's interrogation of a suspect whom they said they "believe was not tortured". McCain called on Mukasey to retract his claims.
CIA director Leon Panetta had written a letter to McCain on the issue, stating, "Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier's role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the 'only timely and effective way' to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively." Although some information may have been obtained from detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, Panetta's letter to Senator McCain confirms that enhanced interrogation techniques may have hindered the search for Bin Laden by producing false information during interrogations. In the letter CIA Director Panetta wrote Senator McCain that
"We first learned about the facilitator/courier's nom de guerre from a detainee not in CIA custody in 2002. It is also important to note that some detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques attempted to provide false or misleading information about the facilitator/courier. These attempts to falsify the facilitator/courier's role were alerting. In the end, no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier's full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means."


In addition, other U.S. officials claim that shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, detainees in CIA secret prisons told interrogators about the courier's pseudonym "al-Kuwaiti" and that when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was later captured, he only "confirmed" the courier's pseudonym. After Abu Faraj al-Libbi
Abu Faraj al-Libbi
Abu Faraj al-Libi is an assumed name or nom de guerre of a Libyan alleged to be a senior member of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. His real name is thought to be Mustafa al-'Uzayti. He was arrested by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence on May 2, 2005, in Mardan...

 was captured he provided false or misleading information: he denied that he knew al-Kuwaiti and he made up another name instead. Also, a group of interrogators asserted that the courier's nickname, was not divulged "during torture, but rather several months later, when [detainees] were questioned by interrogators who did not use abusive techniques."

Intelligence post mortem



Evidence seized from the compound is said to include ten cell phones, five to ten computers, twelve hard drives, at least 100 computer disks (including thumb drives and DVD
DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

s), handwritten notes, documents, weapons and "an assortment of personal items." Intelligence analysts will also study call detail record
Call detail record
A call detail record , also known as call data record, is a data record produced by a telephone exchange or other telecommunications equipment documenting the details of a phone call that passed through the facility or device...

s from two phone numbers that were found to be sewn into bin Laden's clothing.

The material gathered at the compound is being stored at the FBI Laboratory
FBI Laboratory
The FBI Laboratory is a division within the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that provides forensic analysis support services to the FBI, as well as to state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge. The lab is currently located at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico,...

 in Quantico, Virginia
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

, where forensic experts will analyze fingerprint
Fingerprint
A fingerprint in its narrow sense is an impression left by the friction ridges of a human finger. In a wider use of the term, fingerprints are the traces of an impression from the friction ridges of any part of a human hand. A print from the foot can also leave an impression of friction ridges...

s, DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 and other trace evidence
Trace evidence
Trace evidence is evidence that occurs when different objects contact one another. Such materials are often transferred by heat induced by contact friction....

 left on the material. Copies of the material are being provided to other agencies; officials want to preserve a chain of custody
Chain of custody
Chain of custody refers to the chronological documentation or paper trail, showing the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of evidence, physical or electronic...

 in case any of the information is needed as evidence in a future trial.

A special CIA team has been given the responsibility of combing through the digital material and documents removed from the bin Laden compound. The CIA team is working in collaboration with other U.S. government agencies "to triage, catalog and analyze this intelligence."

Bin Laden's youngest wife told Pakistani investigators that the family lived in the feudal
Feudalism in Pakistan
The feudal archetype in Pakistan consists of landlords with large joint families possessing hundreds or even thousands of acres of land. They seldom make any direct contribution to agricultural production. Instead, all work is done by peasants or tenants who live at subsistence level...

 village of Chak Shah Mohammad Khan, in the nearby district of Haripur
Haripur District
Haripur is a district in the Hazara region of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa, province of Pakistan with an altitude of around above sea level. Haripur District has the highest Human Development Index of all the districts in the Hazara....

, for two-and-a-half years prior to moving to Abbottabad in late 2005.

Helicopter stealth technology revelations


The tail section
Tail rotor
The tail rotor, or anti-torque rotor, is a smaller rotor mounted so that it rotates vertically or near-vertically at the end of the tail of a traditional single-rotor helicopter. The tail rotor's position and distance from the center of gravity allow it to develop thrust in the same direction as...

 of the secret helicopter survived demolition and lay just outside the compound wall. Pakistani security forces put up a cloth barrier at first light to hide the wreckage. Later, a tractor hauled it away hidden under a tarp. Journalists nevertheless managed to obtain photographs which revealed the previously undisclosed stealth technology
Stealth technology
Stealth technology also termed LO technology is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures, which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, and missiles, to make them less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection...

. Aviation Week said the helicopter appeared to be a significantly modified MH-60 Black Hawk
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System competition in 1972...

. Serial numbers found at the scene were consistent with an MH-60 built in 2009. Its performance during the operation confirmed that a stealth helicopter
Stealth helicopter
Stealth helicopters are helicopters that incorporate stealth technology to avoid detection. In recent years, designs for blades have emerged that can significantly reduce the noise, which is a major issue for clandestine use of helicopters...

 could evade detection in a militarily sensitive, densely populated area. Photos showed that Black Hawk's tail had stealth-configured shapes on the boom and the fairings, swept stabilizers
Stabilizer (aircraft)
In aviation, a stabilizer provides stability when the aircraft is flying straight, and the airfoil of the horizontal stabilizer balances the forces acting on the aircraft....

 and a "hubcap" over the noise-reducing five- or six-blade tail rotor. It appeared to have a silver-loaded infrared suppression
Infrared signature
The term infrared signature is used by defense scientists and the military to describe the appearance of objects to infrared sensors. An infrared signature depends on many factors, including the shape and size of the object, temperature and emissivity, reflection of external sources from the...

 finish similar to some V-22 Ospreys. The U.S. requested return of the wreckage and the Chinese government also expressed interest, according to Pakistani officials. Pakistan had custody of the wreckage for over two weeks before its return was secured by US Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

. Experts disagreed as to how much information could have been gleaned from the tail fragment. Stealth technology was already operational on several fixed-wing aircraft
Stealth aircraft
Stealth aircraft are aircraft that use stealth technology to avoid detection by employing a combination of features to interfere with radar as well as reduce visibility in the infrared, visual, audio, and radio frequency spectrum. Development of stealth technology likely began in Germany during...

 and the cancelled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter- however, the modified Black Hawk was the first confirmed operational "stealth helicopter". Likely, the most valuable information could come from radar-absorbing paint used on the tail section. Local children were seen picking up pieces of the wreckage and selling them as souvenirs. In August 2011, reports surfaced that Pakistan had allowed the People's Republic of China scientists to examine the helicopter's tail section and were especially interested in its radar-absorbing paint. Pakistan and the PRC subsequently denied these claims.

Previous attempts to capture or kill bin Laden



  • February 1994: A team of Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

    ns attacked bin Laden's home in the Sudan
    Sudan
    Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

    . The CIA investigated and reported that they had been hired by Saudi Arabia
    Saudi Arabia
    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

    , but Saudi Arabia accused them of lying to make bin Laden more amenable to Sudanese interests.
  • August 20, 1998: In Operation Infinite Reach
    Operation Infinite Reach
    The August 1998 bombings of Afghanistan and Sudan were American cruise missile strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan on August 20, 1998...

    , the U.S. Navy launched 66 cruise missiles at a suspected al-Qaeda training camp outside Khost, Afghanistan
    Khost
    Khost or Khowst is a city in eastern Afghanistan. It is the capital of Khost province, which is a mountainous region near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan...

    , where bin Laden was expected to be. Reports said that 30 people may have been killed.
  • 2000: Foreign operatives working on behalf of the CIA fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a convoy of vehicles in which bin Laden was traveling through the mountains of Afghanistan, hitting one of the vehicles but not the one in which bin Laden was riding.
  • December 2001: During the opening stages of the war in Afghanistan launched following the September 11 attacks, the U.S. and its allies believed that bin Laden was hiding in the rugged mountains at Tora Bora. Despite overrunning the Taliban and al-Qaeda positions, they failed to capture or kill him.

See also


  • Coup de main
    Coup de main
    A coup de main is a swift attack that relies on speed and surprise to accomplish its objectives in a single blow. The United States Department of Defense defines it as:The literal translation from French means a stroke or blow of the hand...

  • FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
    FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
    The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list arose from a conversation held in late 1949 between J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and William Kinsey Hutchinson, International News Service Editor-in-Chief, who were discussing ways to promote capture of the...

  • High-value target
  • Manhunt (military)
    Manhunt (military)
    Manhunting is the deliberate identification, capturing, or killing of senior or otherwise important enemy combatants, classified as high-value targets, usually by special operations forces and intelligence organizations...

  • The Situation Room (photograph)
    The Situation Room (photograph)
    White House photographer Pete Souza captured a noted photograph in the White House Situation Room at 4:06 PM on May 1, 2011. The photograph shows the President of the United States, Barack Obama, along with his national security team, receiving live updates of Operation Neptune Spear, which led to...

  • Special Activities Division
    Special Activities Division
    The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...


External links