In a surgical raid that lasted just over 40 minutes, America’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, the assumed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States, was killed during a gun battle with U.S. forces. The operation, completed by U.S. Navy Seals and other American operatives, occurred at what is being described as a compound in the city of Abbottabad, just 30 miles north of Islamabad, the capitol city of Pakistan. According to government reports, at least four others were killed in the operation. Although one of the mission’s helicopters crashed, no Americans were injured during the operation.
President Obama ordered the operation based on intelligence information collected about a courier to the Pakistani compound where bin Laden was found. According to government officials, the operation was carried out with no expectation that bin Laden would be taken alive. Government officials also stated that bin Laden’s body had been taken by U.S. forces and was being handled in accordance with Islamic traditions. By the early morning hours on Monday, his body was buried at sea, thus depriving followers of the terrorist leader the opportunity to create a shrine. The burial was also in accordance with Islamic tradition that the body be buried within 24 hours of death.
The news was greeted in the United States and around the world with cheers. Outside the White House in Washington, D.C. and at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, crowds gathered overnight to celebrate the news of bin Laden’s death, singing patriotic songs and chanting, “USA! USA!”
By Monday morning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had updated their Most Wanted list to show that Osama bin Laden was deceased.
At approximately 10:15 p.m. Eastern Time, the Obama Administration requested television network air time on short notice, a highly unusual move that indicated something of major importance, although administration officials refused to provide further information. As Congressional staff members were informed, the news leaked out. President Obama’s speech, occurring after 11 p.m. ET, merely confirmed what the world already knew.
“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” President Obama said. “A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
The President went on to say that the U.S. must and will remain vigilant at home and abroad against the threat still posed by al-Qaeda. He also spoke directly to the families of 9/11 victims saying, “We have never forgotten your loss” and “Justice has been done.”
Osama bin Laden’s identity was confirmed by DNA analysis and through facial analysis. According to U.S. government reports, a bullet wound to the head killed him. Photos have not been released and to date there is no word on if they will be released.
Earlier in the evening, President Obama contacted former President George W. Bush to inform him of the news. President Bush issued the following statement:
“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”
South Hillsborough’s elected officials also weighed in on the news.
Governor Rick Scott:
“The death of Osama Bin Laden marks a great victory for Americans and for freedom-loving people worldwide. Finally, some degree of justice has been achieved after nearly a decade of death, war and untold sacrifices because of that man. For the loved ones of all those we’ve lost in this war on terror, may this bring some measure of peace.
I am so proud of our dedicated military men and women and our intelligence community for not giving up in our pursuit of justice. I am grateful for their tenacity and their deep sacrifices. President Barack Obama should also be commended for doing the right thing and following through with the promise of justice initially given by President George W. Bush.
While threats remain, today the world is a safer place.”
Senator Marco Rubio:
“Just as every American will never forget where we were when America was attacked on 9/11, this moment will forever be remembered by each one of us as the day justice for that tragedy was finally served.
I congratulate our intelligence and military communities on this monumental operation. Their persistence and relentlessness in tracking Osama Bin Laden down have finally brought us this long awaited event.
While this diabolical terrorist’s death at America’s hands is a moment to celebrate, we must never forget the serious terrorist threats that remain and will demand an enduring vigilance.”
Senator Bill Nelson:
“The noose has been tightening for months because of our intelligence operations and we’ve finally cut off the head of the snake. This is a historic day and we thank the men and women who carried out this operation.”
Congresswoman Kathy Castor:
“Finally after 10 long years, the maniacal founder of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network who had the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands has met his end. President Obama and the outstanding men and women in America’s intelligence and armed forces, especially those in Special Operations, remained focused on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice — and today justice was done.”
Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam (posted via Twitter):
“What great news for our nation and the world that Bin Laden is no longer a menace to freedom loving people. We can’t let time dim the memory of those innocent victims of 9/11.”
At press time, attempts to contact Congressman Dennis Ross for comment were not successful.
In preparation for any possible retaliation by Al Qaeda followers, military bases and U.S. assets around the world have been put on high alert. Law enforcement officials in New York City and Washington, D.C. have also been placed on heightened alert. The U.S. State Department has issued a “worldwide caution” for Americans traveling or living abroad.
Although bin Laden has been described as having become marginalized in the Al Qaeda network, which has greatly fractured since the war on terror began in 2002; his death in a U.S. operation is widely considered a major psychological victory.
For millions of Americans and others around the world, it also ends a chapter that began even prior to 9/11 with the bombings of the United States embassy in Africa in 1998 and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000.
On Monday, during a ceremony honoring two Korean War veterans with Medals of Honor, President Obama said, “It is a good day in America.”