“Justice has been done,” United States President Barak Obama declared from the White House East Room. President Obama spoke to the American people in a late night address, and confirmed that Osama bin Laden was killed by United States Military Forces, and Agents of the Central Intelligence Agency in a “compound” in Abottabad, 56 kilometers from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. United States took custody of the body. The Wall Street Journal reported that Osama bin Laden’s body was buried at sea in compliance with Islamic traditions, and that his remains were identified by US Forces, as well as by family members at the compound where he died. DNA testing is also being conducted.
There were no American casualties during the assault.
The attack, and victory
Osama bin Laden was shot in the head, as he resisted US Forces, the New York Times wrote. Battle that killed Osama bin Laden was the culmination of months of detective work by US Intelligence. According to the New York Times, US intelligence tracked one of Osama bin Laden’s courier into the site. They speculated that the fortress was so heavily defended that it couldn’t have been hiding a “mere courier.” Guantánamo Bay detainees, according to the New York Times gave the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators, and was a protege of Khalid Shaikh Mohammaed, the mastermind of September 11.
President Obama explained that a small team of US Forces penetrated the area, and engaged in a firefight. The action was about 40 minutes long and Osama bin Laden, and his force resisted and engaged US Forces. Casualties in the firefight included a woman who was used as a human shield, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons and two “couriers.”
Wired’s Danger Room quoted senior Obama administration officials describing Osama’s Abottabad base defenses as “extraordinary.” There were 3.7 to 5.5 meter high walls, with barbed wire on top, described the official. Danger Room added that there were internal walls provided sectioned portions of the compound, ensuring privacy. “A terrace on the third flood has a seven foot wall privacy– has a seven foot privacy wall.”
United States news media earlier reported ahead of President Obama’s speech that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden. Their sources reveal that the United States has either or both DNA evidence and his body. Osama’s body was identified through DNA testing done on his sister who lives in Boston.
President George W. Bush issued a statement, “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.”
President Bill Clinton released a statement on the death of Osama bin Laden saying, ““This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida’s other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children.”
Twitter breaks the news
GMA News TV curated what appear to be live tweets by Pakistanis of the attack on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad headquarters. “A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S” tweeted @ReallyVirtual
As news began to circulate on twitter that President Barack Obama was going to address the American people, there was speculation that the announcement involved Libya, which was quickly shot down. The Guardian recalled that it was twitter where the news first broke. Keith Urbahn (@keithurbahn) tweeted, “So I’m told by a reputable person that they have killed Osama bin Laden.” Urbahn was the former Chief of Staff for Donald Rumsfeld, the United States Secretary of Defense under United States President George W. Bush.
The rest, as they say was history.
Quickly, conflicting reports that Osama bin Laden was killed in Afghanistan or in Northwest Pakistan, surfaced. CNN then reported that Osama bin Laden was killed in a mansion outside Pakistan. Osama bin Laden’s death was then confirmed by senior Pakistani intelligence officials. It was followed by confirmation from news organizations, and STRATFOR too confirmed that Osama bin Laden was killed together with his family members in that Pakistani mansion. The mansion is reportedly close to the Pakistani capital, and that strained further US-Pakistan relations.
There were reports that as Al Jazera English noted that Osama bin Laden was killed by a drone strike.
The leader of al-Qaeda
Osama bin Laden led his terrorist organization, al-Qaeda to attack the United States on 9 September 2001. Those attacks led to the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the War on Terror. Osama bin Laden marketed himself to his legion as someone who gave up a life of privilege for his Jihad.
“To this day, the precise reach of his power remains unknown: how many members Al Qaeda could truly count on; how many countries its cells had penetrated; and whether, as Bin Laden boasted, he sought to arm Al Qaeda with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
He waged holy war with distinctly modern methods. He sent fatwas — religious decrees — by fax and declared war on Americans in an e-mail beamed by satellite around the world. Qaeda members kept bomb-making manuals on CD and communicated with encrypted memos on laptops, leading one American official to declare that Bin Laden possessed better communications technology than the United States. He railed against globalization, even as his agents in Europe and North America took advantage of a globalized world to carry out their attacks, insinuating themselves into the very Western culture he despised.”
In Manila, President Benigno Aquino III in reacting to news that Osama bin Laden has been killed said, “One sword has been beaten down; we must continue to be dedicated to the principle of beating the swords of terrorism into the plowshares of progress and peace.”
Robert Scoble (@scobleizer), on twitter joked, “So can we stop the lame airport checks now? Although I sorta like being grouped. ;-)”
BreakingNews quoted @joebrooks: “NBC News: This new decade could be the beginning of the era of Arab-Democracy.”
The world now awaits the outcome. With the death of Osama bin Laden translate to an end to terror, or is the normal that spawned from September 11, continue on?
The following are tweets as news that Osama bin Laden was killed broke.
Photos by White House, public domain