U.S. intelligence led to military operation; U.S. has custody of al-Qaida leader’s body, source says
Obama confirms bin Laden is dead (NBC News, May 1, 2011) – President Obama announces that a small team of military specialists were involved in a firefight in Pakistan, which killed Osama bin Laden. (09:18)
May 1, 2011
Osama bin Laden, the Saudi extremist whose al-Qaida terrorist organization killed more than 3,000 people in coordinated attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001 [link added], is dead following a military operation in Pakistan and the U.S. has recovered his body, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Sunday night.
“Justice has been done,” the president declared as crowds formed outside the White House to celebrate, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “We Are the Champions,” NBC News reported.
Obama said the 54-year-old bin Laden, whom he called a terrorist “responsible for the murder of thousands of American men, women and children,” was killed in Pakistan earlier in the day after a firefight in a military operation that was based on U.S. intelligence. Other U.S. officials said one of bin Laden’s sons and two of his most trusted couriers also were killed, as was an unidentified woman who was used as a human shield [link added]. …
Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that he had personally been informed by Obama of the death of the terrorist leader whose attacks forever defined his eight years in office.
“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 former president said. [link added] …
Obama echoed his predecessor, declaring that “the death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s struggle to defeat al-Qaida.”
But he stressed that the effort against the organization continues. Al-Qaida remains in existence as an organization, presumably under the leadership of Ayman al-Zawahiri, 59, an Egyptian physician who is widely believed to have been bin Laden’s No. 2. [links added] …
Officials had long believed that bin Laden was hiding in a mountainous region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border [link added]. In August, U.S. intelligence officials got a tip on his whereabouts, which led to the operation that culminated Sunday, Obama said.
U.S. officials told NBC News that U.S. Special Operations forces carried out the attack on the al-Qaida compound, killing bin Laden when they shot him in the head during a firefight.
The special operations forces returned with the body to Afghanistan, U.S. officials said. They said they were ensuring that it was being handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. …
Senior administration officials said U.S. officials believed they had known where bin Laden was since September. By mid-February, information developed that made them confident that the information was sound.
In mid-March, Obama headed five National Security Council meetings on the subject. Friday morning, he gave the final order to carry out the attack on a compound in what was described as an “affluent suburb” of Islamabad. …
Bin Laden’s compound was huge and “extraordinarily unique,” about eight times larger than other homes in the area, U.S. officials said.
They said the compound was isolated by 12-foot walls, with access restricted to two security gates. It had no telephone or Internet service and had clearly been custom built to hide “someone of significance.” …
Posthumous bin Laden message aired (NBC “Today,” May 19, 2011) – U.S. intelligence officials are poring over what is likely Osama bin Laden’s final message to the world. NBC’s Richard Engel reports. (02:14)
Reuters and MSNBC.com
May 19, 2011
CAIRO — Al-Qaida has released a posthumous audio recording by Osama bin Laden in which the Islamist group’s ex-leader praises the revolutions sweeping the Arab world.
In the audio, the former al-Qaida leader, who was killed in a U.S. raid on May 2 in Pakistan, expressed joy at the victory of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia amid the so-called Arab Spring, Reuters reported.
In the audio, bin Laden talks about how the movement started in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
“The sun of the revolution has risen from the Maghreb. The light of the revolution came from Tunisia. It has given the nation tranquility and made the faces of the people happy,” he says.
Tunisia’s president was overthrown in January, and this was then followed by Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s departure after mass protests centered on Cairo’s Tahrir Square. …
Bin Laden urged people to “continue the march and don’t fear the hardships.”
“Sons of my Muslim Ummah (community): You are before a dangerous crossroads and a great, rare and historic opportunity to raise the Ummah and be liberated from enslavement to the wishes of the rulers and the man-made laws and the Western domination,” he added.
“It is of great sin and big ignorance that this opportunity gets lost, which the Ummah has been waiting for faraway decades. So take advantage of it and destroy the idols and statues and establish justice and faith,” he said. …
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — May 1, 2010
This still photo released by the New York City Police Department shows one of the alarm clocks found in the Nissan Pathfinder that was used in the attempted bombing of Times Square.
One year ago today, I reported that police found an apparent car bomb in a parked sport utility vehicle in New York City’s Times Square, then evacuated buildings and cleared streets of thousands of tourists.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — May 1, 2009
Clockwise from top left: James R. McIlvaine, Mark A. Wojciechowski, Tyler Trahan, Brad A. Davis, Benjamin Moore, Jr., and Leroy O. Webster. (Photos: MySpace, Facebook, and the tribute page for CSM Moore. (Photo credit: Salem-News.com)
Two years ago today, on May 1, 2009, I reported that three U.S. troops had been killed in fighting west of Baghdad, pushing the U.S. toll for April to 18 — double the number killed in March — and making April the deadliest month thus far in 2009 for American forces in Iraq.
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