The Bin Laden Operation
Barack Said In 2007 He Would Do This
Did Pakistan Know Where Bin Laden Was?
Dead, Dead, Dead
Bin Laden Was In A Huge House
Bin Laden: Dead
They are going to make a movie out of this.
The Nation: JSOC: The Black Ops Force That Took Down Bin Laden
Did Pakistan Know Where Bin Laden Was?
Dead, Dead, Dead
Bin Laden Was In A Huge House
Bin Laden: Dead
They are going to make a movie out of this.
The Nation: JSOC: The Black Ops Force That Took Down Bin Laden
elite Navy SEALS from the Joint Special Operations Command. Operators from SEAL Team Six, also known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or just DevGru, are widely considered to be the most elite warriors in the US national security apparatus...... “sort of like Murder, Incorporated.” ...... “Their business is killing Al Qaeda personnel. That’s their business. They’re not in the business of converting anybody to our goals or anything like that.” Shortly after the operation was made public, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey called JSOC’s operators the “most dangerous people on the face of the earth.” ...... “a surgical type of unit,” adding “if you need someone that can sky dive from thirty miles away, and go down the chimney of the castle, and blow it up from the inside—those are the guys you want to call on.” Shelton added, “They are the quiet professionals. They do it, and do it well, but they don’t brag about it. Someone has to toot their horn for them, because they won’t, normally.” ........ a very close relationship between President Obama and JSOC. Some allege Obama has used them to “hit harder” than President Bush. ....... “From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers. After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap—boom, boom—to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by US forces.” ........ “We shared our intelligence on this bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan” ....... The fact that bin Laden’s compound was a stone’s throw from a Pakistani military installation in an urban area raises disturbing questions about how Pakistan’s military or intelligence services would not be aware of his location. ....... Both President Bush and President Obama have reserved the right for US forces to operate lethally and unilaterally in any country across the globe in pursuit of alleged high value terrorists. The Obama administration’s expansion of US Special Operations activities globally ....... The vast majority of JSOC’s missions are highly classified and compartmentalized. In some cases, JSOC operators have conducted operations without informing the combatant commanders of their presence. ....... JSOC forces were responsible for the botched rescue that ended up killing British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan on October 8, 2010. JSOC also carried out a raid in Gardez, Afghanistan, in February 2010 during which two pregnant women and a US-trained Afghan police commander were killed. In that case, senior Afghan security officials and eyewitnesses claimed that US forces dug the bullets out of the dead women’s bodies. Initially, JSOC’s forces tried to cover up the incident by blaming the killings on a Taliban “honor killing.” Eventually, Admiral McRaven took responsibility for the botched raid and apologized to the family. ...... The primacy of JSOC within the Obama administration’s foreign policy—from Yemen and Somalia to Afghanistan and Pakistan—indicates that he has doubled down on the Bush-era policy of targeted assassination as a staple of US foreign policy.Yahoo News: One unwary phone call led US to bin Laden doorstep
The violent final minutes were the culmination of years of intelligence work. Inside the CIA team hunting bin Laden, it always was clear that bin Laden's vulnerability was his couriers. He was too smart to let al-Qaida foot soldiers, or even his senior commanders, know his hideout. But if he wanted to get his messages out, somebody had to carry them, someone bin Laden trusted with his life. ........ Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic. ....... Bin Laden was famously insistent that no phones or computers be used near him, so the eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency kept coming up cold. ...... Then in the middle of last year, the courier had a telephone conversation with someone who was being monitored by U.S. intelligence ....... The courier was located somewhere away from bin Laden's hideout when he had the discussion, but it was enough to help intelligence officials locate and watch him. ........ In August 2010, the courier unknowingly led authorities to a compound in the northeast Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where al-Libi had once lived. The walls surrounding the property were as high as 18 feet and topped with barbed wire. Intelligence officials had known about the house for years, but they always suspected that bin Laden would be surrounded by heavily armed security guards. Nobody patrolled the compound in Abbottabad. ....... The CIA soon believed that bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, in a hideout especially built to go unnoticed. But since bin Laden never traveled and nobody could get onto the compound without passing through two security gates, there was no way to be sure. ....... Said Brennan: "The president had to evaluate the strength of that information, and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory." ........ Obama tapped two dozen members of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six to carry out a raid with surgical accuracy. ...... Before dawn Monday morning, a pair of helicopters left Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. The choppers entered Pakistani airspace using sophisticated technology intended to evade that country's radar systems ........ With the CIA and White House monitoring the situation in real time — presumably by live satellite feed or video carried by the SEALs — the team stormed the compound. ....... Thanks to sophisticated satellite monitoring, U.S. forces knew they'd likely find bin Laden's family on the second and third floors of one of the buildings on the property, officials said. The SEALs secured the rest of the property first, then proceeded to the room where bin Laden was hiding. In the ensuing firefight, Brennan said, bin Laden used a woman as a human shield. ....... U.S. forces searched the compound and flew away with documents, hard drives and DVDs that could provide valuable intelligence about al-Qaida ...... The entire operation took about 40 minutes ....... Bin Laden's body was flown to the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian sea ...... aboard a U.S. warship, officials conducted a traditional Islamic burial ritual. Bin Laden's body was washed and placed in a white sheet. He was placed in a weighted bag that, after religious remarks by a military officer, was slipped into the sea about 2 a.m.Wall Street Journal: U.S. Rolled Dice in bin Laden Raid
As two Black Hawk helicopters packed with American special forces skimmed their way across a moonless sky toward Osama bin Laden's lair, the mission's planners still weren't even sure their target lived there.Wall Street Journal: Pakistan's bin Laden Connection Is Probed
Obama administration officials said Monday they would probe whether Pakistani authorities helped al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden stay in hiding for years ...... an outsize mansion complex located in the same city as Pakistan's top military academy. ...... how bin Laden, the most wanted man in American history, had eluded a manhunt that dates back more than a decade. ...... a three-story mansion complex in Abbottabad, a city roughly 40 miles north of Islamabad that is thick with active and retired Pakistani military personnel. ....... bin Laden clearly had support from within Pakistan that allowed him to live there. ...... the U.S. would have to probe for the possible involvement of Pakistan's spy service and the military. ....... Washington should re-evaluate its multibillion-dollar aid package for Pakistan because of the suspicions that at least some in the government may have played a role in sheltering the fugitive al Qaeda leader. ....... the ISI also had provided intelligence related to couriers who worked for bin Laden and eventually led the U.S. to his compound ....... Saudi Arabia declined a U.S. offer to take the body ...... "We were shocked by what we saw," one official said, calling it "an extraordinarily unique compound." ...... Roughly eight times the size of other homes in the neighborhood, the compound had high barbed-wire fences and two security gates. Some living nearby called activity there unusual, recounting how one person frequently seen entering the house gave conflicting stories about himself and asked for bills to be delivered to a off-site location. ........ The property was valued at about $1 million ..... built in 2005 ..... "At best, the Pakistanis look totally incompetent," said C. Christine Fair, an assistant professor and Pakistan expert at Georgetown University. "At worst, they look completely complicit." ....... "It's hard to imagine if they didn't know, why they didn't," said one top American aide. "Either way, it's troubling."Wall Street Journal: White House Says bin Laden Was Unarmed
one of bin Laden's several wives did rush U.S. forces and was shot in the leg, but not killed. ...... U.S. forces "methodically cleared the compound, moving room to room," Mr. Carney said. There were two buildings in the compound, lined with high walls, housing three families, Mr. Carney said. The bin Ladens were in the taller of the two buildings and lived in the second and third floors. ...... it doesn't take a gun for someone to resist. .... U.S. forces did take evidence from the scene. The White House said they hope the evidence provides insight into any planned attacks, other high-value targets and about the al Qaeda network more broadly.Wall Street Journal: In Muslim World, Many Doubt bin Laden's Demise
Across the Muslim world, the killing of Osama bin Laden has unleashed a swirl of conspiracy theories, with many Pakistanis, Afghans and Arabs refusing to believe U.S. assurances that al Qaeda's founder is actually dead...... The White House is considering releasing photographs of the dead Al Qaeda leader. ...... "The Americans have not shown any credible evidence of Sheikh Osama's death, and his death has not been confirmed or denied by the sources close to Osama bin Laden," the Taliban said in their first official reaction to the killing. ....... In Abbottabad, many locals argue that Sunday's raid was a fake designed to embarrass Pakistan and bolster Mr. Obama's re-election chances. "They're just making it up. Nobody has seen the body," scoffed Owais Khan, a local lawyer. He argued bin Laden would never have chosen Abbottabad, a wealthy, army-dominated town just 40 miles from Pakistan's capital, as a hideout. ....... Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East, of course, are fertile grounds for conspiracy theories, especially ones that feature the U.S. or Israel as villains. It is still common to hear in Cairo, Kandahar or Karachi that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were carried out by the Bush administration to attain world domination; an alternative version blames the Israeli Mossad. ....... Perhaps nowhere in the Muslim world are the conspiracy theories about bin Laden's death becoming more fanciful than in Egypt, a country where credulous rumors spread like wildfire. Mohammed Ali, a 38-year-old bank manager and fluent English speaker, said he believed that bin Laden really died five years ago, and that the U.S. had been hiding the news "to continue taking money from Gulf countries and to keep everyone afraid." ....... In cafes in downtown Riyadh, bin Laden's birthplace, men Tuesday repeated another long-standing belief among some Arabs: that the terrorist mastermind never actually existed. "To be honest, I've never been convinced that there was such a person as Osama bin Laden," said Osama al-Obeid, a Saudi banker.Wall Street Journal: His 'Waziristan Mansion' Was No Cave
close enough to Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, to be a popular tourist getaway. It is located in a scenic valley surrounded by dramatic mountains. ...... the town of about 500,000 has seen an influx of jihadis of late. Residents spoke of seeing some Arabs in town. ...... Two other al Qaeda operatives of French origin were also recently arrested en route to the town ...... "One of the helicopters came crashing down after it was hit by fire from inside the compound," said Mohsin Khan, another local resident who said he saw the action from his house terrace. U.S. officials have confirmed that one helicopter in the operation didn't take off on the return flight. Residents said the wreckage was removed by local army troops who cordoned off the compound. ...... The sprawling compound spread over an acre of lush green farmland covered with eucalyptus trees was occupied by bin Laden at least since August of last year, according to intelligence reviewed by Pakistani officials. Residents said it had been occupied since 2005. ........ concrete walls some 14 feet high that are topped by barbed wire and contained security cameras. Some residents also claimed it had an underground area. ....... Some residents said the house was known in the area as "Waziristan Mansion" as it was owned by a man from Waziristan tribal region ....... Some Pakistanis living around the compound thought the activity there was unusual. Though residents couldn't see inside, they said they frequently saw one person entering the house, who gave contradictory stories about himself. At times, he said he was in the transportation business, at other times a contractor or a money changer. He introduced himself as Rashid, and they suspected he was from Waziristan. ....... From some 200 meters (660 feet) away the fortress-like building stood out from other surrounding buildings. The town's reaction was calm, if startled, Monday to find that bin Laden had been living there. Many residents said the first news they had of his presence in the town was television reports of his death. Some remained skeptical. ....... "Not only me but most of the people are stunned to learn the news that bin Laden was killed in today's operation," said Muhammad Jan, a fruit vendor. "I and most of the people still aren't ready to believe that such an important person was living—and subsequently killed—here because the city has no such examples in the past."The Guardian: 40 minutes of fighting, and then two fatal shots
Osama bin Laden's death was the denouement of a decade-long search for America's public enemy number one ...... The helicopters swooped in the dead of night, flying in formation across the lower ranges of the Himalayas, then dropping precipitously on their target, a three-storey house on an acre of land in a wealthy suburb of Abbottabad, the training ground of Pakistan's powerful military officer corps. ...... One hovered over the target house; al-Qaida militants fired on it with a rocket-propelled grenade. Then disaster struck: the chopper stalled and slumped towards the ground. ....... Thousands of miles away in the US, officials watching on live video feeds had a heart-stopping moment. Some thought of "Black Hawk Down" – the infamous 1993 debacle in Somalia that precipitated America's withdrawal from that country. But the pilot put his craft down safely and the Seals tumbled out, pressing towards their target ....... The Americans had been led there by one of Osama bin Laden's most trusted men: a courier, first identified by detainees at Guantánamo Bay through his nom de guerre. He was said to be protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged architect of the 9/11 attack. The Americans discovered his name four years ago, and discovered that he lived in the Abbottabad region with his brother two years ago. ........ Last August they narrowed his location to this compound in Abbottabad ...... At first the Americans were puzzled: the compound, built in 2005 and valued at $1m (£600,000), was no ordinary home. Perimeter walls up to six metres (18ft) high were topped with barbed wire, there was no internet or telephone connection and there were few windows. Oddly, the inhabitants burned their rubbish inside the compound instead of leaving it outside. ...... The neighbours knew the owners of the house – the courier and his brother, described as ethnic Pashtuns – as secretive types. They dispatched children to buy food at local shops, and although they regularly prayed at a local mosque, they didn't engage in small talk. ....... Salman Riaz, a film actor, said that five months ago he and a crew tried to do some filming next to the house but were told to stop by two men who came out. "They told me that this is haram [forbidden] in Islam," he said. ........ Monitoring the house with satellite technology and other spy tools, the CIA determined that a family was living in the house with the two men. Last February the CIA determined "with high probability" that it was Bin Laden and his clan. Officials scrambled to formulate a plan to kill him. ........ The first idea was to bomb the house using B2 stealth bombers dropping 2,000-pound JDAMs (joint direct attack munitions), according to ABC News. But Barack Obama rejected it ........ The Seal Team Six, officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and based in Virginia, held rehearsals at a specially constructed compound in early April. ........ Finally last Friday morning, with the eyes of the world glued on the royal wedding in London, he signed off on the air assault. ...... Obama handed control of the assault to Panetta – still CIA director until July – who transformed the conference room at its headquarters into a command centre from where he could be in constant contact with the Seal leaders – an unusual case of a civilian spy leading a military team. ....... The al-Qaida fighters holed up inside fought back, trading gunfire for nearly 40 minutes, as the US troops cleared the compound floor by floor ...... As the raiding party closed in on the last unsecured room in the compound, Bin Laden, who according to the White House had no weapon, was shot dead. ........ Before withdrawing, the Seals blew up the wreckage of the helicopter. An orange fireball lit up the night sky over Abbottabad. ....... Bin Laden's body was taken to the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the Arabian Gulf. ..... Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff to Bush's defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted. "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn." ........ Then Obama gave a press conference, and gave the news to the rest of the world. "No matter how long it takes," he said. "Justice will be done."The Guardian: Bin Laden's will says his children must not join al-Qaida
the will, marked "private and confidential" was dated 14 December 2001, three months after the 9/11 attacks, when US forces were hunting him in Afghanistan. ...... The four-page document, written on a computer and signed by "your brother Abu Abdullah Osama Muhammad Bin Laden," predicts that he would die by the "treachery" of those around him. ...... In the document, Bin Laden lists the assault on New York's twin towers in a sequence beginning with the suicide bomb attack on US marines in Lebanon in 1983, the killing of 19 US marines serving as UN peacekeepers in Somalia in 1993 and the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998. ...... he orders his wives not to remarry and urges his children not to join al-Qaida or go to "the front", citing the example of the seventh century Muslim Caliph Omar bin Khattab to his son Abdullah. Bin Laden also asked his children to forgive him for not having spent enough time with them. ...... "I have chosen a path fraught with dangers and endured hardships, disappointment and betrayal. If it wasn't for betrayal, things would be different today. ...... "As for you, my sons, forgive me if I failed to devote more of my time to you since I answered the call to Jihad." ....... He ends his will by advising "the mujahideen wherever they are" to suspend "the fight against the Jews and the Crusaders and start to purge your ranks of agents and defeatists."The Guardian: Osama bin Laden: Dead, but how did he hide so long?
Bin Laden was staying in a prominent million-dollar, high-security residence in an area full of soldiers and close to the country's premier military academy. ...... the presence of Bin Laden so close to the capital and just streets away from the principal training ground for the country's officer corps threatened to create a fresh rift in US-Pakistan relations. ....... . "I think the Pakistani army and intelligence have a lot of questions to answer given the location, the length of time and the apparent fact that this facility was actually built for Bin Laden and its closeness to the central location of the Pakistani army" ...... The US will step up pressure on Pakistan to hand over the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar and Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, if they are in Pakistan. The death of Bin Laden could also lead to a rethink of the scale of the US involvement in Afghanistan. ....... Obama will visit Ground Zero on Thursday ...... One of the troops shouted soon afterwards "Geronimo EKIA" – geronimo enemy killed in action – the station reportedChicago Tribune: Helicopter failure adds to tense moments of raid
About two dozen Navy SEALs and other U.S. commandos were supposed to rappel from two specially modified Black Hawk helicopters in the pre-dawn hours Monday in Pakistan, race into two buildings and kill or capture Osama bin Laden. But one chopper stalled as it hovered, unable to sustain its lift, and thudded into the dirt. Troops scrambled out. ....... Barack Obama and his war council watched nervously as intelligence feeds streamed in. The special forces team needed a rescue chopper. Gunfire was blazing around them. ...... If the raid went wrong, Obama would bear the blame. He had vetoed a plan to obliterate the compound with an airstrike. Obama wanted to be certain he had bin Laden, and finding proof in a smoking crater wasn’t guaranteed. ...... U.S. forces methodically swept through the compound, searching for their prey. Bin Laden and his family lived on the second and third floors of the largest structure ...... When the commandos found him, he was armed, and he resisted. They shot him in the head and chest. ..... The fighting lasted about 20 minutes. In 20 more, the military had flown in a backup helicopter. The commandos detonated explosives to destroy the crippled Black Hawk and departed. As they flew off, they carried with them the bloodied corpse of a tall man with a thick beard. They left behind the bodies of four other people killed in the raid. .......... Within hours, bin Laden’s remains had been given funeral rites designed by the military to be consistent with Muslim practices and dropped into the northern Arabian Sea from the hangar deck of the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier. ....... “We were able to get pieces of information from detainees,” a U.S. official said. “That took years, and these guys don’t give it up all willingly.” ...... The information enabled the CIA and other intelligence agencies to develop “a composite” of bin Laden’s courier network. ..... The break came in 2007. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the former operations chief for al-Qaida and self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, disclosed the nickname of a Pakistani man he said was bin Laden’s most trusted confidant and courier. ...... Confirmation came from Abu Faraj al-Libi, another captured al-Qaida leader, and other prisoners. .... It took the CIA two years to track the courier to Pakistan, and another two years to track him to a fortified compound in the city of Abbottabad..... built in 2005, and all the signs suggested it was designed as a private fortress. ...... “There wasn’t perfect visibility on everything inside the compound, but we did have a very good idea” of how many people lived there, how many women and children were in one of the families and other pertinent details ....... there was concern that obtrusive surveillance efforts would be discovered and cause him to flee. ...... , the SEALs team practiced the raid in early April, using a replica of the compound ...... Had the operation gone on Saturday as planned, it would have coincided closely with a NATO airstrike on a villa in Tripoli where Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi apparently had visited. Gadhafi escaped harm, but Libyan officials said the strike killed one of his sons and three grandchildren. ....... “It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday,” Brennan said Monday. “The minutes passed like days.” ...... The Pakistani military, which U.S. officials said was kept in the dark, scrambled aircraft in response to the firefight, but the low-flying U.S. helicopters quickly flew out of Pakistani airspace.Boston Globe: Al Qaeda deputies waiting in wings
potential retaliatory attacks as well as the rise of new leaders. ..... Although no terrorist leader today has the charisma or stature of bin Laden, the officials said, his deputies and affiliates have already been far more prominent in planning attacks and spreading the message of global jihad. ...... Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Pakistani Tehrik-e-Pakistan ...... with their own operational and funding structures. ..... the influence of Al Qaeda itself has been greatly diminished, even before bin Laden’s death, because the recent uprisings in the Arab world have proven that peaceful protesters can topple governments more effectively than suicide bombers can. Al Qaeda has played almost no role in the historic transformation sweeping across the region. ....... The group’s number three position has had to be replaced at least three times in recent years, Pakistani officials say, crippling bin Laden’s ability to operate. ...... When bin Laden formed Al Qaeda in 1988, he controlled everything, from recruitment to fund-raising to planning attacks ...... After the Sept. 11 attacks scattered the organization’s leaders, he had to step back from day-to-day management and rely more on deputies and affiliates around the world to carry out plots. ...... bin Laden functioned more like the chairman of a board than a field commander in recent years. ...... Bin Laden’s reputation as a spiritual leader created a cult of personality so strong that new terrorist recruits pledged allegiance not to Al Qaeda but to bin Laden himself. ....... The new face of the terror network could end up being a young preacher called Abu Yahya al-Libi, other specialists say. He is by far the most charismatic leader and has been instrumental in generating enthusiasm among young recruits. ...... “Yahya is way up there in terms of visibility and has surpassed Zawahri,’’ said Ben Venzke, chief executive of IntelCenter, a contractor that tracks Al Qaeda’s messages for the US military intelligence community. “He is a very significant figure. He has a lot of appeal and a lot of credibility.’’ ...... if bin Laden did not leave instructions detailing who his successor will be, competition might break out among the various lieutenants, which could further weaken the movement.San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area transit: BART, Muni increase security
Passengers on the Bay Area's busiest transit systems and at San Francisco International Airport may notice more police officers as the agencies take precautions against potential terrorist responses to the killing of Osama bin Laden....... many of the nation's large transit operators, including those in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, are taking precautions. ...... Both BART and Muni said the stepped-up patrols would continue indefinitely.San Francisco Chronicle: Al Qaeda's leadership, future uncertain
a potential contest for the network's leadership between leaders of the group's old guard and those heading newer, ambitious franchises in Africa and the Middle East ....... Zawahiri, however, is considered a polarizing figure within the top circles of al Qaeda and has long antagonized Islamic radicals from other factions. U.S. counterterrorism officials predicted he would have a much tougher time preserving unity within al Qaeda and attracting new followers........ Among other potential leaders are charismatic figures who head al Qaeda affiliates in places such as Yemen that are now regarded as even more dangerous than the one led by al Qaeda's central command. Over the past two years, the boldest attempted terrorist attacks have been carried out from Yemen, by a group whose leaders include the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. ...... The wave of populist uprising sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East unfolded without involvement by bin Laden and al Qaeda; even Islamist movements are calling for democracy rather than the Islamic emirates that bin Laden had long sought in the Arab world. ....... even among the group's supporters, the death of a charismatic leader such as bin Laden could make fundraising more difficult....... Nevertheless, bin Laden nurtured a constellation of al Qaeda franchises stretching from Africa to the Middle East, and linked by ideology and allegiance to his core values and tactics. Such franchises, say terrorism experts, were part of a grand plan by bin Laden to enlarge al Qaeda's reach and leave a self-sustaining legacy...... Such affiliates received little, if any, financial and material support from al Qaeda's central command in Afghanistan and Pakistan - or any directives. They operated independently, conducting their own fundraising, recruitment and strategies. Often, bin Laden and his associates would step in to offer rhetorical and theological encouragement....... . In Somalia, al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab is seeking to overthrow the struggling U.S.-backed transitional government and turn the region into a Taliban-like Islamic emirate. In North and West Africa, al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa murdered Westerners and staged suicide bombings. Kidnappings for ransom are growing, infusing large sums of cash into the group's coffers. The group is believed to have perpetrated last week's bombing of a popular cafe in Marrakesh that killed 16, mostly foreigners. ...... After bin Laden, perhaps the most charismatic member of al Qaeda's inner circle is Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan field commander and self-styled radical theologian who has starred in numerous propaganda videos that are popular with jihadi audiences. Libi became legendary among al Qaeda sympathizers after he escaped from a U.S. prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2005 and rejoined the network. ........ But it's al Qaeda's operatives in Yemen who have spawned the most concern among U.S. counterterrorism officials. Earlier this year, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, described the affiliate as posing "the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland." On Christmas Day 2009, the group dispatched a Nigerian man to try to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane headed to Detroit; last year, it tried to blow up Chicago-bound cargo jets with printer cartridges filled with explosives.San Francisco Chronicle: Bin Laden hideout raises questions over Pakistan
a small Pakistani city where three army regiments with thousands of soldiers are based not far from the capital - a location that is increasing suspicions in Washington that Islamabad may have been sheltering him. ....... Pakistani intelligence agencies are normally very sharp in sniffing out the presence of foreigners in small cities. ...... "Personally I feel that he must have thought it was the safest area," said Asad Munir, a former station chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency in the northwest. "Abbottabad is a place no one would expect him to live." ...... Suspicions that Pakistan harbors militants have been a major source of mistrust between the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, though the two agencies have cooperated in the arrests of al Qaeda leaders since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including several in towns and cities outside the border area. ...... "For years we have said that the fight against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and houses," said Karzai. "It is in safe havens, and today that was shown to be true." ..... The Pakistani Taliban, an al Qaeda-allied group behind scores of bloody attacks in Pakistan and the failed bombing in New York's Times Square, vowed revenge.San Francisco Chronicle: Bin Laden operation burnishes Panetta's CIA role
Sunday's successful raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan caps a two-year tenure for Panetta at the CIA before he heads to a new job as secretary of defense at the start of July. ....... The only leader they have ever known ..... The operation revealed a new level of coordination across the government's intelligence bureaucracy, whose reputation had been badly tarnished by the CIA's false assessment that late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, providing the basis for the U.S. invasion, and later by controversy over the alleged torture of terrorist suspects in secret prisons overseas....... When Panetta took the job as CIA director, he became one of the few spy chiefs who had no prior experience in intelligence. His chief expertise was the federal budget, having been the former chair of the House Budget Committee when he was a member of Congress. He served as head of the Office of Management and Budget for former President Bill Clinton before becoming Clinton's chief of staff. ...... Obama's choice of Panetta as CIA director was criticized at the time, including by Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feinstein said she thought the job better suited an "intelligence professional." ..... Her opinion had shifted completely by last week, when she called Panetta "the most skilled person in government," and credited him with restoring order and morale at the agency, proving "himself to be able to handle anything that comes at him." Panetta has won praise on both sides of the aisle for keeping Congress well briefed. .... Feinstein had been kept apprised of the bin Laden operation for months and accidentally pre-empted Obama's announcement that bin Laden was dead Sunday night at the end of a tribute to late political consultant Kam Kuwata.San Francico Chronicle: Obama expected to see bump from bin Laden killing
Already, Obama is leveraging the victory: Monday night, he told members of Congress at a bipartisan dinner to "harness some of that unity" the nation is sharing to address contentious domestic issues like the deficit. ..... Days after President George W. Bush announced in December 2003 that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been captured, his approval numbers jumped from 56 percent to 63 percent. But by late January 2004, they had dropped to 49 percent. ...... on the list of what voters consider the top problems facing the country, terrorism and national security lag far behind the economy and jobs ....... While Obama's poll spike may be fleeting, analysts say his shepherding of the high-stakes raid could have a more subtle, long-term effect in strengthening the president's image as a leader...... "It was a high-risk operation, and it was carried off flawlessly. ....... "But we are so far away from Election Day 2012," O'Connell said. "And another (terrorist attack) could lessen the impact of this." ....... Helping Obama's presidential chances is that the raid fulfilled a controversial promise he made during his 2008 presidential campaign, most prominently during his televised September 2008 debate with Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. .... "If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act," Obama said at the time, "then we should take them out." ....... On the 2008 campaign trail, GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, also a potential 2012 challenger, repeatedly ridiculed Obama's promise to track bin Laden through Pakistan as "invading the sovereign territory" of a "partner" on the war on terror. ...... A popular image online and on T-shirts Monday was one of Obama saying, "Sorry it took so long to get you a copy of my birth certificate. I was too busy killing Osama Bin Laden." ...... A tip that led to locating bin Laden in Pakistan is believed to have emanated from a Guantanamo detaineeThe New York Times: Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden
last July, Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar, Pakistan, and wrote down the car’s license plate. ..... The man in the car was Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month C.I.A. operatives would track him throughout central Pakistan. Ultimately, administration officials said, he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by tall security fences in a wealthy hamlet 35 miles from the Pakistani capital. ...... 79 American commandos in four helicopters descended on the compound .... A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program. ..... And just like that, history’s most expansive, expensive and exasperating manhunt was over. ...... an affirming moment that will enter the history books. .... Intelligence agencies eavesdropped on telephone calls and e-mails of the courier’s Arab family in a Persian Gulf state and pored over satellite images of the compound in Abbottabad to determine a “pattern of life” ...... the past few weeks were a nerve-racking amalgamation of what-ifs and negative scenarios. “There wasn’t a meeting when someone didn’t mention ‘Black Hawk Down’ ........ The failed mission to rescue hostages in Iran in 1980 also loomed large. ....... A “fight your way out” option was built into the plan, with two helicopters following the two main assault copters as backup in case of trouble. ...... Much of the time was spent in silence. Mr. Obama looked “stone faced” ...... Years before the Sept. 11 attacks transformed Bin Laden into the world’s most feared terrorist, the C.I.A. had begun compiling a detailed dossier about the major players inside his global terror network. ...... It wasn’t until after 2002, when the agency began rounding up Qaeda operatives — and subjecting them to hours of brutal interrogation sessions in secret overseas prisons — that they finally began filling in the gaps about the foot soldiers, couriers and money men Bin Laden relied on. ........ Prisoners in American custody told stories of a trusted courier. When the Americans ran the man’s pseudonym past two top-level detainees — the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed; and Al Qaeda’s operational chief, Abu Faraj al-Libi — the men claimed never to have heard his name. That raised suspicions among interrogators that the two detainees were lying and that the courier probably was an important figure. ....... By 2005, many inside the C.I.A. had reached the conclusion that the Bin Laden hunt had grown cold, and the agency’s top clandestine officer ordered an overhaul of the agency’s counterterrorism operations. ...... the National Security Agency began intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages between the man’s family and anyone inside Pakistan. From there they got his full name. ....... Last July, Pakistani agents working for the C.I.A. spotted him driving his vehicle near Peshawar. When, after weeks of surveillance, he drove to the sprawling compound in Abbottabad, American intelligence operatives felt they were onto something big, perhaps even Bin Laden himself. It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as his hiding place. Rather, it was a three-story house ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls, topped with barbed wire and protected by two security fences. He was, said Mr. Brennan, the White House official, “hiding in plain sight.” ......... “It was electric,” an administration official who attended the meeting said. “For so long, we’d been trying to get a handle on this guy. And all of a sudden, it was like, wow, there he is.” ...... weeks of tense meetings between Mr. Panetta and his subordinates about what to do next. ...... some C.I.A. clandestine officers worried that the most promising lead in years might be blown if bodyguards suspected the compound was being watched and spirited the Qaeda leader out of the area. ...... Those inside were so concerned about security that they burned their trash rather than put it on the street for collection. ...... three options: a helicopter assault using American commandos, a strike with B-2 bombers that would obliterate the compound, or a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch. ...... The Navy Seals team that would hit the ground began holding dry runs at training facilities on both American coasts, which were made up to resemble the compound. But they were not told who their target might be until later. ...... the C.I.A. had “red-teamed” the case — shared their intelligence with other analysts who weren’t involved to see if they agreed that Bin Laden was probably in Abbottabad. They did. ........ Obama spoke: “I’m not going to tell you what my decision is now — I’m going to go back and think about it some more.” But he added, “I’m going to make a decision soon.” ...... Sixteen hours later, he had made up his mind. Early the next morning, four top aides were summoned to the White House Diplomatic Room. Before they could brief the president, he cut them off. “It’s a go,” he said. ....... The next day, Mr. Obama took a break from rehearsing for the White House Correspondents Dinner that night to call Admiral McRaven, to wish him luck. ...... A staffer went to Costco and came back with a mix of provisions — turkey pita wraps, cold shrimp, potato chips, soda. ....... The goal was to get in and get out before Pakistani authorities detected the breach of their territory by what were to them unknown forces and reacted with possibly violent results. ........ no one had any clue Bin Laden was hiding in the quiet, affluent area. “It’s the closest you can be to Britain,” he said of their neighborhood. ...... The commandos found Bin Laden on the third floor, wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a shalwar kameez, and officials said he resisted before he was shot above the left eye near the end of the 40-minute raid. The American government gave few details about his final moments. “Whether or not he got off any rounds, I frankly don’t know,” said Mr. Brennan ....... By that point, though, the Pakistani military was scrambling forces in response to the incursion into Pakistani territory. “They had no idea about who might have been on there,” Mr. Brennan said. “Thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces.” ...... As they took off at 1:10 a.m. local time, taking a trove of documents and computer hard drives from the house, the Americans left behind the women and children. A Pakistani official said nine children, from 2 to 12 years old, are now in Pakistani custody. ..... Only a small group of people watching from one of the large elevator platforms that move aircraft up to the flight deck were witness to the end of America’s most wanted fugitive.New York Times: How Osama bin Laden Was Located and Killed
After nearly a decade of hunting Osama bin Laden, a breakthrough came in August of 2010 when Bin Laden’s most trusted courier was located and identified. What followed was eight months of painstaking intelligence work, culminating in a helicopter assault in Abbottabad, Pakistan by American military and intelligence operatives that ended in the death of Bin Laden. .... The raid of Bin Laden’s compound lasted about 40 minutes. He and his family had been living on the second and third floors of the main building, which was the last area to be cleared by American forces. Bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head in the final minutes of the gun battle. Three other men and a woman were also killed.Los Angeles Times: How Bin Laden met his end
The nail-biting moment, the period when absolute disaster loomed, came at the very start....... One chopper stalled as it hovered between the compound's high walls, unable to sustain its lift, and thudded into the dirt. ...... Half a world away in the White House Situation Room, the president and his war council crowded around a table covered with briefing papers and keyboards and watched nervously as video feeds streamed in. The special forces team needed a rescue chopper. Gunfire was blazing around them. No one wanted another "Black Hawk Down" debacle. ....... The extraordinary drama surrounding the killing of Bin Laden encompassed the White House, the CIA and other arms of America's vast national security apparatus. The tale is part detective story, part spy thriller. But the decade-old manhunt for the Al Qaeda leader ultimately came down to a three-story building on a dirt road in the Pakistani army town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad. ...... His wife, who called out Bin Laden's name during the fight, was wounded in the leg during the battle and may have tried to interpose herself between the troops and her husband, but Bin Laden was not hiding behind her ....... Within 20 minutes, the fighting had ended. In 20 more, the military had flown in a backup helicopter. The commandos questioned several people in the compound to confirm Bin Laden's identity, detonated explosives to destroy the crippled Black Hawk and then departed. As they flew off, they carried with them the bloodied corpse of the tall man with a thick beard. ........ the raiding party took "a large volume of information" from the compound, a U.S. official said, "so large that the CIA is standing up a task force" to examine it for clues. The material, which includes digital and paper files, could be a treasure trove of new intelligence about Al Qaeda, the official said. Among other things, officials hope the information will lead them to Al Qaeda's other leaders. ...... The Pakistani government, which had not been informed of the raid in advance, scrambled aircraft in response to the firefight, but the low-flying U.S. helicopters quickly flew out of Pakistani airspace. ...... Bin Laden had vanished after the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001. ..... "One courier in particular had our constant attention," a U.S. intelligence official said. Detainees "indicated he might be living with and protecting Bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location." ..... It took months to build a picture of who was living in the compound, but eventually the CIA concluded that one of the families was likely to include Bin Laden, several wives and children. ..... the intelligence finally coalesced in February. ..... "There was a body of intelligence brought" to Obama, a Pentagon official said, "but in the weeks and months beforehand, his personal attention pushed the case to a new level." ......... Obama met with his senior national security aides on Thursday to review three options: the commando raid, an airstrike, or a pause for further intelligence gathering. He went around the table of advisors and asked each to weigh in. ........ Half of those present supported the raid; the rest were divided between the other two choices ...... Obama then left the meeting without announcing his decision. ...... Friday morning .... "It's a go," the president said. ...... Saturday evening, the president grinned broadly and offered light remarks at the annual White House correspondents dinner at a hotel in Washington. He joked about releasing his birth certificate and poked fun at Donald Trump. ...... Comedian Seth Meyers quipped that Bin Laden was hiding in plain sight by hosting a C-SPAN show. The president had in fact spent much of the day being briefed on the operation. ...... "It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday," said Brennan, the president's Arabic-speaking counter-terrorism advisor. "The minutes passed like days." .... Brennan said Obama's reaction to the news was simple: "We got him."Los Angeles Times: Abbottabad residents startled by events
Perhaps nothing was as surprising in the hunt for Osama bin Laden as the last place he chose to hide. ...... The city of Abbottabad itself is known not for any connections to Islamic militants but for its mountain breezes, well-kept avenues and educational institutions, including Pakistan's most renowned academy for military officers. ....... Residents of the adjacent Bilal Town neighborhood acknowledge they were curious about what went on on the other side of the 15-foot-high walls topped with barbed wire. It appeared as a fortress with a white, two-story structure at its heart. ....... security cameras spied on anyone who approached. And except for a stout man driving a red van, they never saw anyone coming or going. ...... "It's shocking to realize there was an internationally known terrorist living here," said Saifullah Zarsheed, who lives a couple of hundred yards from the compound where Bin Laden was killed. "But when you look at the place, it was a very suitable place for him and his people." ...... dozens of soldiers could be seen walking in and around the site. ...... Abbottabad, a city of 500,000 people, has a look and feel that's light-years from the caves of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan, where Bin Laden first fled after the Sept. 11 attacks nearly a decade ago. Nor is it anything like the rugged terrain of Waziristan, the tribal border area where Al Qaeda had continued to plan and operate with the help of local Taliban militants — and where many people thought Bin Laden was hiding. ....... Abbottabad residents say proudly that their city doesn't know the sound of suicide bombings or the scourge of assassinations....... s a summer vacation destination far from the brutal heat of Karachi or Multan. ...... "Abbottabad is such a peaceful city — I can't ever recall a terrorist incident happening here, and this isn't a place where there ever has been any militant activity" ........ . Washington has long suspected that factions within Pakistan's security establishment were aware of his whereabouts and failed to act on that knowledge. ...... The fact that Bin Laden sought refuge in an urban setting reflects a recent change in strategy by militant leaders to leave strongholds in the tribal areas, which have been hit hard by America's campaign of drone strikes. Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, has increasingly become a hub for Afghan Taliban leaders. ...... Abbottabad residents said Monday that they had wondered often about the large compound and gossiped about who might live behind its high gray walls. ...... "We've been here for only a month, but neighbors who had been here for years told us they could never figure out who was living there," said a young man standing on the rooftop a distance from the compound. He declined to give his name. "This whole city is such a high-security zone. How could someone like that hide here?" ....... "Then suddenly there was a flash and a big bang," said an older man who lives in the neighborhood and spoke on the condition he not be named. "Everyone ran out of their houses." ....... In Abbottabad, residents expressed skepticism that Bin Laden's death would deal a major blow to Al Qaeda. In addition to targeting the West, the terrorist network has also helped Pakistani militant groups carry out attacks on Pakistani soil because it regards Islamabad as subservient to Washington. ....... "This won't make any difference," said Faheem Hamid, 24, a college student. "He was only one terrorist. Yes, he's killed, but anyone can replace him. Al Qaeda will still be there." ...... The Pakistani government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, hailed Monday's operation as "a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world." Speaking at the Assembly of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Abbottabad, Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a Zardari ally, told lawmakers: "Thank God we are rid of this scourge. Bin Laden was supplying our children in the Swat Valley with suicide jackets, guns and explosives." ....... But in the same chamber, Mufti Kifayetullah, a lawmaker with Islamist leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman's Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam faction, called on Muslims to regard Bin Laden as a hero. ..... "Today, Americans have killed a great hero of Islam," Kifayetullah said. "Americans should keep in mind that they have killed Osama, but they cannot eliminate his ideology."