Death of Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden, the former head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 am local time by Navy SEALs of the U. S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six). The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation. In addition to DEVGRU, participating units included the U. S. Army Special Operations Command’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and CIA operatives.
3]The raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was launched from Afghanistan.  After the raid, U. S. forces took bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan 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, also vowed retaliation against the U. S. 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 of Cuba and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of theHamas administration of the Gaza Strip.  Legal and ethical aspects of the killing, such as his not being taken alive despite being unarmed, were questioned by others, including Amnesty International.  Also controversial was the decision to not release any photographic or DNA evidence of bin Laden’s death to the public. 
On June 2, 2009, just over four months into his presidency, President Obama sent a memo to CIA Director Leon Panetta directing him to provide, within 30 days, a detailed operational plan for locating bin Laden and bringing him to justice.  Locating bin Laden See also: Location of Osama 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 urveillance on the compound beginning in September 2010. Bin Laden’s compound Main article: Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound View of the compound Built in 2004, the three-story compound was located at the end of a narrow dirt road.  Google Earth 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. 0 km) northeast of the city center of Abbottabad.  Abbottabad is about 100 miles (160 km) from the Afghanistan border on the far eastern side of Pakistan (about 20 miles (32 km) from India).
The compound is 0. 8 miles (1. 3 km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), a prominent military academy that has been compared with the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in the U. S. and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst 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 ft 4 in (193 cm) bin Laden.
There was no Internet or landline telephone service to the compound, and its residents burned their refuse, unlike their neighbors who set their garbage out for collection.  Local residents called the building the Waziristan Haveli, because they believed the owner was from Waziristan.  The compound was demolished in February 2012.  Planning and final decision The CIA briefed Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, 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 U. S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) to work with a CIA team at their campus in Langley, Virginia. 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. President 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.  President Obama met with the National Security Council 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 SecretaryRobert Gates 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 U. S. Air Force officers were tasked with exploring that option further.  The CIA was unable to rule out the existence of an underground bunker below the compound. Presuming that one existed, 32 2,000-pound (910 kg) bombs fitted with JDAM guidance systems would be required to destroy it.  With that amount of ordnance, at least one other house was in the blast radius. 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. The U. S. intelligence community also studied an option of hitting bin Laden with a drone-firedsmall tactical munition as he paced in his compound’s vegetable garden.  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 rehearsals of the raid in two locations in the U. S. —around April 10 at Harvey Point Defense Testing Activity facility in North Carolina where a 1:1 version of Bin Laden’s compound was built, and April 18 in Nevada.  The location in Nevada was at 4,000 feet (1,200 m) elevation—chosen to test the effects the ltitude would have on the raiders’ helicopters. Unfortunately for the raid team, the Nevada mock-up used chain-link fencesto simulate the compound walls, which left the U. S. participants unaware of the potential effects of the high compound walls on the helicopters’ lift capabilities.  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. 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 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 on April 26 in a C-17 aircraft, refueled on the ground at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, landed at Bagram Air 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. Most of the advisors in the meeting supported going forward with the raid. Only Vice President Biden completely opposed it. Gates advocated using the drone missile option, but changed his support the next day to the helicopter raid plan. 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. (Eastern daylight time), 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 theSituation Room to monitor the raid. They watched night-vision images taken from a Sentinel 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 the 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. 48] Execution of the operation Approach and entry Diagram of Osama bin Laden’s hideout, showing the high concrete walls that surround the compound The raid was carried out by approximately two dozen heliborne U. S. Navy SEALs from the Red Squadron of the Joint Special Operations Command’s U. S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). For legal reasons (namely that the U. S. was not at war with Pakistan), the military personnel assigned to the mission were temporarily transferred to the control of the civilian Central Intelligence Agency. 56] The DEVGRU SEALs operated in two teams and were reportedly equipped with Heckler & Koch 416 carbine military assault rifles and Heckler & Koch MP7 personal defense weapons (with attached suppressors), night-vision goggles, body armor and handguns.  According to The New York Times, a total of “79 commandos and a dog” were involved in the raid.  The military working dog was aBelgian 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”. 62] 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 classifiedhyperspectral imagers”.  The SEALs flew into Pakistan from a staging base in the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan after originating at Bagram Air Base in northeastern Afghanistan.  The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), a U.
S. Army Special Operations Command unit known as the “Night Stalkers”, provided the two modifiedBlack Hawk 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 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 for a “quick reaction force” (QRF). The Chinooks were equipped with M134 Miniguns 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. 48] The 160th SOAR helicopters were supported by multiple other aircraft, including fixed-wing fighter jets and drones.  According to CNN, “the Air Force 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-earthtechniques to reach the compound without appearing on radar and alerting the Pakistani military. The flight from Jalalabad to Abbottabad took about 90 minutes. 48] 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, 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. 48] 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.  Bin Laden killed The U. S. national security team gathered in the White House Situation Room to monitor the progress of Operation Neptune Spear. See also: The Situation Room (photograph) 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 Khalid, bin Laden’s courier (Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti), al-Kuwaiti’s brother Abrar, and Abrar’s 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. 3] His wife Mariam was allegedly shot and wounded in the right shoulder.  The courier’s male relative Abrar was shot and killed by the SEALs’ second team on the first floor of the main house. A woman near him, later identified as 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. 85] The interior of the house was pitch dark, because CIA operatives had cut the power to the neighborhood.  The SEALs encountered bin Laden on the third floor of the main building.  Bin Laden was “wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a kurta paijama”, which were later found to have €500 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. The SEALs quickly followed him into his room.
Inside the bedroom, bin Laden lay on the floor with a head wound as 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 two SEALs shot bin Laden in the chest with a H&K 416 using Navy M855 5. 56 mm rounds.  The SEAL team leader radioed, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo,” and then, after being prompted by McRaven for confirmation, “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 AKSU rifle and a Russian-made Makarov pistol, but according to his wife Amal, he was shot before he could reach his AKSU.  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.  As the SEALs encountered women and children during the raid, they restrained them with plastic handcuffs or zip ties. 59] After the raid was over, U. S. forces moved the surviving residents outside “for Pakistani forces to discover”.  The injured Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah continued to harangue the raiders in Arabic.  Bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter Safia was allegedly struck in her foot or ankle by a piece of flying debris.  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
USS Carl Vinson conducting flight operations in Persian Gulf (April 4, 2011) The raid was intended to take 40 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 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. 25] U. S. personnel recovered three AK-47s 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 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”.
Since the SEAL team now had only one helicopter, one of the two Chinooks held in reserve was dispatched to carry part of the team and bin Laden’s body out of Pakistan.  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 Carl Vinson 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 were performed aboard the Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea within 24 hours of bin Laden’s death. Preparations began at 10:10 am local time and at-sea burial was completed at 11 am. The body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet and placed in a weighted plastic bag. An officer read prepared religious emarks 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.  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 ft 4 in (193 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. 76] This later caused Obama to quip, “We donated a $60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure? “ •Facial recognition software: A photograph transmitted by the SEALs to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for facial recognition 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. 111] •DNA testing: The Associated Press and The New York Times 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 and swabs (probably buccal swabs) from the body to use for the DNA testing. 48] According to a senior US Defense Department official: “DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) analysis conducted separately by Department of Defense and CIA labs has positively identified Osama bin Laden. DNA samples collected from his body were compared to a comprehensive DNA profile derived from bin Laden’s large extended family. Based on that analysis, the DNA is unquestionably his. The possibility of a mistaken identity on the basis of this analysis is approximately one in 11. 8 quadrillion.  ” •Inference: Per the same Defense official, from the initial review of the aterials 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. “ 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… cont’d) President Obama remembered the victims of the September 11 attacks. He praised the nearly 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 U. S. 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. ” This remark book-ended President Bush’s statement to a joint session of Congress following the September 11 attacks that “justice will be done. “
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