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Death of Osama bin Laden

Barack Obama

Death of Osama bin Laden: Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States who has served in office since January 20, 2009. One of the important events during his presidency was the death of Osama bin Laden.

 Definition and Summary of the Death of Osama bin Laden
Summary and definition:
Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011 by United States Navy SEALs when they overtook a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, an affluent suburb near Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and many other acts of terrorism from his headquarters in Afghanistan.

He was nearly captured during the Afghanistan War but managed to escape into Pakistan on December 16, 2001. After a decade long manhunt he was finally located in Pakistan where he met his death. On the same day, 2 May 2011, US President Barack Obama addressed the Nation to announce the death of Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man.

What was the date of the death of Osama bin Laden? The death of Osama bin Laden was Sunday May 2, 2011

Where was the death of Osama bin Laden?  The death of Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad, an affluent suburb just 35 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

Who was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden? The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation by United States Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group who were responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden.

The Compound
The large compound measured 38,000 square foot and had unusually high, concrete walls, some up to 18 feet high, that were topped by an additional 2 feet of barbed wire.

The compound was six years old. There were few windows and it was impossible to see inside the house from outside, or from above. There were two security gates and security cameras.

The family lived in the second and third floors of the house. The third-floor balcony had an unusual 7ft privacy wall.

There were no phone or internet connections and all trash was burned on site in an area within the compound. Within the compound was a vegetable garden and space for 100 chickens, rabbits and a cow.

Osama bin Laden Death: The Compound
The high security compound, and site of the death of the Al-Qaeda leader, housed three families. Ibrahim Ahmed, his brother Abrar and their families occupied the ground floor of the House. Osama bin Laden and his family, consisting of his three wives, a young man, and 10 or more children,  lived on the second a third floors of the house. The compound was located in the affluent suburb Abbottabad, just 35 miles from  Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The residence was known locally as the Waziristan Haveli (haveli means "mansion" and Waziristan is a region in Pakistan).

Facts about Death of Osama bin Laden
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Death of Osama bin Laden.

History: The Saudi Arabian multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden became the leader of the radical Islamic terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda in 1989.

History: Originally based in the Sudan, the Al-Qaeda terrorists relocated to Afghanistan in 1996 where Osama bin Laden began to forge close links with the Taliban, another hard-line Sunni fundamentalist movement wih a large Islamic militia.

History: The 9/11 terrorist attacks of Tuesday September 11, 2001 against the United States was masterminded by Osama bin Laden and perpetrated by members of Al-Qaeda.

History: Following the 9/11 attacks President George H Bush began the  'War on Terror' demanding the extradition of Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan. The Taliban refused the demand and the Afghanistan War began on  October 7, 2001 as the US and British bombing campaign targeted the Taliban's military forces and the Al-Qaeda training camps.

History: Osama bin Laden went into hiding but was tracked to the well equipped, multi-storied, Tora Bora cave complex in the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan. He narrowly escaped capture and managed to escape into Pakistan on December 16, 2001.

Osama bin Laden disappeared for the next nine and a half years and became the world's most wanted man until his death on May 2, 2011. A US reward of $25 million was offered for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the notorious leader of Al-Qaeda and his acts of international terrorism.

The CIA, the FBI and other intelligence agencies worked for nearly ten years to locate Osama bin Laden. There are conflicting reports on how he was located. Some say it was a Pakistani informant, whilst other reports more strongly suggest it was a result of US intelligence reports and the tracking of an important Al-Qaeda courier.

Osama bin Laden was careful to evade capture. He did not use and technical equipment such as cell phones or Internet links that might reveal his location. Instead he made use of trusted couriers to distribute his letters and occasional video and audio pronouncements.

The name of an important courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, was revealed during the controversial interrogations of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. It was the breakthrough that ultimately led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

It took the CIA five years to learn the real name of the courier as Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed. Armed with the cell phone number of the courier the US was able to track him to his residence at a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The CIA concluded that the Abbottabad compound was "custom built to hide someone of significance". Using intelligence reports, stealth drones and satellite photographs the CIA sought to identify all of the inhabitants living in the fortified compound in Abbottabad.

The photographs showed repeated images of a tall, thin man wearing  traditional Pakistani attire and prayer cap taking regular walks around the vegetable garden. The man came to be known as "The Pacer". 

The angle from which the photos were taken made it impossible to get a clear look at the man’s face but John Brennan, head of the CIA’s Counter­terrorism Center, believed he knew the identity of  "The Pacer"  - the man had the same walk as Osama bin Laden.

The clues mounted up; the tall, thin "Pacer", the size of the family the high security compound and the connection with the trusted courier.

By early March, 2011 the CIA had determined that the Abbottabad compound definitely held a “high-value target” and that he was most likely to be Osama bin Laden.

The decision was made to mount a helicopter raid on the compound. The operation to  kill or capture the Al-Qaeda leader took months of top secret planning and rehearsal. President Barack Obama formally gave the go-ahead for the mission on the morning of Friday 29 April, 2011.

May 2, 2011 provided the opportunity of a moonless night on which to mount the raid on the compound. At 11 P.M. local time 23 Navy Seals in two stealth Black Hawks,  accompanied by a back-up team of 24 Seals in three Chinook helicopters, lifted off from an airfield at Jalalabad in US occupied Afghanistan  to fly 135 miles to the Abbottabad compound of which 120 miles were in Pakistan airspace.

President Barack Obama and his closest advisers were gathered in the White House situation room to monitor progress of the raid. CIA Director Leon Panetta reported progress from the nearby command centre at the CIA headquarters.

On board the two Black Hawks, were 23 United States Navy SEALs, a translator and a Belgian Malinois tracking dog called Cairo. Three of the Seals were specifically tasked to seek out Osama bin Laden.

Operation Neptune Spear: The plan was for one of the Black Hawk helicopters to hover over the house in the compound allowing the Seals to clamber down ropes onto the roof. The second helicopter was to drop its team into the grounds of the compound.

Operation Neptune Spear: In order to attract minimal attention, it was planned for the two Black Hawks to join the back-up Chinook helicopters in a deserted area just 10-minute flight from the compound, and return to collect the Seals when the mission was completed.

Despite the meticulous planning, Operation Neptune Spear began to go wrong almost as soon as the helicopters reached the compound.

CIA Director Leon Panetta later said that he, and those in the White House situation room, were in the dark for "around 20-25 minutes" as to what was actually going on in the compound.

The Black Hawk helicopter hovering over the roof of the house lost its lift power as it began to rapidly jerk around in the heat-thinned air. The pilot was forced to make a hard landing inside the compound, but its tail and rotor blade got caught on one of the high walls.

The second Black Hawk immediately landed outside the walls. The Seals scrambled out of the helicopters. They had lost the element of surprise and had no alternative but to blast their way into the compound to get to the main house.

Ibrahim Ahmed opened fire and he and his wife were killed in the returning fire. The Seals moved into the main building and Abrar Ahmed and his wife Bushra were killed on the ground floor of the house.

The Seals made their way up the stairs where they met Osama bin Laden's adult son, Khalid Bin Laden, who was shot and killed.

Three Seals reached the top floor of the house where they found Osama bin Laden. His wife Amal shouted and moved in front of her husband trying to protect him.  She was pushed aside and Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by one bullet above the left eye and another to the chest.

Following the death of the Al-Qaeda leader, photographs were taken of his body. One of the Seals radioed his commander with "Geronimo EKIA". Geronimo was the code name for Osama bin Laden and the military term "EKIA" stood for "Enemy killed in action".

The message of the death was relayed to the White House where President Obama is said to have received the news with the terse, abrupt comment "We got him".

The Seals began to collect documents and computer harddrives from the compound as Osama bin Laden's body was loaded on to the remaining Black Hawk helicopter. One of the back-up Chinooks flew in to collect the team from the damaged helicopter.

The remaining inhabitants, a group of three women and 13 children, two girls and 11 boys were bound with plastic ties.

The Seals destroyed the damaged stealth helicopter with explosives. The tail section of the top secret modified helicopter survived the explosion revealing modifications to muffle noise and reduce the chances of detection by radar.

The Navy Seals left the compound for the US air base in Bagram, Afghanistan. The body of Osama bin Laden was then flown to the USS Carl Vinson, a US aircraft carrier in the north Arabian sea. His body was prepared for burial "in conformance with Islamic precepts and practice", placed in a weighted bag and dropped into the water from the deck of the vessel.

The raid took 40 minutes. There were no deaths or injuries to the Navy Seals. Besides the death of Osama bin Laden four other people in the compound were killed and there were minor injuries to other inhabitants.

On the same day of the raid, 2 May 2011, President Obama addressed the Nation to announce the death of the world's most wanted man.

President Obama said "...The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al-Qaeda. Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad..."

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