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Flag of Pakistan
WASHINGTON – In the early morning hours of darkness yesterday, about 35 miles northeast of Islamabad, Pakistan, dozens of U.S. special operations members and CIA agents readied themselves aboard military helicopters for the operation of a lifetime.

U.S. intelligence officers had been gathering evidence since August that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was not in a cave along the U.S.-Pakistan border, as had become lore, but was living comfortably with his family and others in a $1 million compound in Abbottabad, a suburb of the Pakistani capital, Defense Department and CIA officials who spoke on background about the operation at the Pentagon said today.

Intelligence officers spent the next eight months gathering information, which flowed heavily early this year, in part from detained fighters with the Afghanistan insurgency, they said. “The intelligence on the compound was shared with no one outside the U.S. government, and only a small number inside,” an intelligence official said.

President Barack Obama “pushed this to an actionable level,” a senior defense official said, holding numerous meetings with his national security team to consider all possible scenarios.

The special operations team, meanwhile, used its intelligence information to train for the operation, including developing contingency plans for anything they could think of that might not go as planned. With no one other than a small group of U.S. national security officials aware of the operation, officials said, the team was flown in to take bin Laden dead or alive.

Officials would not say how the forces got inside the compound, which has walls that range from 10 to 18 feet high around the perimeter, are topped with barbed wire and cover an acre of land. Once inside the triangular-shaped fortress, the team engaged in a firefight that killed two men who lived there in separate, smaller homes outside the three-story home of bin Laden and his family, officials said. The men are believed to have been brothers; one owned the property and was a courier for bin Laden, deputy national security advisor John O. Brennan said later at a White House briefing.

As expected, officials said, bin Laden resisted capture and was killed in the firefight with U.S. forces on the third floor of the home. Bin Laden’s adult son and a woman believed to be his wife also were killed in the shootout, and two women were wounded, they added.

U.S. forces were in the compound for about 40 minutes and took no casualties, officials said. During that time, they also seized numerous items that are being investigated, they said.

Obama and his national security team anxiously monitored the operation in real time, Brennan said.

“The minutes passed like days,” he said. “The president was very concerned about the security of our personnel. Clearly, it was very tense. A lot of people were holding their breath, and there was a fair degree of silence as we got the updates.” Technical problems with one of the helicopters added to the tension, he said.

After the U.S. team was safely out of the country, officials said, Obama and other members of the national security team began calling government leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan and members of Congress.

“The accomplishment that these very brave personnel from the U.S. government were able to do yesterday is very significant” to the broader effort against terrorism, Brennan said. “This is decapitating the head of the snake. This is something we’ve been after for 15 years. We are going to try to take advantage of this opportunity we have to demonstrate to the Pakistani people and others that al-Qaida is a thing of the past.”

An intelligence official who spoke to Pentagon reporters on background said the operation demonstrated “the tremendous partnership between the CIA and the U.S. military since 9/11.”

As intelligence allowed them to piece together details of the compound and its occupants, he said, it became clear bin Laden “was more or less living in plain sight” while al-Qaida’s lower level operatives “are living in dire conditions.”

“You have to wonder what they think today when they see that their leader was living high on the hog,” he said.

May 2, 2011: By Lisa Daniel- American Forces Press Service
Published in Worldwide

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Osama bin Laden
WASHINGTON – A senior national security official today provided insight into the decision process leading to the raid by U.S. special operations forces that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan yesterday.
Published in Daily News

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Spc. Jason Christensen, right, with B Troop, 6th “Saber” Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, fires his weapon during the ‘Saber Shooter’ competition April 2, 2011, at the Caughman Range on Camp Liberty, Iraq, while Maj. Ronald MacKay, the range officer-in-charge, records the time it takes Christensen to engage his targets. The competition measured how effectively an individual Soldier could accurately engage multiple targets in a timely manner while maneuvering and changing out ammunition. (U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Daniel Elmblad, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C)
BAGHDAD– The 212th Military Police Company, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, graduated 101 Iraqi Police officers from the Criminal Justice Center at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
Published in Feature Stories

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An Iraqi Army mechanic loosens the lug nuts on a Humvee tire as he and his team races to finish first and claim the title of ‘Best Mechanic Team’ during a maintenance rodeo held by the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, April 27, 2011. The competition tested IA skills learned over the past 10 months. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Tanya Thomas, 4th AAB, 3rd Inf. Div., USD-C Public Affairs)
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – Wrenches turned quickly and so did the second hand on the clock as Iraqi Army Soldiers showcased their vehicle maintenance skills while competing for their chance at the ‘Best Mechanic Team’ in Anbar, Iraq.
Published in Daily News

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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously today to the families of two soldiers who served in the Korean War.
Published in Domestic

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Flag of Taliban
WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida still is dangerous, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said today in a letter to the agency’s employees.
Published in Recent Features

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WASHINGTON – A combined force killed numerous armed fighters in a gun battle yesterday in the Doshi district of Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, military officials reported.
Published in Recent News

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Osama bin Laden
WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden received a Muslim ceremony as he was buried at sea, a senior defense official said here today.
Published in Daily News

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Navy Seaman James Q. Beheler, a corpsman with the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, puts a bandage on an Afghan boy’s leg at Zagrano Bando School, April 14, 2011. Beheler noticed the boy was wearing a makeshift bandage after being bitten by a dog the previous day, and he changed the boy’s bandage to help in preventing infection. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Deployments often afford service members an opportunity to experience situations and perform duties outside of their comfort zone. One person who has broadened his skill set during his tour in Afghanistan is Navy Seaman James Q. Beheler.
Published in Face of Defense

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Spc. Bince Miller and Spc. David Quintanilla, both from Bravo Company 640th Aviation Support Battalion, play a round of foosball at the Walker Center at Camp Taji, Iraq on May 3, 2011. (Photo by Spc. Matthew Wright, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade)
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Being in theater in Iraq can put a lot of pressure on Soldiers. On constant alert and putting in long work hours means there is little personal time, but the Army does offer Soldiers places to unwind and forget, for a moment, where they are.
Published in Press Releases - Iraq
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