Monday, 02 May 2011 10:01
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. â€œThe intelligence on the compound was shared with no one outside the U.S. government, and only a small number inside,â€ an intelligence official said.
President Barack Obama â€œpushed this to an actionable level,â€ 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 Ladenâ€™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.
â€œThe minutes passed like days,â€ he said. â€œThe 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.â€ 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.
â€œThe accomplishment that these very brave personnel from the U.S. government were able to do yesterday is very significantâ€ to the broader effort against terrorism, Brennan said. â€œThis is decapitating the head of the snake. This is something weâ€™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.â€
An intelligence official who spoke to Pentagon reporters on background said the operation demonstrated â€œthe tremendous partnership between the CIA and the U.S. military since 9/11.â€
As intelligence allowed them to piece together details of the compound and its occupants, he said, it became clear bin Laden â€œwas more or less living in plain sightâ€ while al-Qaidaâ€™s lower level operatives â€œare living in dire conditions.â€
â€œYou have to wonder what they think today when they see that their leader was living high on the hog,â€ he said.
May 2, 2011: By Lisa Daniel- American Forces Press Service
Published in Worldwide
Monday, 02 May 2011 09:49
WASHINGTON â€“ 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.
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 09:07
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Published in Feature Stories
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 08:20
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Monday, 02 May 2011 08:24
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Published in Domestic
Monday, 02 May 2011 08:09
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Published in Recent Features
Monday, 02 May 2011 08:05
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Published in Recent News
Monday, 02 May 2011 08:00
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Monday, 02 May 2011 07:54
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Published in Face of Defense
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 07:46
CAMP TAJI, Iraq â€“ 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