Sunday, May 1, 2011

Obama: U.S. Has Body of Osama Bin Laden

Updated first four paragraphs at 3:45 a.m. Monday est

President Obama announced from the East Room of White House tonight that United States forces killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist group that carried out the ghastly terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. His body was later buried at sea.

The CIA operation was carried out Sunday by U.S. Navy SEALS, who secretly raided the compound by helicopter and killed Bin Laden, his son and others in a firefight, senior administration officials said a short while ago.

One of two helicopters used in the mission was destroyed by the SEAL team after it malfunctioned. The team then piled into one helicopter, along with Bin Laden's body, and evacuated the compound after detonating an explosive device.

The New York Times and others are reporting that U.S. Bin Laden's body was taken to Afghanistan for final identification and was later buried at sea.

Pakistan television showed video of the compound on fire.

"Justice has been done," Obama said in the historic announcement, cheered throughout Washington by Democrats and Republicans alike. There were celebrations outside the White House and at Ground Zero in New York City.

Obama called former President George W. Bush to inform him of the news. Bush congratulated Obama, as well as the men and women who have carried out the war on terrorism. Obama gave the green light for the mission on Friday. Very few U.S. officials knew of the operation. Not even the Pakistanis knew about the mission, informed of it only after it was concluded.

There was cooperation along the way with Pakistani authorities along the way, but did not know when or if the U.S. was going to act.

"Huge," one knowledgeable government source said.

Based on solid intelligence, the U.S. carried out the strike on Bin Laden while he was in a mansion with family outside of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

According to senior administration officials, the CIA learned of the compound owned by Pakistanis believed to be couriers for Bin Laden in 2010, but last September determined a "high-value target" was in compound, located in a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad, determining later it was Bin Laden.

The compound had 12-to-18-foot high walls, barbed wire, a living area for three families. The three story mansion was built in 2005 and stuck out -- or should have -- because of its size compared to other homes in the area -- it was eight times larger than anything around. The compound had no telephone or Internet connections.

U.S. military and diplomatic installations around the world have gone on a heightened state of alert in case of violence or a retaliatory strike by Al Qaeda. The State Department issued a travel warning for Americans.

A gathering group of people outside the White House could be heard chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, as CNN's Ed Henry filed his report shortly before Obama addressed the nation (I went down there for a few hours and the chants went on all night).

Almost 3,000 people were killed when four commercial airliners hijacked by Al Qaeda thugs crashed into the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, just across the Potomac in Virginia, and a field in Pennsylvania near the town of Shanksville.

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