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Osama Bin Laden killed in Pakistan by US forces

I actually enjoyed writing that headline.   It’s about time.  I’ll also admit I was wrong when I continued to contend that he’d been killed early on in Tora Bora.  Events, or lack of them perhaps, had led me to that conclusion.

This is going to make a fascinating book by someone because it sounds like one of those intel coups a long time in the making (Reuters says the trail was picked up about 4 years ago) and finally culminating in a successful raid in which bin Laden was killed.

He apparently was living in what one described as a “mansion” (a large 3 story structure) at the end of a narrow dirt road in a town in NE Pakistan (Abottobad) which is almost due east from Kabul.  Not the tribal lands to the SE, but in an area well under control of the Pakistani government and very near the Pakistani military academy.

"For some time there will be a lot of tension between Washington and Islamabad because bin Laden seems to have been living here close to Islamabad," said Imtiaz Gul, a Pakistani security analyst.

Indeed.  Apparently the compound had an 18 foot high security wall, with other interior fencing, two entrances and no phone or internet connection.

The operation included CIA and Special Ops folks in 4 helicopters (one of which crashed due to mechanical problems). 

What got us on the trail? 

"Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with or protected by bin Laden," a senior administration official said in a briefing for reporters in Washington.

That’s right, interrogation of detainees.  They identified a particular man as a very highly placed and trusted courier of bin Laden’s and security services attempted and successfully did follow him to the compound in Pakistan.  Initially the assessment only stated that the compound probably housed high-value targets but eventually the operatives concluded that there was a very good possibility it also housed Osama bin Laden.

Apparently when the raid began, OBL resisted and paid the price.  Reports say he was shot in the head.  Note the odd phrasing on this Obama quote announcing the death:

"A small team of Americans carried out the operation," Obama said. "After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

“After” the firefight they killed OBL?  I’m assuming he meant “during” a firefight, but hey, you never know.  One thing that is obvious is a dead bin Laden is preferable to a live one.  In fact, they’re doing DNA testing and running his image through face recognition software for a positive ID and then dumping, er ,burying his body at sea (the thinking  being his grave cannot become a martyr’s shrine).  It is also reported that a son and two other, plus a women one of those brave guys used as a shield were also killed.

The operation took 40 minutes.

Congrats to the intel and SOF folks who carried this off.  Heck of a job.

~McQ

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37 Responses to Osama Bin Laden killed in Pakistan by US forces

  • After almost ten years… SUH-WHEEET!

    McQ… burying his body at sea (the thinking  being his grave cannot become a martyr’s shrine). 


    Yeah, I guess that makes sense.  The “Bricktop” option would have been preferable, but you can’t have everything, can you?

    • Unfortunately it allows claims of he’s still alive or he was killed early to be myths that can’t be disproved by digging up the body.

      • Michael Yon is asking that photos be released to “break the cult of Usama”

    • Politico is saying that the burial at sea was a concession to Islam, and a fluck up.
      Me, I would have had him sewn in pigskin and buried at the cornerstone of ANY 9-11 monument.
      But I am harsh…

  • My concern is that I believed we could have snagged Bin Laden earlier, but we were afraid to destabilize Pakistan, burn our bridges with them, or both.
     
    I believe radicalized Islam would have its strongest public support in Pakistan if it was to take over there.  And they have nukes.
     
    The question is was allowing Bin Laden to be alive but significantly muted the compromise?   Or could we really never find him until suddenly now, just months before the intended draw down.

    • They had to watch the house. They had to do it without Pakistani help, most likely. So it took some time. I doubt the Osamas were wandering around the town much.
      Also, if Obama could have done this safely before 2010 elections, I think he would have. No one is going to delay this and miss Osama. (By delay, I mean deliberate delay not the usual slow as molasses CYA stuff.

  • The reports seem to indicate that the US didn’t know for sure that UBL was in the house beforehand, but thought a TBD high-value target was there.

    Yesterday Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual on Twitter) was just a “an IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains”, specifically Abbottabad, northern Pakistan. The IT contractor and graduate of Preston University (which would account for his excellent British-sounding English) also says he’s a ‘startup specialist’ on his LinkedIn profile. But today he will become known as the guy who, while live-tweeting a series of helicopter flypasts and explosion, unwittingly covered the US forces helicopter raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound

    .

  • Opinions on O’s speech?  My take:
     
    It began well enough, and parts were well-phrased, but he couldn’t resist saying “I” where any other president would have  said “we”.  The only time a leader should say “I” is when he’s taking blame for a botched operation.
     
    Also, it seemed that the longer it went on, the more disjointed it became.  It’s as if there was no coherent theme.  The sentences didn’t flow.  He could have made a bigger impact with a short statement of a few sentences, along the lines of Eisenhower’s statement re: Germany’s surrender.  (Look it up, kids.  I can’t do EVERYTHING for you…)
     
    Further, did anyone notice that he finally admitted that we’re at war with someone besides Libya?  That’s gonna tick off the left.

    • Drudge is saying this was an explicit kill mission.  How do you say that without being at war and claiming he was command and therefore fair game.  Takes the whole wind out of the ‘criminal’ treatment of terrorism.  Or is it ok to execute someone without a trial for a crime but not to detain them. 

    • There have been reports that the delay from 10:30PM to 11:35PM were due to Obama writing the speech himself.
      I went to bed at 11:30 disgusted that if this had been an actual emergency, like nuclear missiles heading for the US, that we would all be dead or injured before Obama got the teleprompter loaded.

      • I’m going to cut the President some slack here.  Reports are that the reason it took so long form 10:30 to 11:30 was two part: 1st, the speech needed to be written (understandable) and 2nd he called President Bush to inform him.  I thought that, in particular, was very gentlemanly of him.

      • I went to bed at 11:30 disgusted that if this had been an actual emergency, like nuclear missiles heading for the US, that we would all be dead or injured before Obama got the teleprompter loaded.
         
        I too would have been disgusted.  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.  So you can relax.
        I was sober last night, and I remember the news that Obama was to come on and give a statement.  There was no alert to the statement being an emergency – and I was cruising the news channels and checking the websites.
        I’m sure you’ve squirreled away enough hatred for Obama to last you two lifetimes, but do you have to eat those nuts about everything!?

    • The Atlantic has one writer claiming this is “Obama’s Moment”
      Now, I give the president full credit, but this is like Truman dropping the A-bomb.
      It wasn’t started on Jan. 20, 2009, despite the media’s little attempts to put in their stories that Obama told Panetta killing Osama was #1 priority. As if Bush was incurious about killing Osama. This was probably the easiest decision ever made by a president.
      Still, Obama did the right thing. Good for him!

  • “After” the firefight they killed OBL?  I’m assuming he meant “during” a firefight, but hey, you never know.

    It may just mean they had to fight through a lot of folks to get to him.  I doubt Osama was manning the front lines.

  • Well, for right now the air I’m breathing has a, certain freshness to it. I like it.

  • Thoughts:

    -THANK YOU GOD, ROT IN HELL OSAMA

    - Congrats to our forces who carried this out.  Those men are like Jedi knights. 

    - Congratulations to Pres. Obama.  I wish it was Bush who was able to do this but credit where due.

    - Who’s mansion was it?  Who in Pakistan was sheltering him?  I WANT THEM GIVEN TO US FOR EXECUTION.

  • Congrats to the troops who completed this mission.
    I’m sure now Ayman al-Zawahiri the Al Qaeda second-in-command will be moved to the top of the seek and destroy list.  And rightfully so.

  • Wonder if OBL was weighted head down?

  • Yippee! Best news I’ve had all year!  Congrats and thank you to the troops involved in the mission.  Kudos to the President and his Security team.

  • I started yelling at the TV last night when Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd started to make the point that yesterday was the 8th anniversary of the “Mission Accomplished” thing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Only a partisan hack,like Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, would have spent more than two seconds on this old meme.

    • And “Mission Accomplished” was from the crew of the USS Lincoln, who had just completed an extended deployment.
      Of course, the brain-dead Mitchell couldn’t possibly know that fact with her head up Obama’s anal cavity.

  • Congrats to the intel team, and my appreciation for the pointy end of the spear guys is beyond words.
    As for OBL – I’m quite happy he’s now sleeping with the fishes, and yeah, I hope they weighted him so, even as I type this, he’s wobbling back and forth in the gentle currents, feet towards the surface and head and shoulders in the mud.
     
     

  • “That’s right, interrogation of detainees” Are you implying that some illegally held detainees at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp were deprived of their UN granted rights to more than three flavors of ice cream and asked several times for information? Why that’s inhumane!!

  • “After” the firefight they killed OBL?  I’m assuming he meant “during” a firefight,”

    Just part of that legendary Obama eloquence. I am sure he didn’t mean to state that our forces murdered a helpless prisoner.

  • I am relieved, and frankly, I’m channeling Carly Simon … You’re So Vain and Nobody Does It Better … both so ironic and both so satisfyingly apropos. Click on over after work and make sure you have something expensive “on the rocks” in hand. Not only do you take a trip down memory lane, you get to do in style …
     
    Yet, again, I propose the following question “Whither US foreign policy?”
     
    I immediately wondered as I listened to the President speak as the President of the United States (for once, and for the first time by my score card, by the by) about sending out a “posse” to “capture or kill”, where do we go from here?
     
    Clearly, OBM was a living artifact. OBM was an artless dodger. I will say he was a damned good dodger to elude us for so long thanks to so much “unsolicited” help. … Just my call.
     
    Now, the genuine ugly is in the picture: nation building.
     
    My sense is that “nation building” will continue of a sort deep into the times after our distant deaths; the many forces on the ground from Europe and the US will remain. My call is that the “German contingent” will not fade any more than the Poles or NGOs or the whomever.
     
    Af-Pak is the world’s crossroad.
     
    As far as I can see it, India is the only mature thinker in the region. The Russians have every reason to think broadly but are governed badly by a set that is nothing more than cleptocrats. China does have the historical vision but not in this day. They are goofing around with politics and wealth and foreign policy and why they have not figured out why they need to be incredibly prudent. Predictable, really. Their egos, cumulatively, almost match the Donald. … Personally, I liked the Donald smack-down with regard to the birther canard. Splendid showmanship.
    This really is “outlaw country” and like it or not we are the interstitial grease that keeps things from “frictating” and frying.
     
    Obama scored a clean kill. He gets a bounce. … I just don’t know how long he can dribble that particular bounce.
     
     
     

    • Obama scored a clean kill. He gets a bounce. … I just don’t know how long he can dribble that particular bounce.

      Until you go out and spend $55 to fill your gas tank.

      • Bingo – that’s how quickly we’ll be back in “what has he done for me today” mode.
         
        NO ONE is going to pull into the Quik-Trip and say ‘Dammit!  cost me $65.00 to fill my damned tank!  15 lousy gallons!…..    >insert long thoughtful soul searching pause here<   “…but, President Obama DID get Bin Laden, so, I guess it’ll be okay”.
         
        Not. Going. To. Happen.
         
         

  • I see Musharraff has the temerity to criticize our actions.  Now maybe he HAS to do so given the politics in the region, but the fact is someone high on the food chain there was keeping Bin Laden in style.

    So maybe he should shut the eff up.

  • First, plaudits and accolades to the special ops folks on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan who pulled this off.
    Second, all due respect and congratulations to the President for taking the risk.
    I’m content to let time reveal the facts of the matter. I’ve already read and seen manifestations of what I call “dueling narratives”. Reporters and pundits attempting to fit “known facts” into a grand theme. Speculation is a game anyone can play, which is why they invented Gresham’s Law!
    I’m curious about one thing. How exactly do you fly two Blackhawks and two Chinooks across Pakistan (whether they originated in Afghanistan or inside Pakistan) in the middle of the night without coordinating with the Pakistani government? I’m sure we will get an answer at some point, but it does seem odd that nobody has asked that officially.
    I’m not necessarily persuaded that the Pakistanis knew Bin Laden was there. The idea that he could hide “in plain sight” like that has a surface appeal when you consider the reputation of the government, the military and the ISI. But one thing governments value is deniability. This is not like Cambodia, where thousands of NVA troops and dozens of bases were officially non-existent to the Cambodian government. It’s not beyond belief that a small party of people could operate clandestinely in an area where everybody minds their own business because that is the best policy. If Bin Laden never had a need for support from the Pakistanis, it’s possible he could blend into the background, just another private family. It would certainly be more secure for him. The idea that any government could know everything (even the most totalitarian police state) is more a perception than a reality. But who knows?
    I strongly agree with the point made above. Teams succeed. Leaders take personal responsibility for failure. At least that’s the way it used to be. It’s graceful to celebrate the success of your team. Graceless to focus on your own involvement. But then that’s the way I was raised and trained. Times were different then.

  • $1MM for that house and compound? Somebody got ripped off. Also I wonder about the 40 minutes of battle. Just how many guards were there?

  • American forces were led to Osama bin Laden by his most trusted courier, a Kuwaiti-born man named Sheikh Abu Ahmed, three US officials revealed.
    Ahmed was a shadowy figure for US intelligence, someone it took many years to identify. For a long time, intelligence officials knew him only by his “nom de guerre”, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
    The first indications about his significance came from CIA detainees shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
    Ahmed and his brother were killed in the same pre-dawn raid on Monday that left bin Laden dead.

    … and …

    The [WikiLeaks] file suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA. Ghul was never sent to Guantanamo but was believed to have been taken to a prison in Pakistan.
    He told the Americans that al-Kuwaiti travelled with bin Laden. The file states:
    “Al-Kuwaiti was seen in Tora Bora and it is possible al-Kuwaiti was one of the individuals [al-Qahtani] reported accompanying UBL [bin Laden] in Tora Bora prior to UBL’s disappearance.”