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.