I got word rather late last night that Osama bin Laden was killed in an early morning raid by U.S. Navy Seals on May 1. Other details I’ve heard are that the Pakistani government was not told about the raid until yesterday. The U.S. government got intelligence last August that bin Laden was in a building in Abbottobad, Pakistan, just outside of Islamabad. Abbottobad is a wealthy community mostly made up of retired Pakistani military personnel. The building was 8 times larger than any other building in the area, and it was fortified against attack. It was also set apart from the community, and was only accessible by a dirt road. It was described on the news as a “mansion,” but the ABC News article I link to gives a description that makes it sound more like a large military building.
Obama said in a speech last night that the U.S. had been gathering intelligence on this location since it first learned of it. He said last week he felt he had enough information to know for sure that bin Laden was there, and he ordered a raid on it, which took place early yesterday morning. It was successful.
Reportedly, three other people were killed in the attack. One of them is thought to be one of bin Laden’s sons. Another was a woman
that bin Laden’s fighters used as a human shield. There were children housed in the building, who were unharmed in the raid. No U.S. soldiers were killed. I heard a report just a little while ago that bin Laden was given the opportunity to surrender, but he chose to fire his weapon, and so he was killed. Bin Laden always said that if it came to this, he would refuse to be taken alive. His body was taken by the Seals, and has been identified by comparing his DNA with that of his relatives. It is now in U.S. custody.
Shortly after the news broke of bin Laden’s death spontaneous celebrations started gathering at the White House, Times Square, and Ground Zero.
This is a great moment for President Obama, and he deserves praise for finally getting the leader of Al Qaida. Of course, my thanks go to the U.S. military who actually did the work! The only other “big fish” who is still at large is Ayman Al Zawahiri, who was bin Laden’s “#2”. The fight is still not over. As President Bush said, even if he was able to get bin Laden, it would not end Al Qaida as a movement and organization. That is still the case.
Edit 5-3-11: Reportedly the body was buried at sea, according to Islamic customs. The White House has backtracked on some details of the raid. See here.