Osama bin Laden is dead, Obama says
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) -- The mastermind of the worst terrorist attack on American soil is dead, U.S. President Barack Obama announced late Sunday night, almost 10 years after the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.
Osama bin Laden -- the longtime leader of al Qaeda -- was killed by U.S. forces in a mansion outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad along with other family members, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
In an address to the nation late Sunday night, Obama called bin Laden's death "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda."
"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Obama said. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."
U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world were placed on high alert following the announcement of bin Laden's death, a senior U.S. official said, and the U.S. State Department should be sending out a new "worldwide caution" for Americans shortly. Some fear al Qaeda supporters may try to retaliate against U.S. citizens or U.S. institutions.
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Hundreds of people arrived at the White House late Sunday night and chanted, "USA! USA!" They then chanted, "Hey, hey, goodbye!" in reference to the demise of bin Laden and then spontaneously sang the national anthem.
"This welcome news is a credit to our intelligence efforts and brings to justice the architect of the attacks on our country that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, in a statement issued Sunday night.
The news brought some relief to the grieving family members of those killed on 9/11.
"This is important news for us, and for the world. It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones," Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93, said in a statement. "It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."
In his speech, Obama reiterated that the United States is not at war with Islam.
"I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, released a statement Monday morning welcoming the death of bin Laden.
"As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide," the statement said. "We also reiterate President Obama's clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam."
(CNN) -- The mission that killed one of the world's most notorious terrorist leaders was carried out by U.S. forces with the cooperation of Pakistan, U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday night.
Osama bin Laden -- the longtime leader of al Qaeda -- was killed by U.S. forces in a mansion about 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad along with other family members, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
Members of Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, were on site in Abbottabad during the operation, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said.
Bin Laden resisted the assault and was killed in a firefight, senior administration officials said.
The Pakistani intelligence official said he did not know who fired the shot that actually killed the terror mastermind.
Three other men were also killed in raid, as was a woman who was being used as a human shield, senior administration officials said.
The U.S. team was at the compound for about 40 minutes, the officials said. There were no casualties on the American side, although a U.S. helicopter crashed during the raid due to mechanical problems. The helicopter was then destroyed for security reasons, senior administration officials said.
A senior administration official told reporters that Obama's administration did not share intelligence gathered beforehand with any other country -- including Pakistan -- for security reasons.
The official said only a small group of people inside the U.S. government knew about this operation ahead of time. Another official said a "small U.S. team" was involved in the operation; but the official would not confirm any U.S. military involvement.
However, a senior defense official said U.S. Navy SEALs were involved.
Osama Bin Laden was killed not by a drone strike, but up close during a firefight with U.S. troops. He was not living in a cave when he died, but in a million-dollar mansion with twelve-foot walls just 40 miles from the Pakistani capital, where U.S. forces killed him Sunday.
The U.S. had been monitoring the compound in Abbottabad for months after receiving a tip in August that Bin Laden might be seeking shelter there. He had long been said to be in the mountainous region along the Afghanistan, Pakistan border, hiding in a cave as the U.S. sought to kill him with drone strikes from above. Instead, he was in a house eight times larger than its neighbors, with walls more than 12 feet tall and valued at $1 million. The house had no phone or television and the residents burned their trash. The house had high windows and few points of access, and U.S. officials concluded it had been built to hide someone.
According to U.S. officials, two U.S. helicopters swept into the compound at 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy Seals under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command in cooperation with the CIA stormed the compound and engaged Bin Laden and his men in a firefight, killed Bin Laden and all those with him.
Senior White House officials said early Monday that the trail that led to Osama bin Laden began before 9/11, before the terror attacks that brought bin Laden to prominence. The trail warmed up last fall, when it discovered an elaborate compound in Pakistan.
"From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the U.S. gathered information on people in bin Laden's circle, including his personal couriers," a senior official in the Obama administration said in a background briefing from the White House.
After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, "detainees gave us information on couriers. One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre, his pseudonym, and also identified this man as one of the few couriers trusted by bin Laden."