Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by a team of U.S. operatives early yesterday morning after a firefight at a house where he had been hiding, President Barack Obamasaid.
“On nights like this one we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done,” Obama said in a late-night televised address from the White House.
Obama delivered the news to the nation almost 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks that bin Laden orchestrated. Bin Laden was killed, along with other members of his family in a compound in suburban Islamabad, an official said. Almost 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, most at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia just outside of Washington.
Obama and his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, made capturing al-Qaeda leaderbin Laden a key national security priority. Obama has called the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan the “epicenter of violent extremism,” where he said bin Laden was hiding.
Obama said bin Laden was killed today by U.S. assets during a “firefight” outside of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The president said he authorized an attack on bin Laden’s compound after he determined last week there was enough intelligence to take action.
Bin Laden’s killing came after years of “painstaking” work by the U.S. intelligence community, Obama said.
Obama said that shortly after taking office in 2009, he directed Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the “top priority” in the war against al-Qaeda. In August, Obama was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden, he said.
“Tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to,” Obama said. “That is the story of our history.”
The news brought a cheering, chanting crowd outside the White House fence. They began gathering before Obama spoke and the crowd continued to grow into the early morning hours.
The intelligence revealed that bin Laden was living in a large home in a secure compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad, according to administration officials who briefed reporters after Obama spoke.
The U.S. had been looking at the sprawling compound since at least last September, the officials said. By mid-March Obama held a series of meeting of his National Security Council to determine a course of action.
Authorizing the Mission
The president gave the go ahead for the operation early in the morning of April 29, according to one of the officials.
The raid occurred in the early morning hours yesterday, the officials said. Helicopters carried the U.S. operatives to compound and they were on the ground for about 40 minutes, they said. No U.S. personnel were killed.
Obama warned that the fight against terrorism isn’t ended with the death of bin Laden.
“There’s no doubt that al-Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us” he said.
The State Department issued an alert to U.S. citizens traveling abroad to warn of potential anti-American violence as a result of the raid.
Obama called Bush to inform him about the raid.
“I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission,” the former president said in a statement. “This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.”
The administration briefed congressional officials ahead of the president’s address.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said he wanted to “commend President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all of their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.”