Jewish World Review May 2, 2011 / 29 Nissan, 5771
Bin Laden raid years in the making, minutes in execution
By Jonathan S. Landay
How it went down, with details from those in the know
ASHINGTON (MCT) It took years for the U.S. military to track
The raid that killed him lasted just 40 minutes.
U.S. officials briefing reporters here said the raid involved a helicopter assault on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad by a small U.S. team.
Bin Laden resisted the U.S. team and was shot in the head, they said. Also killed were bin Laden's most trusted courier and one of bin Laden's sons, as well as a woman one of the men tried to use as a human shield, they said.
"Bin Laden was killed as our operators came into the compound," said one senior administration official, who like the others, spoke on condition they not be further identified because of the situation's sensitivity.
Only U.S. personnel were involved in the raid, and Obama's decision to launch it wasn't shared with any other country, including
One senior administration official indicated that the U.S. was pursuing with the Pakistani government the question of whether any Pakistani officials were aware of bin Laden's presence.
"We are very concerned that he was inside
The compound was uncovered after years of effort by the
"One courier in particular had our constant attention," said a second senior administration official, who declined to release his name, but described him as a "protege" of
The courier and his brother were tracked to a massive, palatial compound built in 2005 at the end of a dirt road in an isolated and "affluent" suburb of Abbottabad favored by retired Pakistani military officers, said the second senior administration official, who added that it was believed that the residence was constructed specifically for bin Laden.
"We were shocked by what we saw," he said, describing the compound as being eight times larger than any of the area's other homes, surrounded by 12- to 18-foot walls topped by barbed wire. Different sections of the structure were walled off from each other.
The "extraordinary security measures" also included two electrified security gates. Trash was burned before being taken out for disposal, he said.
The compound was built at a cost of
The courier and his brother, meanwhile, "had no explainable source of income," said the second administration official, who added that "we soon learned that more people were living at the compound" than just the two men and their families.
The compound's massive security, its isolated location and its size "was consistent with what our experts had expected bin Laden's hideout would look like," he continued. "No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did."
Months of planning went into the helicopter-borne operation, said a third senior administration official, who declined to provide many details, including how many personnel and aircraft participated. Obama met with a close circle of top national security aides five times since
The compound's high walls, security precautions, suburban location "and proximity to
The third senior administration official described the operation as "a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimize collateral damage."
"Our team was in the compound for under 40 minutes," he said.
The senior administration officials said that the operation complied with U.S. and international law, and stressed that Obama had repeatedly put
A fourth senior administration official warned that "there may be a heightened threat" of terrorism against the U.S. homeland and Americans overseas as a result of bin Laden's killing.
The administration, he said, was taking "every possible effort" to detect and thwart any retaliatory terrorist strikes.
But he called bin Laden's death "the single greatest victory" in the long campaign to crush
As for bin Laden's body, it will "be handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition," which dictate that the funeral and burial be held within 24 hours of death, the fourth official said. He declined to elaborate.
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