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Obama: Bin Laden's death a 'good day' for America

By Ben Feller

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 2 2011 2:02 p.m. MDT

Senior U.S. officials said bin Laden was killed toward the end of the firefight, which took place in a building at a compound north of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. His body was put aboard the USS Carl Vinson and then placed into the North Arabian Sea. An official familiar with the operation said bin Laden fired on U.S. forces and was hit by return fire.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because aspects of the operation remain classified.

The official said two dozen SEALs in night-vision goggles dropped into the high-walled compound in Pakistan by sliding down ropes from Chinook helicopters in the overnight raid.

The SEALs retrieved bin Laden's body and turned the remaining detainees over to Pakistani authorities.

Traditional Islamic procedures for handling the remains were followed, the officials said, including washing the corpse, placing it in a white sheet.

"The fight continues and we will never waver," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the State Department. Her comments had echoes of President George W. Bush's declaration nearly a decade ago, when al-Qaida attacks against America led to war in Afghanistan and changed the way Americans viewed their own safety.

Turning to deliver a direct message to bin Laden's followers, she vowed: "You cannot wait us out."

U.S. Capitol Police put on a conspicuous show of force Monday morning with 10 vehicles amassed near Constitution Avenue with their lights flashing and doors and trunks open. Officers armed with automatic weapons kept watch on every vehicle that passed.

Obama himself had delivered the news of bin Laden's killing in a dramatic White House statement late Sunday. "Justice has been done," he declared.

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of bin Laden.

The military operation that ended his life took mere minutes.

U.S. Black Hawk helicopters ferried about two dozen troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counter-terrorism unit, into the compound identified by the CIA as bin Laden's hideout — and back out again in less than 40 minutes. Bin Laden was shot after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault, officials said.

The compound is about a half-mile from a Pakistani military academy, in a city that is home to three army regiments and thousands of military personnel. Abbottabad is surrounded by hills with mountains in the distance.

Bin Laden's death came 15 years after he declared war on the United States. Al-Qaida was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.

"We have rid the world of the most infamous terrorist of our time," CIA Director Leon Panetta declared to employees of the agency in a memo Monday morning.

Retaliatory attacks against the U.S. and Western targets could come from members of al-Qaida's core branch in the tribal areas of Pakistan, al-Qaida franchises in other countries or radicalized individuals in the U.S. with al-Qaida sympathies, according to a Homeland Security Department intelligence alert issued Sunday and obtained by The Associated Press.

In addition to bin Laden, one of his sons, Khalid, was killed in the raid, as was the wife who shielded him, Brennan said. Also killed were two of bin Laden's al-Qaida facilitators, including one who was apparently listed as the owner of the residence, Brennan said.

As news of bin Laden's death spread, hundreds of people cheered and waved American flags at ground zero in New York, the site where al-Qaida hijacked jets blasted the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Thousands celebrated all night outside the White House gates.

Many people said they were surprised that bin Laden had finally been found and killed. John Gocio, a doctor from Arkansas who was gathering what details he could from TV screens at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, marveled: "After such a long time, you kind of give up and say, 'Well, that's never going to happen.'"

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