Osama Bin Laden – Life and Death
His life and how it ended in 2011.
Osama was the founder of the jihadist organization al-Qaeda, responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets. He was also a member of the wealthy Saudi bin Laden family. Bin Laden was on the American Federal Bureau of Investigation’s lists of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists for his involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings. From 2001 to 2011, bin Laden and his organization had been major targets of the War on Terror. On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan in an operation conducted by President Barack Obama, United States Navy SEALs and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Bin Laden was widely assumed to have been hiding in the remote tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The fact that he was killed close to the Pakistani capital will fuel fears that Pakistan has been giving sanctuary to al-Qaeda leaders.
In the days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush said that bin Laden was wanted “dead or alive” while Vice President Dick Cheney said he would willingly accept the al-Qaeda leader’s head “on a platter”.
But after bin Laden escaped from US forces in the Tora Bora cave complex in April 2002 he eluded the CIA and American forces despite the intense focus on killing or capturing the man responsible for killing 3,000 Americans and others in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in the worst terrorist attack in US history.
The US President Barack Obama has hailed the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden as a “good day for America,” saying the world is now a safer and a better place.
Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US special forces on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
He is believed to have ordered the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, as well as a number of other deadly bombings.
He topped the US “most wanted” list.
But his details on the list have now been updated with a simple banner indicating his current status: “Deceased”.
DNA tests carried out after the operation indicated with “99.9%” certainty that the man shot dead was Osama Bin Laden, US officials said.
He was buried at sea after a Muslim funeral on board an aircraft carrier in the north Arabian Sea, Pentagon officials said.
The US has put its embassies around the world on alert, warning Americans of the possibility of al-Qaeda reprisal attacks for Bin Laden’s killing.
CIA director Leon Panetta said al-Qaeda would “almost certainly” try to avenge the death of Bin Laden.
The US president’s chief counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan said that al-Qaeda, though weakened, remained a danger.
“It may be a mortally wounded tiger but it still has some life in it,” he said.
As news of Bin Laden’s death was being digested around the world, President Obama said: “Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do”.
Bin Laden, 54, approved the 9/11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died.
He evaded the forces of the US and its allies for almost a decade, despite a $25m (£15m) bounty on his head.
On Sunday, US forces said to be from the elite Navy Seal Team Six undertook the operation in Abbottabad, 100km (62 miles) north-east of Islamabad.
US officials said Bin Laden was shot in the head after resisting.
The compound in Abbottabad is just a few hundred metres from the Pakistan Military Academy – the country’s equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst.
The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Abbottabad says it will undoubtedly be a huge embarrassment to Pakistan that Bin Laden was found not only in the country, but also on the doorstep of the military academy.
Pakistan was only notified of the operation once US forces had left its airspace.
Mr Brennan said it was “inconceivable” that Bin Laden did not have a support system in Pakistan.
“We’re going to pursue all leads to find out exactly what type of support system and benefactors that Bin Laden might have had,” he said.
However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said co-operation from Pakistan helped lead the Americans to Bin Laden.
Bin Laden’s body was consigned to the sea after a burial service on the USS Carl Vinson.
“The deceased’s body was washed and then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker,” a US defence official said.
“After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body eased into the sea,” the official said.
Photographs of Bin Laden’s body have not been released.
The head of the al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s most important seat of learning, condemned the decision to dispose of the body at sea.
Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb said it was an affront which ran “contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs”.
As the news spread, crowds gathered outside the White House in Washington DC and Ground Zero, in New York, chanting “USA, USA”.
In Pakistan, about 100 people took part in a protest in the western city of Quetta, burning a US flag and chanting anti-American slogans.
Mrs Clinton said the operation sent a signal to the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“You cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process,” she said.
And she said there was “no better rebuke to al-Qaeda and its heinous ideology” than the peaceful uprisings across the Arab world against authoritarian governments.
Giving more details of the raid, one senior US official said a small US team conducted the attack in about 40 minutes.
Three other men – one of Bin Laden’s sons and two couriers – and a woman, were killed in the raid, the official said.
Speaking later, Mr Brennan said that the woman who died was believed to be Bin Laden’s wife.
“She served as a shield,” he said, adding: “It was unclear is she was put there, or if she put herself there.”
He confirmed that US commandos on the raid had been ready to take the al-Qaeda leader alive, if that had been possible.