Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden is killed by US ground forces

May 2, 2011

A source familiar with the U.S. operation said bin Laden was shot in the head. His death was confirmed separately by officials in Pakistan.

Jubilant, flag-waving celebrations erupted in Washington and New York. It was the biggest national security victory for Obama since he took office in early 2009 and could give him a political boost as he seeks re-election in 2012.

Obama may now find it easier to wind down the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan, begun after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000.


But the operation could complicate relations with Pakistan already frayed over U.S. drone strikes in the west of the country and the jailing of a CIA contractor accused of killing two Pakistani men.

A U.S. official said Pakistani authorities were told the details of the raid after it had taken place.

Obama said U.S. forces led a targeted operation that killed bin Laden in a compound in Abbotabad north of Islamabad. No Americans were killed in the operation and they took care to avoid civilian casualties, he said.

Bin Laden and three adult men, including a son of bin Laden were killed along with a woman who was used as a shield by a male combatant, officials said.

The operation took under 40 minutes. A U.S. helicopter was lost due to a mechanical problem and its crew and assault force safely evacuated.

The operation was monitored in real-time by CIA Director Leon Panetta and other intelligence officials in a conference room at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, an official said.

Senior administration officials said they were finally led to bin Laden after more than four years tracking one of his trusted couriers, and the man’s brother, using intelligence obtained from detainees captured after September 11.

They finally identified the men’s residence in August 2010, and quickly realized the $1 million, three-story property was far more than the home of two individuals with no discernible source of wealth.