The announcement that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in an American operation in Abbottabad (150 north of Islamabad in Pakistan) was made early Monday, May 2, by US President Barack Obama at the White House. The first lead to his whereabouts had been received in August. Last week, Obama said, he authorized an operation on the ground to go after Bin Laden in Pakistan.
"It was a special operation carried out by a small team of Americans last night," he said.
None were harmed and care was taken not to harm civilians. "After a firefight, bin Laden was killed and the US force took possession of his body."
The US president said he had called the Pakistani president and prime minister overnight about the operation, the most significant event in the long fight on terrorism. He repeated the words of President George W. Bush: the US was not at war against Islam but a mass murderer of Muslims. America must remain vigilant, he said.
Upon hearing the news, jubilant crowds gathered around the White House and other parts of America singing, dancing and shouting USA… USA! Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton published notices of congratulation to their successor and US intelligence and military on the triumphant conclusion of the long pursuit which they initiated.
debkafile's counter-terror experts note that Bin Laden's death while momentous has not terminated the threat of al Qaeda terror, whose main thrust has refocused in recent years on the Middle East and Africa, especially in places like Yemen, Somalia, Algeria and the Sahara.
For years, al Qaeda sources claimed that bin Laden had kept a special strike force ready to go into action in the West on the news of his death or capture. This report was never confirmed by intelligence information.
Washington has meanwhile issued a global alert to US embassies and citizens of enhanced terror potential in revenge for Osama bin Laden's death. Reports are coming out now that in the firefight which ended in his death some of Bin Laden's kin, possibly one of his sons, was killed as well as bodyguards.