U.S. Kills bin Laden in Intelligence-driven Operation

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2011 — An intel­li­gence-dri­ven U.S. oper­a­tion in Pak­istan killed al-Qai­da leader Osama bin Laden yes­ter­day, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced in a nation­al­ly tele­vised address from the White House late last night.
The pres­i­dent revealed that short­ly after tak­ing office in Jan­u­ary 2009, he ordered CIA Direc­tor Leon E. Panet­ta to make bin Laden’s death or cap­ture the top pri­or­i­ty of the U.S. war against the al-Qai­da ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.

“Then, last August, after years of painstak­ing work by our intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, I was briefed on a pos­si­ble lead to bin Laden. It was far from cer­tain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground,” he said. The pres­i­dent said he met repeat­ed­ly with his nation­al secu­ri­ty team as infor­ma­tion devel­oped indi­cat­ing bin Laden was at a com­pound in Pak­istan, and that last week he deter­mined enough infor­ma­tion was avail­able and autho­rized the oper­a­tion.

“Today, at my direc­tion, the Unit­ed States launched a tar­get­ed oper­a­tion against that com­pound in Abbot­tabad, Pak­istan,” Oba­ma said. “A small team of Amer­i­cans car­ried out the oper­a­tion with extra­or­di­nary courage and capa­bil­i­ty.

“No Amer­i­cans were harmed,” he con­tin­ued. “They took care to avoid civil­ian casu­al­ties. After a fire­fight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took cus­tody of his body.” Oba­ma not­ed that bin Laden had been al-Qaida’s leader and sym­bol for more than 20 years and con­tin­ued to plot attacks against the Unit­ed States and its allies.

“The death of bin Laden marks the most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qai­da, yet his death does not mark the end of our effort,” Oba­ma said. “There is no doubt that al-Qai­da will con­tin­ue to pur­sue attacks against us. We must, and we will, remain vig­i­lant at home and abroad.”

The pres­i­dent empha­sized that the war against al-Qai­da is not a war against Islam.

“Bin Laden was not a Mus­lim leader,” he said. “He was a mass mur­der­er of Mus­lims. Indeed, al-Qai­da has slaugh­tered scores of Mus­lims in many coun­tries, includ­ing our own. So his demise should be wel­comed by all who believe in peace and human dig­ni­ty.”

Coun­tert­er­ror­ism coop­er­a­tion with Pak­istan helped in find­ing bin Laden and the com­pound where he was hid­ing, the pres­i­dent said.

“Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pak­istan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pak­istani peo­ple. Tonight, I called [Pak­istani] Pres­i­dent [Asif Ali] Zardari, and my team has also spo­ken with their Pak­istani coun­ter­parts. They agree that this is a good and his­toric day for both of our nations, and going for­ward, it is essen­tial that Pak­istan con­tin­ue to join us in the fight against al-Qai­da and its affil­i­ates.”

The pres­i­dent praised those who worked to find bin Laden and those who car­ried out the oper­a­tion that killed him.

“Tonight, we give thanks to the count­less intel­li­gence and coun­tert­er­ror­ism pro­fes­sion­als who’ve worked tire­less­ly to achieve this out­come,” he said. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the sat­is­fac­tion of their work and the result of their pur­suit of jus­tice.

“We give thanks for the men who car­ried out this oper­a­tion,” he con­tin­ued, “for they exem­pli­fy the pro­fes­sion­al­ism, patri­o­tism, and unpar­al­leled courage of those who serve our coun­try. And they are part of a gen­er­a­tion that has borne the heav­i­est share of the bur­den since that Sep­tem­ber day.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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