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05.01.11

Osama bin Laden Killed: Breaking Details

Nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama has confirmed that U.S. agents killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a firefight deep inside Pakistan on Sunday.

Nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama confirmed that U.S. agents killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a firefight deep inside Pakistan on Sunday. He has since been buried at sea.

Plus, Howard Kurtz on Obama's greatest achievement, Peter Beinart on the fate of the war on terror, Andrew Sullivan's live blog of the night's astounding events, and reactions from around the globe

President Obama confirmed Sunday night that al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight deep in Pakistan—ending a nearly decade-long manhunt. No Americans were harmed in the operation, and U.S. agents captured the terrorist’s body. “Justice has been done,” the president said in a press conference.

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According to U.S. officials, two U.S. helicopters swept in to Abbottabad, Pakistan, between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Sunday monring. Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy Seals under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command in cooperation with the CIA stormed the compound, engaging bin and Laden and his men in a fight—killing bin Laden and everyone with him. Bin Laden's son was killed, as well as a woman reportedly being used as a shield by one of the men. Other women and children present in the compound were there, but not harmed.

Across the country, major politicians are weighing on the news. Former President George W. Bush said, “This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.” Former President Bill Clinton has also issued a statement, as has House Speaker John Boehner.

Photos: The World Reacts

U.S. intelligence scored its first big lead regarding the whereabouts of bin Laden last August—and since then, has been hunting the terrorist out. In his speech, Obama highlighted how bin Laden's assassination represents the most significant achievement in the war on terror. “The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory—hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction,” Obama said. “We have never forgotten your loss."

In the hour between when the White House announced that an unplanned speech on an undisclosed matter of national intelligence was forthcoming and the remarks, reports of bin Laden's death leaked to major news outlets. Hundreds gathered outside the White House chanting “USA! USA! USA!” and “hey, hey, goodbye.” Millions reacted on Twitter, with Sarah Palin tweeting “thank you, American men and women in uniform.” After Obama's address, crowds began singing the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Bin Laden’s death came on the eighth anniversary of when President George W. Bush marked an end to the Iraq War, famously declaring “Mission Accomplished” atop an aircraft carrier—and on the 66th anniversary of the announcement of Adolf Hitler's death. It also comes at time of turmoil in the upper ranks of the military and intelligence community: Defense Secretary Robert Gates will step down in the fall, to be succeeded by CIA director Leon Panetta. Their shuffle comes less than a year after Gen. Stanley McChrystal was forced out of office and was succeeded by Gen. David Petraeus.