Day 2: Breaking News About Osama bin Laden's Death
Get the latest updates on Osama bin Laden's death. Plus, earlier updates below.
Bin Laden's Young Wife Identified
By the time Osama bin Laden was killed, he was down to only one of his five wives: Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, the youngest and his rumored favorite. By the time he moved into his Pakistan mansion, Bin Laden had divorced one of his wives and three others had moved to Syria, according to ABC News, but Amal had remained with him. She had been given to him as a gift when she was still a teenager, and eventually had three children with bin Laden—a daughter and two sons, who lived with them in the compound.
On the night of the raid, Amal was in the bedroom with Bin Laden, and apparently reacted with fury to the Navy SEALs who had come to kill her husband. "She rushed one of the U.S. assaulters and was shot in the leg, but not killed," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Bin Laden's Final Message to His 24 Children
What does the will of a terrorist mastermind say? There are some surprises: Osama bin Laden apologizes to his children for neglecting them and instructs them not to join al Qaeda. The four-page document, published in a Kuwaiti newspaper, is focused on justifying bin Laden’s jihad against American and Israel and there is no mention of possessions. Bin Laden inherited an estimated $30 million fortune from his father. “You, my children, I apologize for giving you so little of my time because I responded to the need for jihad,” the will states. As justification for not having them join al Qaeda, bin Laden cites an Islamic text that instructs the Prophet Mohammad’s son to not to wage a holy war. As for his wives, they are instructed to “not consider” marrying again and instead focus on raising his children. The Kuwaiti paper says the will dates back to 2001.
Bush Won't Join Obama at Ground Zero
Former President George W. Bush has declined President Obama’s invitation to jointly visit Ground Zero on Thursday, NBC News reported Tuesday evening. NBC said Bush plans to mark the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attack at Ground Zero in September. Obama will visit the site of the World Trade Center on Thursday for the first time as president. he will meeting with family members of 9/11 victims. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that it’s “terribly important” for Obama to come to Ground Zero again on 10-year anniversary of the attack, and said Obama’s staff said the president is making the trip, but the White House did not confirm Bloomberg’s statements.
Two Possible Eyewitnesses
One of Osama bin Laden's wives witnessed his death, and she and a 12-year-old bin Laden daughter are now in U.S. custody. According to the BBC, the girl told Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence that her father had been killed. If the two are eventually allowed to speak, their accounts of the raid could be more important than any visual evidence the U.S. releases. On Tuesday night, outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta told NBC's Brian Williams that photos of bin Laden's body will "ultimately" be released.
A Timeline of bin Laden's Life
Pakistan Lashes Out Against the Raid
The Pakistani government said Tuesday afternoon that the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was an “ unauthorized unilateral action” by the U.S. and warned that “such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the United States.” The comments came a day after Washington’s Af-Pak envoy, Marc Grossman, warned met privately with the head of the Pakistani army and the chief of the Inter Service Intelligence, Pakistan’s equivalent to the CIA and said that Congress is getting wary about Pakistan—a message that underscored how urgent it is that Pakistan show some signs of reform, a U.S. official said. With bin Laden living so close to the capital, Pakistan has faced questions that it is either incompetent or knew of the terrorist’s location—both of which make the military and intelligence community look foolish. “It’s a double embarrassment,” said a retired Pakistani general.
Osama's Couriers Bought Pepsi, Coke in Bulk
Local shopkeepers say that people from Bin Laden's compound regularly bought Pepsi, Coke, and other popular brands in bulk. A shopkeeper in the area was "curious" why they bought their food in bulk, but never asked for fear of coming across as rude. Rashid and Akbar Khan owned the compound and did the daily shopping for bin Laden and his aides and told neighbors that they had fled a tribal feud in Waziristan, a violent region on the Afghan border, in favor of a more peaceful life in Abbottabad. Grocer Anjum Qaisar, who worked 150 meters from the compound, said the Khans "never came by foot, they always drove a Pajero or a little Suzuki van, and they bought enough food for 10 people."
New Details on the Raid
In a White House briefing, press spokesman Jay Carney cleared up some misconceptions about the Navy raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The al Qaeda leader was not armed when he was shot and killed, Carney said—but he did resist. Carney read the administration’s revised narrative of the raid, which also walked back the previous statement that bin Laden’s wife was used as a human shield killed during the raid. (She was merely wounded in the leg.) It was also reiterated that U.S. forces were prepared to take bin Laden alive but a serious firefight broke out during the raid, and he did resist, which required the use of deadly force. Read the full official narrative here.
Is There a Tape?
This would certainly be unsettling: Though Osama bin Laden is dead, U.S. officials predict they will hear from him again in at least one new tape which they expect will soon be released. The New York Daily News reported on Monday that officials were worried the leader's al Qaeda couriers would release a recording of their late leader threatening a backlash in the event of his death. The tape is said to have been made not long before his death, though intelligence reports say he was unaware that the U.S. was preparing for his demise. It is not clear whether this will be an audio or video recording. The White House and the media will have to decide whether or not to broadcast the tape when and if they get a hold of it. Already seen as a "martyr" by his followers and other extremist organizations in the Middle East, the tape could potentially prompt a backlash and new violence from his supporters.
As the world tries to piece together the events that brought down bin Laden, a diplomatic source revealed a key detail to CNN: the name of the faithful courier that led the U.S. to the terrorist's hideout. A Kuwaiti named Abu Ahmad is reportedly the inadvertent source. Last July, CIA operatives tracked the man while he was driving a white Suzuki in Pakistan. Eventually, the courier led them right to the sprawling mansion where bin Laden had been hiding. The most recent cache of WikiLeaks files related to Guantanamo Bay turns up Ahmad's name several times. The Kuwaiti is linked closely to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a key planner of the 9/11 attacks. It's not clear whether he was at the compound during the raid.
The Secret Photos
Is it necessary to show the public photos of Osama bin Laden's dead body, or is it morbid? The White House is debating whether or not to release photos of the al Qaeda leader's corpse. The photos would be released to allay public anxiety and squash conspiracy theories that the terrorist is not dead. "There's no doubt it's him," said a U.S. official who has allegedly seen the pictures. But the other side of the debate is that the photos are grisly and graphic, displaying a gaping hole above his left eye where brains and blood can be seen. A source tells ABC News that the White House is considering releasing the photos on Tuesday.
In 2003, the U.S. government released pictures of Saddam Hussein's dead sons Uday and Qusay Hussein, but only after their bodies had been worked on by a mortician.
Entering into the second full day following Osama bin Laden's death, a major question remained: How did the terrorist leader hide in Pakistan for all these years? One senior intelligence official said Monday that the al Qaeda mastermind was "more or less hiding in plain sight."—a far cry from the caves in Waziristan that the CIA had long been hitting with drone strikes. The compound's main building was three stories tall and the whole facility appeared to be worth at least $1 million. President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan said, "We are looking at how he was able to hide out there for so long." With bin Laden found roughly 30 miles from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Congress threatened to withhold economic aid to Pakistan, and the U.S. will increase pressure on Pakistan to hand over Taliban leader Mullah Omar and bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
At this stage, there seem to be only two explanations as to how bin Laden was able to hide out for so long: incompetence by Pakistan, or Pakistani authorities playing a double game. But one thing is certain: Pakistan's official response is still unknown. Even assuming that the Pakistani military is happy about the raid—a big if—the news came as both a shock and an embarrassment to them. The official statement from the government—so slow in coming— tried to resume business as usual with the U.S., after months of tense negotiations over the CIA's presence in the country. While U.S. officials were careful to not directly accuse anyone in the Pakistani government of knowing about bin Laden or his whereabouts, there were some who were skeptical. "Someone knew," said Maj. Gen. James Helmly, the top American official in Pakistan from 2006-2008. Whether it was the top ranks of the Inter-Service Intelligence, Pakistan's equivalent to the CIA, "is anyone's guess," Helmly said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in an opinion column Monday night that his country was not involved at all in the raid that killed bin Laden. "He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone," Zardari wrote. Although the raid was not a joint operation, Zardari insisted "a decade of cooperation between the United States and Pakistan led to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world." As for charges of his country—and government—being incompetent or two-faced, Zardari wrote "such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn't reflect fact."
No matter what Zardari insists, some are not swayed. They include, Time's Michael Crowley, who defines the U.S.-Pakistan relationship as "frenemies." As Crowley reminds, WikiLeaks cables released last year showed how little the U.S. trusted Pakistan, and diplomatic spats between the two countries have been occurring for some time. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even suggested in May 2010 that "somewhere in this government are people who know" where bin Laden was hiding. Despite the public threats about cutting off aid, Crowley writes, that isn't a rea option given how important Pakistan is in the Afghan war.
Obama: "Pride" In What the Nation Achieved
President Obama received a standing ovation Monday night when he mentioned the raid that killed bin Laden during brief remarks to members of Congress at the White House. "You know, I think we experience the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11," Obama said once everyone had taken his or her seat again. "We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics." Obama described bin Laden's death as one of America's unifying moments—one of several this year, including the Tucson shooting and the South's recent deadly tornado streak.
Gallery: Inside Osama bin Laden's Hideout
Conflicting Reports from White House
The White House modified its official account of what exactly happened at bin Laden's compound, changing a number of key details. Officials backed away from claims by senior U.S. officials that bin Laden had a weapon and possibly fired it during the raid, as well as the claim that one of bin Laden's wives was killed as al Qaeda's mastermind used her as a human shield. While one official directly challenged the claim that bin Laden had a weapon, the White House did not elaborate on whether bin Laden fought back. As for the claim about the woman being bin Laden's wife, one official said "a different guy's wife was killed," and other officials admitted that "two women were shot here." "This is hours old and the full facts are still to be ascertained as those involved are debriefed," officials said.
What's Next for Afghanistan?
Remember Afghanistan? Even after bin Laden's death, there are some 100,000 American troops fighting in the war there—a war to destroy al Qaeda, the group bin Laden led from Pakistan. White House officials insisted publicly Monday that the war in Afghanistan—and similar missions in Waziristan, Pakistan—would not be affected by bin Laden's death, but some admitted privately that there will be pressure to withdraw troops faster now that bin Laden is dead. Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, said "every question has to be on the table" about the Afghan war, and that he will hold hearings on the issue this week. Senior Afghan officials who have always questioned the U.S.'s ongoing presence maintained that "Pakistan is the problem." "We have said that the fight against terrorism is not in bombing women and children of Afghanistan," said Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Even though Karzai insisted that he had been proven right—that the war on terror should not take place in Afghanistan—there are many officials worried about what would happen should the U.S. abandon its fight. "America will forget Afghanistan again," said one Afghan official—resurrecting fears that what could happen is a repeat of the abandonment of Afghanistan in 1989, after the Soviet withdrawal. But others insisted that the raid will show al Qaeda that it cannot just "ride out" the war in Pakistan before returning to Afghanistan. "Number one, this is a significant blow to the insurgents in Afghanistan, to the general capability of al Qaeda, and to the morale of all those who have been protecting terrorist leaders," said Afghanistan's former deputy interior minister, Hanif Atmar.
And then there are the American veterans of the foreign wars. "I cried all night as I watched the news," said Staff Sgt. Matt Colvin, 30, who said he had thought of bin Laden as a "mythical figurehead." Many veterans said that despite all the celebrating, they knew that the war is hardly over. "It's nice to know we got him in a body bag," said one military veteran. "[But] he had to hide for so long, he wasn't really the face of the movement."
Behind the Raid
After nearly 10 years, how did U.S. forces find bin Laden? The New York Times reports that the deadly raid was the culmination of "painstaking" intelligence work that resembles the details in a spy thriller—including piecing through what was said and not said in interrogations in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, eavesdropped phone calls and e-mails—until officials in July began following a man in Peshawar, Pakistan, who was bin Laden's most trusted courier. After weeks of surveillance, CIA agents followed him to a sprawling compound in Abbottabad—officials knew they were onto something big. CIA director Leon Panetta briefed Obama and his national security team the next day, in a meeting one official described as "electric." On March 14, Panetta took his intelligence to the White House, and on March 22, Obama asked his advisers to draw up options. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates favored a bombing, Obama opted against the less risky bombing because he worried it would leave questions as to whether bin Laden was still alive.
Despite eight months of investigation of the courier, White House officials admitted they were terrified about the mission going wrong. "There wasn't a meeting where someone didn't mention Black Hawk Down," said one senior administration official, referring to the failed 1993 Somali mission that led to two American helicopters being shot down and the bodies of the soldiers infamously being paraded through the streets. Inside the Situation Room Sunday, Obama and his advisers monitored the operation in real time—aides said Obama sat "stone-faced," while Vice President Joe Biden fingered his rosary beads. The message came from the mission in code: Geronimo EKIA. Geronimo was the code name for bin Laden. EKIA meant Enemy Killed in Action. There was silence in the Situation Room until Obama spoke up and said, "We've got him."
U.S. security officials also acknowledged Monday that they knew going in that this would be a " kill operation." "If he had waved a white flag of surrender, he would have been taken alive," the official said, but he admitted that nobody thought bin Laden would actually do that. Although the CIA had "high confidence" that bin Laden was at the Abbottabad compound, one official conceded that the agency was never "100 percent certain" he was in fact there.
Aside from killing bin Laden and several other men, Navy SEALs successfully grabbed computer drives and disks with what officials called "the mother lode of intelligence." An official said "hundreds of people" are exploring the data, and the intelligence operatives in Washington are excited to find out what is there. "It is going to be great, even if only 10 percent is actionable," the official said.
To identify bin Laden's body, analysts used a number of methods to make absolutely sure they had the right man. One method was kinship analysis, a method of typing DNA that was used to identify those killed during the 9/11 attacks. While no details have been released about what exactly analysts used, people who perform DNA identifications generally try to compare a body or body part with any known blood sample—a biopsy, a blood sample or even just some cells collected from a toothbrush. It typically takes a few hours, but one researcher said that in high-profile cases, law enforcement agencies already might have genetic profiles of relatives available—meaning they'd only have to complete one additional test.
The Republican Response
The search for bin Laden had come to be one of the biggest priorities of President Bush's time in office—and the inability to find him stood out as a stark failure. Given this, how did Republicans react? For the most part, many said things along the lines of " Obama clearly deserves credit" (former Vice President Dick Cheney's words). Former Bush adviser Karl Rove tweeted "Justice has been done to Osama bin Laden: all Americans are proud of our military, intel & Presidents Bush, Obama. USA! USA!" Bush himself congratulated Obama and "the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission." But not all Republicans were willing to give Obama credit: Talk show host Rush Limbaugh sarcastically praised Obama, and suggested that the president's insistence against a bombing almost ruined the whole mission. Further, Limbaugh said, if Obama "were a shoo-in for re-election, Osama bin Laden would be alive today."
Cost of the War on Terror
After all is said and done, how much has the so-called War on Terror cost in dollars? From the 9/11 terrorist attack through May 1, Congress spent an estimated $1.28 trillion on "military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs and veterans' health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 terrorist attacks." The three operations—Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Noble Eagle, which provided enhanced security at military bases, and Iraqi Freedom—are broken down this way: $806 billion for Iraq, $444 billion for Afghanistan and $6 billion on "unallocated" items.