Day 3: Breaking News about Osama bin Laden’s Death
Never-before-seen stealth helicopters were exposed in Sunday’s raid on Osama bin Laden, shedding light on a secret program experts weren’t even sure existed. Plus, shocking new photos from the operation and more updates.
Plus, full coverage of Osama bin Laden.
Obama's Secret Weapon
In case you were too focused on the blood to notice, aviation experts said Wednesday that the helicopters shown in photographs of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden have never been seen before. They have top-secret stealth modifiers that allowed the Navy SEALs to silently sneak up on the suburban compound where bin Laden had been living. In addition to the noise-reducing modifications, the helicopters had a different look than other military helicopters—sharper angles and flat surfaces more common to stealth jets. A senior Pentagon official said the Defense Department would “absolutely not” comment on the helicopters shown in the photos. The military has been working to improve the Black Hawk helicopter since at least 2004, but the public has never seen any evidence of the program.
Shocking New Raid Photos
While the world may never see the dead body of Osama bin Laden, more shocking photos of the raid on his compound have been released. Reuters got hold of photos taken by a Pakistani security official reportedly only an hour after the U.S. stormed bin Laden's lair. They show a downed helicopter, shots of rooms strewn with blood, and most shockingly, the gory bodies of three unidentified men. Warning: the photos are very graphic.
Heroic Navy SEALs Return Home
Unfortunately, they are still anonymous, so they will not receive a public heroes' welcome. The elusive Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden returned to U.S. soil on Wednesday, arriving at Andrews Air Force base outside of Washington, D.C. After their historic mission, the team is likely to be honored—fittingly— in secret. The Navy has not yet confirmed that the SEALs carried out the mission, but Rear Adm. Edward Winters sent an email congratulating his forces and reminding them to keep quiet. In order to honor the SEALs involved, the Navy will have to figure out who did what, and then write a letter outlining their achievements. Then the immediate commanding officer will present the honors to the team. The entire process could take many months. As the mission went almost perfectly, the soldiers involved will receive the military’s highest honors. However, those involved will not be eligible to receive the $25 million reward for hunting down bin Laden because they are military personnel.
Obama Won’t Release bin Laden Photos
The public won’t see pictures of the dead Osama bin Laden after all. Just a day after CIA Director Leon Panetta said the photos would be released, President Obama told 60 Minutes that he has decided not to do so. "It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head... as an incitement to additional violence as a propaganda tool," Obama said. "That's not who we are... We don't trot out this stuff as trophies." The president also said bin Laden was "deserving of the justice that he received" and that Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton agreed with him not to release the photos. Several politicians who have seen the photos—including Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Scott Brown—said they should not be released. But others have demanded they be shown in order to put to rest any doubts that bin Laden had really been killed.
Found on Osama’s Nightstand
New photographs of the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was killed show blood on the floor in the room where he presumably died. One of the photos obtained by ABC News shows a stock of medicines from the house, including petroleum jelly, antiseptic, nasal spray, and eye drops. In the pantry, two cartons of eggs still remain untouched. The backyard of the house contains several jugs of cooking oil.
Osama Had Cash Sewn Into Clothes
Good thing no one tipped him off. Osama bin Laden had 500 Euros in cash and two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing when he was killed, signs he was ready to flee the compound at a moment's notice, Politico reports. The details were told to members of Congress at a classified intelligence briefing on Tuesday. CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers about the cash and contacts in response to a question about why the al Qaeda leader wasn't more heavily guarded. One source at the meetings says it was because bin Laden believed “his network was strong enough he'd get a heads-up” before any U.S. strike against him.
Bin Laden House Worth ‘Far Less’ Than $1M
It was one of the most embarrassing details about the Osama bin Laden raid: the supposedly ascetic bin Laden was hiding out not in a cave but in a million-dollar mansion. But local real-estate experts say that figure was wildly exaggerated. Instead, the somewhat ramshackle property is worth no more than $250,000, they say. "No swimming pool. This is not a posh area. We call it a middling area,” Abbottabad property dealer Muhammad Anwar said. Regardless, the damage done to the compound during Monday’s raid can’t have been good for the property value.
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.
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. “President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday,” his spokesman told The New York Times. “He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight. He continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror.” MSNBC 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 meet 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.
U.S., Pakistan Try to Ease Tensions
The White House reiterated its commitment to Pakistan on Tuesday, as lawmakers said Congress will review and potentially suspend $1.5 billion in annual assistance to Pakistan if they can't explain how Osama bin Laden hid in plain sight for so long. U.S. officials also wanted an explanation: "Either they're involved or incompetent," said CIA Director Leon Panetta. Pakistan, meanwhile, stepped up its criticism of the U.S. raid. "This event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule," the foreign ministry said in a statement. The White House is trying to calm domestic outrage over Pakistan's possibly role in hiding bin Laden while at the same time preserving its partnership with Pakistan in fighting al Qaeda and terrorism. Pakistan may be finding itself in a similar situation. Its rebuke of the raid appears aimed at quieting anger among middle-class Pakistanis at what they see as a violation of Pakistan's sovereign space. Frustration from the United States comes after bin Laden was found not in a cave in the border region, but in a heavily fortified compound in the same town as a military academy. Though the compound may not have been as obvious as it now seems: WikiLeaks documents show U.S. troops were stationed yards away in 2008.
57 Million Watched Obama's bin Laden Speech
President Obama got his largest viewership in his presidency so far Sunday night when he announced the death of Osama bin Laden. About 57 million people tuned in at 11:35 p.m. ET Sunday, compared to 52 million who watched his first State of the Union. To put things in perspective, 82 million watched President George W. Bush's address in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Nearly 68 million watched President Bill Clinton admit to the Monica Lewinsky affair in 1998.
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.