By Jide Ajani, with agency reports –
NINE years, seven months and 20 days after the carnage that has become known as 9/11, the chief mastermind of the event, Osama Bin Laden, 54, was killed, Sunday night.
He was killed in an operation by about two dozen Navy Seals in Abbottabad, 30 miles north of Islamabad, capital of Pakistan.
United States President, Barrack Obama, who confirmed Bin Laden’s killing at 11:30pm (American time) through a nationally televised broadcast, said he died in a fire fight. Obama also acknowledged the co-operation of the Pakistani government towards the success of the operation.
Bin Laden was shot in the head, not in a cave but in a million dollar mansion.
Before his death, a $25million bounty was on his head for whoever would provide useful information that would lead to his arrest. He was also the world’s most wanted man.
Body buried at sea
His body is said to have since been buried at sea.
Four other persons were reportedly killed in the operation – his son, a woman said to be his youngest wife and two couriers who were with him.
The operation, which involved four helicopters – including two Black Hawk helicopters – was an invasion style sting operation carried out with precision by American forces on Pakistani soil. One of the helicopters crashed and was said to have been quickly destroyed by US forces for security reasons.
In his broadcast, Obama said “Justice has been done.”
But former United States President George Bush said: “It is victory for America.”
For former President Bill Clinton, “it is a profoundly important moment for people all over the world who want to build a common future for peace, freedom and cooperation.”
Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel described it as a “resounding triumph for democratic nations fighting terrorism.”
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: “It brings great relief and Bin Laden can no longer pursue his campaign of global terror.”
Build up to an invasion
Those in the know: The Inner Circle
Intelligence was not shared with any other country until after the operation. In fact, only a few people in the Obama administration knew about the operation.
*At the head is President Barrack Obama
*General David Petreaus, who is being tipped to be nominated to head the CIA
*Bob Gates, Defence Minister, who served with former President George Bush and who is said to be on his way out of the administration!
*Tom Donnelly, National Security Adviser, NSA
*Leon Paneta CIA Director
There were other members of the Security Council also involved in the planning and discussions leading to the operation.
President Obama said he got intelligence in August last year that Bin Laden was hiding in a house deep inside Pakistan. However, other facts emerging suggest that the build up was as far back as four years ago.
Some of the terror detainees had revealed that some couriers were working with Bin Laden. The revelation was to prove useful. The first revelation was the nick name of one of the couriers as revealed by detainees.
This was four years ago. Two years later, the real name of the courier was established, and in August last year, the residence where the courier operates from in Pakistan, specifically Abbottabad, was located.
That was the house where Bin Laden was eventually killed. Then from March, this year, President Obama chaired security meetings with a few inner circle Security Council members to finalize the strategy for the capture or killing of Bin Laden.
President Obama disclosed in his televised broadcast that he had given a capture_or_kill order. He said: “And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.”
Therefore, five of such meetings were reportedly held in this order:
Monday, March 14, 2011; Tuesday, March 29, 2011; Tuesday, April 12, 2011; Tuesday, April 19, 2011; and Thursday, April 28, 2011. As the world watched the royal wedding last Friday, April 29, 2011, President Obama gave the go ahead for the operation.
The operation was said to have involved some “extra-ordinary process of targeting and invasion.”
Contingency plans were said to have been put in place should anything go wrong. Four US helicopters – including two Black Hawk models of the Somalia fame – were used for the operation. The helicopters crossed from Afghanistan into Abbottabad, Pakistan.
There was anxiety about the operation and President Obama had good cause to be anxious – similar helicopter operations were carried out, one in the late 1970s in Iran, and another in Mogadishu, Somalia in early 1990s, and both ended in operational calamities for the US.
Making the operation more dangerous was the fact that the Navy Seal personnel were to be dropped into the compound from the helicopters clinging to a rope.
Bin Laden was said to have resisted arrest and the fire fight ensued. The woman who was killed in the fire fight was reportedly used as a “human shield.”
Bin Laden received a shot in the head while the operation lasted forty minutes.
After the operation, Obama personally called former President George Bush and Bill Clinton to inform them of the operation. Obama’s aides also called other world leaders after the operation.
The operation was also said to have been practised before they went into the building where he was hiding.
Part of what has also come to light is that the US military does not have legal authority to operate on Pakistani soil but the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, does and, therefore, Leon Paneta, the CIA Director, reportedly oversaw the operation.
Why it took so long
In the hunt for Bin Laden the terror leader was thought to be in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
As part of American strategy to capture or kill Bin Laden, financial aid was provided to the Pakistani intelligence community in the hope that Pakistan would help arrest Bin Laden.
But some elements in the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, were said to have sympathies for Bin Laden and others had ideological leaning towards his cause. To hand him over would have meant a stop to the aids coming in from the Americans. To also hand him over would have been seen as a betrayal of a Muslim brother.
Attempts to kill him first failed in Somalia where a chemical factory was bombed because it was mistaken for his hide out. Some of his training compounds too were bombed in Afghanistan but Bin Laden was always elusive.
Then two more attempts were made sometime between 2001 and 2004 in Tora Bora, Afghanistan.
He sent out messages from time to time commenting on contemporary issues. It had been a while since he last released any messages, especially as there were expectations that he would comment on the Arab uprisings.
A former CIA Officer, Gary Bernsten, who in fact led the initial attempt to capture Bin Laden in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, said: “Pakistan has 24 known militant groups. There are 900,000 people said to have been trained in militant camps.”
Abbottabad, the city, and the house
In Pakistan itself, which is a country of 175million people, the city of Abbottabad is some 30 miles North of Islamabad and 120 miles from Waziristan caves where Osama Bin Laden was initially thought to be hiding.
It is a tourist hub and most of the residents of the area where Bin Laden’s mansion is located are retired military officers. There is also a military training institution located in the city. The population is about one million.
The three story building in the compound where Bin Laden was arrested was said to have been built about five years ago, and it is surrounded by a five_metre high wall with barbed wire – it also has special security features.
The building is about eight times the size of other buildings around it and it is said to cost about $1million. Attention was drawn to the building by couriers going in and out and because of some other peculiar observations.
The building had no internet or telephone service. For a fancy house without internet or telephone facilities, this was a give away observation. Another give away sign, according to reports was that whereas neighbours took out their trash, residents of this marked compound burned trash.
President Obama on bin Laden
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.
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.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbours a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda _ an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counter-terrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defence.
Taliban commander vows to avenge Bin Laden’s death
A TALIBAN commander in Afghanistan has promised that his fighters would mount attacks to avenge the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden.
The commander, who gave his name as Qudos and operates in the northern province of Baghlan, said: “The killing of Osama bin Laden will bring no change to jihad. Osama is the leader of al-Qaida and he is a powerful man in jihad.
Losing him will be very painful for the mujahideen, but the shahadat (martyrdom) of Osama, will never stop the jihad. We will continue our fight until we liberate our lands from the Kafirs.”
He said his fighters planned to launch an operation called Bader “to avenge the killing of Osama” and claimed many other similar operations would be launched.
A Taliban fighter – who had what seemed like a British accent but said he was Afghan said there was still a lot of suspicion among the Taliban about whether the news of bin Laden’s death was true. He added: “Even if he is dead, I don’t think it will make any difference to our fight. He is just one of thousands of fighters, and from a different organisation.”
A Yemeni jihadi who goes by the name of Omar claimed the death of bin Laden would not stop al-Qaida insurgents mounting attacks. He said: “I am not fighting for bin Laden to stop fighting if he is killed, we are not people who worship figures, he is a brave man who created and led the jihad but it will not stop here and now look what is happening with all the dictators, they are falling because we have been fighting them for so long and that’s thanks to the ways of the Sheikh the shahid (the Sheikh the martyr).