BIN LADEN: The Raid (Update)
Gone in 40 Minutes
Updates with comments at White House press conference by Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan …
More information is starting to trickle out about the U.S. special operations forces raid on a walled compound in Pakistan where al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in a firefight.
About 40 Navy SEALS were flown from Afghanistan to Abbottabad, Pakistan – some 35 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad – aboard at least two helicopters. At a White House news conference Monday, John Brennan, the president’s homeland security adviser, said the SEALs did not go in with orders to kill Bin Laden. He said a course of action was debated and developed over several months to decide: “If he was captured, what would we do with him? Where would he go? If he was killed, what would we do with him, where would he go?”
One of the helos – a CH-47 Chinook – developed mechanical difficulties and made a hard landing inside the compound. Senior Obama administration officials told reporters in a late-night conference call they were “shocked” when they first saw the compound in 2010 surveillance photos. “The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary,” including 12-to-18-foot-high walls topped by barbed wire, few windows and no telephone or internet service, said one official.
The SEALS quickly secured the area. More than 20 rushed the house where Bin Laden was and ordered him to surrender. A gunfight broke out and Bin Laden was drilled through the head (and apparently shot a second time for good measure). Brennan said he didn’t know if Bin Laden “got off any rounds.”
The SEALS then ransacked the house for intelligence data — taking papers and computer hard-drives – then bundled up Bin Laden’s body to take back to Afghanistan for positive identification. They blew up the crippled helo to keep its high tech equipment from falling into the wrong hands and took off. There were no U.S. casualties.
Brennan said Pakistani officials were not informed about the mission until after all U.S. personnel and aircraft had left Pakistani airspace.
It all lasted about 40 minutes. Reportedly Bin Laden and three other men — including one of his adult sons — were among the dead. A woman used as a human shield by one of the al Qaeda types was also killed. She is believed to be one of Bin Laden’s wives, Brennan said.
Remarkably, the one acre compound was in a well-to-do neighborhood only 1,000 yards from Pakistan’s military academy (the equivalent of West Point). News media in India — Pakistan’s neighbor, rival and enemy in three wars — complained the hideout’s location raised new questions about the role of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate – Pakistan’s military intelligence agency — which has long been suspected of having al Qaeda sympathizers within its ranks.
The Indian government said Bin Laden’s hideout deep in Pakistani territory “raised great concern.“
Brennan acknowledged Bin Laden’s presence so close to Islamabad and a major military facility while Pakistani authorities were insisting he was not in their country “raises questions.” But he said the U.S. has a strategic partnership with Pakistan even though “we don’t always agree.”
On another note: a computer programmer who lives in Abbottabad wound up tweeting about the raid (and alerting the world) without really knowing what he was seeing and hearing.
Several U.S. intelligence agencies — including the CIA, National Security Agency and the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Agency — provided key assistance in the operation, the administration officials said.
To avoid creating a symbolic rallying point, Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea “in strict conformity with Islamic precepts and practices,” Brennan said. He declined to say specifically whether an imam or other any clergy presided at the body’s dispatch.
There was debate within the White House over whether to release photos of the slain terrorist leader, Brennan said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure nobody has any basis to deny that we got him,” headded.
At least some Muslim religious leaders and scholars say disposal at sea was not in keeping with Islamic law and may actually be seen as an insult by some Muslims, presenting the possibility of retaliation, the Guardian newspaper in Britain reported.
Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Homeland Security, National Security and Defense, Pakistan, Special Operations, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Afghanistan, Army, CIA, Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, Defense, helicopter, military aviation, Navy, Navy SEALS, Osama Bin Laden, Special Operations.