Osama Bin Laden Killed in Pakistan, President Obama Says
Osama bin Laden seen in an undated photo taken from a television image (Photo by Getty Images)
Updated 10 a.m. ET, May 2 For more updates, reaction and analysis on bin Laden’s death, follow our live blog here.
Updated 3:48 a.m. ET, May 2 with burial information | President Obama told the nation Sunday night that Osama bin Laden, long-hunted leader of the al-Qaida terror group and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a firefight in Pakistan following a lengthy intelligence operation. “Justice has been done,” he said.
Read the president’s full statement or watch it here:
Since 9/11, U.S. intelligence teams have been working with allies to capture or kill bin Laden, who had escaped from Afghanistan to Pakistan, President Obama said. “Last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action,” the president said in a late-night address at the White House.
After a firefight, the U.S. team killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and took custody of his body, he said, adding that no Americans were harmed in the operation.
After bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan, senior administration officials said the body would be handled according to Islamic practice and tradition. That practice calls for the body to be buried within 24 hours, the official said. Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted terrorist would have been difficult, the official said. So the U.S. decided to bury him at sea.
An impromptu crowd gathered outside of the White House Sunday night, cheering, waving American flags and holding signs saying, “Ding dong, Osama bin Laden is dead.”
Senior correspondent Margaret Warner reports that there is concern among White House officials tonight, as they watch images of teenage kids in shorts and T-shirts celebrating out front of the building as if the home team won a football game, that this is not the image they want to project abroad at this critical moment, particularly to the Arab world. One noted many of the young people partying out there had been at most 8-10 years old when 9/11 had happened. Said one official: “Perhaps the president should have said, ‘this is not the time for celebration, but for sober reflection and rededication to the principles that guide our resolve.” In short, the pep rally atmosphere is not the image or message the White House wanted to project to Arabs and Muslims around the world as it awakened to the stunning news.
Statements from current and past officials began pouring in shortly after the president’s announcement.
Former President George W. Bush:
“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. 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. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”
Former President Clinton:
“This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida’s other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children. I congratulate the president, the national security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
“New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.:
“I am overjoyed that we finally got the world’s top terrorist. The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement.
“But while we take heart in the news that Osama bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaida and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.:
“I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice. While this is no doubt a major event in our battle against terrorism, we will not relent in our fight against terror and our efforts to keep America safe and secure.”
Former Massachusetts governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
“This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden’s many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.”
The New Yorker: Young Osama by Steve Coll
Reuters: Facts about al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri
The New York Times: How the bin Laden Announcement Leaked Out
News organizations reported that the U.S. dollar strengthened after the announcement. And columnists, such as Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic, noted the likelihood of revenge attacks by al-Qaida and its supporters. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times says President Obama’s deferential tone to Pakistan might be due to concern that Pakistanis would react with outrage over the ambush.
The U.S. State Department on Sunday issued a worldwide alert to American citizens living or traveling abroad to be aware of the potential for anti-American violence:
“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.”