Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 1, 2011

Reports: Osama Bin Laden Killed

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on May 1, 2011

Justice has been done.  Bin Laden is dead.

At approximately 11:40 PM EST, President Obama addressed the nation to tell it that Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and the force behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, was dead.  U.S. officials allegedly have his body.

Bin Laden’s rage against the U.S. did not start on 9/11 but included deadly attacks in Somalia (1993), bombings in Africa (1998) and the attack on the USS Cole (2000).

The death comes ten years after those attacks which united the nation and changed how we traveled, observed our surroundings, and viewed the world.

The unity we saw after 9/11 diminished in a way that very few of us should be proud of but the scene tonight from outside the White House is one of a re-unified America.

As a country, we owe thanks to the operatives and military who took on this mission and never gave up, despite the danger.

Bin Laden’s death ends a chapter in American history but also opens a new one.  Now, more than ever before, our intelligence and homeland security operations will be critical going forward. From preparedness at the state and local level to complex intelligence information sharing mechanisms, the U.S. must be alert and ready for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who would do us harm.

As Bin Laden’s death demonstrates, the U.S. will not tolerate terrorism and will doggedly pursue those who would do us harm.

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Comment by Arnold Bogis

May 1, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

The President’s remarks, both a video and transcript, can be found here:


Comment by Donald Quixote

May 1, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

Time shall tell if it was better to have UBL marginalized through constant pressure and operational interference or as a perceived martyr to many of his followers. Will his death result in increased attacks or responses by the AQ franchises or demoralize them in the long run?

Will parts of the world view the current reaction outside of the White House grounds in same the way that we viewed the supportive reactions and demonstrations to the 9/11 attacks in several places in the Muslim world? It shall be interesting to observe, interpret and analyze.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 2, 2011 @ 4:51 am

Local reports in Pakistan (and India) indicate the firefight that ended in bin-Laden being killed occurred less than one mile from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, their equivalent of West Point. Reports in the US and European press do not always, however, place the AQ compound quite that close to the military establishment. This will be clarified soon enough, and in any case, quite different from a dank cave or an obscure safe house in Quetta.

The Telegraph is reporting it was a team of Navy Seals that made the insertion. US reports are, so far, not identifying the unit. US official sources emphasize the action was unilateral. (Other media are reporting it was a joint special operations team, heavy with Seals, but including other units and was operationally directed by CIA.)

Some in Pakistan are claiming a joint bi-national operation (which is highly unlikely). According to several local reports a Pakistani military helicopter did crash near Kakul at roughly the same time as the US operation. (See: http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/02/senior-isi-official-confirms-bin-laden-killed.html) The White House has said a US helicopter landed due to mechanical failure. Local media in Pakistan indicate the US helicopter was purposefully destroyed before it’s crew was extricated.

The reported decision to bury the body in the sea is interesting, obviously intended to discourage any place of veneration.

I was beginning to perceive a resurgence of AQ-related activity — in Indonesia, Germany, Morocco, and elsewhere — and speculating there was a specific effort underway to reclaim attention in the midst of the Arab Spring (and perhaps in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11). If so, any existing tactical plans will probably be accelerated by his death and capture. The Pakistan-in-Taliban have, supposedly, threatened revenge attacks on US and Pakistani targets.

Comment by J.

May 2, 2011 @ 6:52 am

Hopefully our new chapter will be on a sustainable and affordable homeland security approach that doesn’t require us to be strip-searched at airports. Looking forward to a better future as bin Laden burns in hell.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 2, 2011 @ 6:53 am

The Telegraph (of London) has generated a Google earthview map showing the proximity of the AQ compound to the Pakistan Military Academy.

Please see: Kakul Awami Road Vicinity

While proximity does not prove complicity, it certainly raises plenty of questions

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 2, 2011 @ 7:07 am

THE UBL story has yet to be fully recorded. Perhaps in another decade. Note that his frustration was first with the Royals in Saudi Arabia and that has not changed. Also the Arab Spring in MENA may have generated new hatred and frustrations that now may accelerate with the death of UBL. My belief is that the President should NOT have made the announcement and let the Arab world do so. I am not sure how burial at sea will pay in the world of ISLAM! Is this considered “desecration” in that religion? Would it be in some Christian sects or Judiasm?

But the chase for UBL will go down in history as one expensive expenditure of money and resources to obtain the death of a single person. I find it interesting that at this time NO indication of betrayal by UBL’s followers despite a large reward posted for years. But who knows if there was a tipoff!

An event that should be totally marked by serious and sober reflection and not celebration.

Amazing how one man did in fact change the course of history! For worse IMO but who knows what the 1.8 billion followers of Islam think or those who hate American policy for its ignorance, egotism, hubris, and pretend “exceptionalism”!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 2, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

Well… maybe Pakistani involvement is not as unlikely as I thought. According to the Telegraph:

Hillary Clinton has moved to quash accusations that Pakistani authorities knew bin Laden’s whereabouts, telling reporters that the country’s counter-terrorism officials helped lead the US to his compound. Speaking at the State Department on Monday, the US Secretary of State thanked Pakistan for its cooperation and said that country “has contributed greatly to our efforts to dismantle al-Qaida.” She said that “in fact, cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound in which he was hiding.”

This was beyond her prepared remarks and I have not yet seen the Secretary of State’s full set of remarks.

Comment by Donald Quixote

May 2, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

It may depend on your definition of “involvement”. It may be politically and diplomatically correct to thank various partners to maintain their positions and powers.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 2, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

The basic question to be answered in the next few weeks is not whether Pakistani officialdom was complicit in the UBL safe harbor but what exactly the ground rules were in fact–meaning was UBL allowed to stay operational at any level? If he was then who agreed to that role in the Pakistani government? And did the USA know of such agreement or just suspect such? A very very complicated puzzle IMO!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 2, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

Some corrections, clarifications, or at least additional information:

Politico has a bit on the context for Secretary Clinton’s remarks sharing credit with Pakistan. See Pakistan has contributed.

But according to the White House briefing on the Abbottabad operation, whatever Pakistan’s “contribution”, it was not involved yesterday.

We shared our intelligence on this Bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan. That was for one reason and one reason alone: We believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance. Shortly after the raid, US officials contacted senior Pakistani leaders to brief them on the intent and the results of the raid. We have also contacted a number of our close allies and partners throughout the world.

John Brennan was even more direct saying, ““We are looking right now at how he was able to hold out there for so long and whether or not there was any type of support system within Pakistan that allowed him to stay there.”

The White House has made a full transcript of the briefing available on its website.

The Guardian has a map of the AQ compound that shows it southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy, while the Telegraph (above) showed it northwest of the PAM. The Guardian map is a PDF that seemed to take a long time to load.

And talking about a long-time to load, the website for DAWN one of the principal English-language newspapers in Pakistan has been just about inaccessible all day long. One DAWN piece worth reading is headlined: Pak military caught in the crossfire. It is a political and diplomatic crossfire.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 3, 2011 @ 1:25 am

The test now is not what the USA and its polity thinks about UBL and his being dead. The test is what the rest of the world thinks and in particular the Islamic world. I think by the end of this coming weekend we may well have more insights into that thinking. The number 2 in AQ has always worried me more than UBL. His present whereabouts also unknown for now.

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