Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was shot dead deep inside Pakistan in a night-time helicopter raid by US covert forces, ending a decade-long manhunt for the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
“Justice has been done,” President Barack Obama declared in a dramatic televised address late Sunday, sparking raucous celebrations across the United States, after an operation that officials said lasted less than 40 minutes.
World leaders welcomed the news of bin Laden’s killing but warned that Al-Qaeda’s willingness to wreak havoc was undimmed and that the possibility of reprisal attacks meant vigilance was more important than ever.
Pakistan’s main Taliban faction Monday threatened to attack Pakistan and the United States, calling them “the enemies of Islam”.
End of live updates
Osama bin Laden’s British step-grandson said Monday he found out about the terror chief’s death through a text message which read: “Your grandad is dead. Watch the news.”
Bin Laden’s fourth son Omar, 30, married British woman Jane Felix-Browne, 54, in 2007. Married several times before, she is now known as Zaina Alsabah-bin Laden.
The couple were not at home Monday and her son Dean Lomas said they were currently abroad. Neighbours said they had not been seen for more than a week.
Lomas said he learned of developments during the night thanks to a text message from a friend then checked it out on the Internet.
He said: “It read ‘Your grandad is dead. Watch the news’.
“The grandad thing is a bit of a running joke with everyone.
“I went on my Facebook page and news of his death was all over it.”
Lomas said he had not yet spoken to his mother about the al Qaeda leader’s death.
She has previously insisted that her husband had no contact with his father since they were both in Afghanistan in 2000.
The mansion where Osama bin Laden was killed in a surgical raid was a bloodstained mess with overturned furniture and blood-soaked carpeting, US television footage showed Monday.
Footage broadcast the day after the raid by US network ABC showed blood on the floor in one room of the Abbottabad house and broken computers stripped of their hard drives in another.
The grainy and somewhat shaky film footage shows what appears to be a massive hole in the exterior wall of the building. A disheveled platform bed was also seen in the now ramshackle dwelling.
The images were the first to be broadcast since the assault Sunday to Monday when a US Navy SEAL team dropped from helicopters into the heavily fortified villa bin Laden used as a hideout.
Islam is opposed to burials at sea, a spokesman for Al-Azhar, the top Sunni Muslim authority, said on Monday after US officials said Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been given a watery grave.
“If it is true that the body was thrown into the sea, then Islam is totally against that,” Mahmud Azab, an adviser to the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, told AFP.
“Any corpse, if it belongs to someone murdered or someone who died of natural causes, must be respected,” said Azab, the adviser to Al-Azhar’s chief for inter-religious affairs.
“The bodies of believers and non-believers, Muslim or Christian, must be respected,” he said, adding that Tayeb was due to issue a formal statement.
“Islam only accepts burials” unless it is inevitable like for those who drowned, he said.
The Cairo-based Al-Azhar is the most prestigious centre of religious learning in the Sunni Muslim world.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking to the media, said that the operation had been a “broad, deep and impressive effort”.
The United States will continue to “take the fight” to the Taliban in Afghanistan following the US killing of Osama bin Laden, she said.
Clinton said that the partnership and close cooperation with Pakistan had helped put pressure on al Qaeda and that continued cooperation was important in the coming days. She went on to add that the fight against al Qaeda will not end with the death of bin Laden.
“You cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice of abandoning al Qaeda,” said Clinton in her message to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Eye-witnesses spoke to Reuters and recapped a firsthand view of the operation
“We rushed to the rooftop and saw flames near that house. We also heard some gunshots,” said Mohammad Idrees, who lives about 400 metres from the compound.
“Soon after the blast, we saw military vehicles rushing to the site.”
Pakistani soldiers stopped reporters approaching the compound, which was surrounded by a fabric or canvas screen.
Television pictures from inside the house showed blood stains smeared across a floor next to a bed.
Another resident, Nasir Khan, said commandos had encircled the compound as three helicopters hovered overhead.
“All of a sudden there was firing towards the helicopters from the ground,” said Khan, who watched the drama unfold from his roof.
“There was intense firing and then I saw one of the helicopters crash.”
Residents said they were astounded to learn bin Laden had been in their midst. One neighbour said an old man had been living in the compound for the past 10 years.
“He never mixed much, he kept a low profile,” said the neighbour, Zahoor Ahmed.
“It’s hard to believe bin Laden was there. We never saw any extraordinary movements,” said another neighbour, Adress Ahmed.
Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon considered the real mastermind of the global terror franchise, is now set to succeed Osama bin Laden as the world’s most wanted man.
Zawahiri has been hiding ever since the United States declared its war on terror after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
While bin Laden was seen as al Qaeda’s inspiration, his deputy is believed to be the real brains that steered operations, including the September 11 attacks, and as a result arguably even more dangerous.
The former eye surgeon’s position as bin Laden’s main strategist and mentor earned the 59-year-old a $25 million bounty on his head.
CIA director Leon Panetta warned that terrorist groups “almost certainly” will try to avenge bin Laden’s killing.
“The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must — and will — remain vigilant and resolute,” he said.
In the backdrop of killing of al Qaeda leader, Inspector General of Sindh Police Fayyaz Ahmad Laghari ordered police to further beef up the security in whole Sindh province.
The US special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al Qaeda mastermind, not capture him, a US national security official told Reuters.
“This was a kill operation,” the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.
Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Amir Haider Khan Hoti has said that the provincial government was not aware of the operation against Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
“Groups allied with Al-Qaeda are expected to react,” Rahimullah Yusufzai, an expert on tribal affairs, told AFP.
“They will not let this loss go un-noticed, and their Jihadist allies and Pakistani Taliban will show some reaction by conducting suicide attacks.”
President Hamid Karzai called on Taliban guerrillas to learn a lesson from bin Laden and stop fighting.
Violence is at record levels and the militia at the weekend announced the start of the new fighting season.
Imran Khan reaction
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf Chief, Imran Khan has said that the United States should end its counter-terror operations in Pakistan after Bin Laden’s death.
He said that so far 34,000 people had been killed as a result of drone strikes and added that the strikes were the cause of a surge in suicide attacks.
According to a report in the Telegraph, Bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea under heavy security.
Burying bin Laden’s body at sea would ensure that his final resting place does not become a shrine and a place of pilgrimage for his followers.
US officials said the CIA tracked bin Laden to his location, then elite troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counterterrorism unit, flew to the hideout in four helicopters.
Bin Laden was shot in the head in an ensuing firefight, these officials said, adding that he and his guards had resisted his attackers.
US personnel identified him by facial recognition, the official said, declining to say whether DNA analysis had also been used.
Iran said on Monday the death of Osama bin Laden has removed “any excuse” for the United States and its allies for deploying forces in the Middle East under the pretext of fighting terrorism, AFP reports.
Former President General Pervez Musharaf says Osama bin Laden’s death is good news for Pakistan – but terms it as a direct violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
In an exclusive interview with Express News, the former president said Osama had declared a war against Pakistan.
He believes that instead of a covert operation by the US troops, Pakistan’s Special Operations Task Force should have carried out the operation.
The Pakistani Taliban threatened attacks against government leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan army and the United States on Monday, after the killing of Osama bin Laden in the country.
“Now Pakistani rulers, President Zardari and the army will be our first targets. America will be our second target,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The Palestinian rebel group Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior”, Reuters reports.
“We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, told reporters.
Though he noted doctrinal differences between bin Laden’s al Qaeda and Hamas, Haniyeh said
“We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs.”
Pakistan’s main Taliban faction on Monday threatened to attack Pakistan and the United States after the US confirmed that Osama bin Laden had been killed near the Pakistani capital, AFP reports.
TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan spoke to AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location and said:
“If he has been martyred, we will avenge his death and launch attacks against American and Pakistani governments and their security forces,”
“These people are in fact the enemies of Islam,” he added.
The Taliban spokesman said the militia had not itself managed to confirm bin Laden’s death, which was announced by US President Barack Obama.
“If he has become a martyr, it is a great victory for us because martyrdom is the aim of all of us.”
As the world braces for a militant backlash after Bin Laden’s death, supporters of his violent campaign took to militant Internet sites to vow revenge.
“The lions will remain lions and will continue moving in the footsteps of Osama. O Allah, America will not enjoy safety and security until we live it in Palestine,” one user wrote on the Shumukh al-Islam forum.
“The celebrations are amusing. Cheer all you want infidel, you only have a limited amount of time in this life in which to do it,” another wrote.
While some experts said that bin Laden’s death would damage al Qaeda’s brand image, and perhaps lead the organisation to fracture still further along geographical lines, most predicted attacks would continue.
“The United States will unfortunately suffer, because militants have a tendency to avenge their slain chiefs,” warned Matthieu Guidere, a French academic who specialises in the Arab world.
Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland Yemen on Monday welcomed his death as “the beginning of the end of terror” while his acolytes called it a “catastrophe” but vowed to keep up jihad, or holy war.
“We hope the killing of Bin Laden will be the beginning of the end of terror,” a Yemeni government official said, asking not to be identified.
Saudi and Yemeni al Qaeda branches merged in January 2009 to form the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and have been posing a serious threat to US interests as well as Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A member of AQAP on Monday admitted to AFP that the chief of the extremist network had been killed, calling it a “catastrophe.”
3: 35 pm
India seized on the killing of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan on Monday, saying it showed once again that its long-standing rival remained a haven for militants, AFP reports.
“We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the fire fight in which Osama Bin Laden was killed took place in Abbotabad “deep inside Pakistan”,” Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said in a statement.
Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that roads leading up to US consulate in Karachi are patrolled heavily by security vehicles.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan said US operation should end now that Osama bin Laden is dead, reports Express 24/7.
With the killing of Osama bin Laden on Sunday, al Qaeda has suffered a body blow but US officials and analysts said the damaged terror network could still stage a devastating attack, AFP reports.
In announcing the US operation that killed Al-Qaeda’s architect at a Pakistan compound, President Barack Obama said “no doubt that Al-Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us” and vowed to remain “vigilant.”
Japan, a key US ally, on Monday welcomed the death of Osama bin Laden and said it would step up security at military bases in case of possible reprisal attacks.
“We welcome this significant progress in counter-terrorism measures, and I pay respect to the efforts by the officials concerned, including those in the United States and Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
NATO’s chief hailed the death of Osama bin Laden on Monday but said the alliance will continue its mission in Afghanistan to prevent it becoming a terrorist haven again.
Talking to Express 24/7, Major Gen (R) Jamshed Ayaz said it is a big event for Pakistan and the US and that America has exploited it with Obama coming on TV but our govt has not done any such thing.
He said the operation is hardly of any importance but that the intelligence is extremely important.
He feels that Pakistan should take credit for this and should not be afraid of a backlash. “We must prepare for it,” he added.
“The PM should have come out and said what the army, ISI have done and given the govt credit, but the government is not politically astute.”
He feels that if the US was solely responsible for the operation, the question then falls to Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday called on Taliban guerrillas to learn a lesson from the death of Osama bin Laden and stop fighting against his US-backed administration.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday hailed the killing of Osama bin Laden as a “great outcome in the fight against evil.”
“The world has been waiting for this news for 10 years,” Berlusconi said.
“This is a great outcome in the fight against evil, in the fight against terrorism, a great outcome for the United States and for all democracies.”
The death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a “decisive step in the fight against international terrorism,” the Spanish government said Monday.
“The government considers the death of Osama bin Laden in an operation by US special forces and secret services to be a decisive step in the fight against international terrorism and wants to congratulate US President Barack Obama and his government and armed forces,” it said in a statement.
Local resident of Abbottabad told Express 24/7 that the helicopters made a deafening sound and flew over their heads.
He said that there was shelling and sounds of loud blasts as the choppers went towards the city and circled surrounding areas.
“We were terrified,” he said. “We were told to stay away in case we get hit.”
Here is the Foreign Office’s statement regarding the death of Osama bin Laden:
In an intelligence driven operation, Osama Bin Laden was killed in the surroundings of Abbottabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.
Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Laden.
Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years.
More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan’s campaign against al Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.
It is Pakistan’s stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan’s political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.
From Robert Fisk’s account of meeting Bin Laden:
Osama bin Laden – in the only meal I took with him – was more ascetic.
“We will now pray and then eat,” he announced the last time I met him, on a mountain in Afghanistan. There were many prayers – not by me – but little food.
Bin Laden sat next to me on the ground, a tablecloth laid on the bare earth in front of us, mosquitoes swooping from the hot sky. He sipped hot sweet tea, he ate white cheese on top of the big, floppy naan bread so popular in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he bit at an onion head and he drank yoghurt.
Then he went back to his tent to warn me that he prayed to God that He would permit him – Bin Laden – and his followers “to turn America into a shadow of itself”.
Robert Fisk is a noted war correspondent and the author of Pity the Nation and The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. He is one of the few reporters to have interviewed Osama bin Laden.
According to Reuters, the body of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was taken to Afghanistan after he was killed in Pakistan and was later buried at sea, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The Express Tribune’s executive editor M Ziauddin told Express 24/7 that Pakistan would like to be seen as not having helped in this operation because it would be the immediate target for the terrorist network – America is too far way.
Pakistan’s foreign office issued a statement that Pakistani forces did not take part in this operation.
Express 24/7 correspondent Sumera Khan says that the draft released by the foreign office is “very carefully drafted” as the officials took time to make a public statement.
Khan says military is deliberately staying away from this matter and is not indulging in media statements.
Express 24/7 anchor Quatrina Hussain says OBL compound is a “treasure trove” for intelligence agencies in terms of the information that they can obtain.
An Inter-Services Intelligence spokesperson tells The Express Tribune that it was a highly sensitive intelligence operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, however he was not at liberty to provide any more details at the moment.
|Wafaqul Madaris spokesperson Abdul Quddus tells The Express Tribune that there have been no instructions issued to madaris in Pakistan as yet in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death. A statement – with possible instructions – is expected within the day.|
Lieutenant Gen (R) Hameed Gul told Express 24/7 that Osama may have been in Pakistan for treatment, but that his presence raises questions about the Pakistan intelligence’s ability.
Gul asks why the news was kept a secret if US officials knew about Osama’s whereabouts snice August 2010. He said that the secrecy and timing of the news was planned.
Gul was critical of America’s operation in Abbottabad, saying the message being given out is that
“America can come in at will and attack any target Pakistan ,” and added that “They have hoodwinked us, they want to go for Pakistan’s nuclear targets.”
Gul says there will be a backlash from al Qaeda if it transpires that Pakistan helped the US in this operation. Pakistan has not been targeted by al Qaeda previously, and Gul maintained that Bin Laden has “looked kindly” upon the country.
Israel on Monday celebrated the assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden at the hands of US forces in Pakistan as a “resounding victory for justice.”
“The state of Israel joins the American people on this historic day in celebrating the elimination of Osama Bin Laden,” Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office, according to AFP.
Express 24/7 correspondent Sumera Khan says the injured are now being treated at a nearby hospital.
Shahzad Ahmed Mir defence analyst told Express 27/4 that he feels Bin Laden’s death will “not mean a lot” as far as the al Qaeda war is concerned. According to Mir, he was only symbolic on most fronts, Zawahiri and others are already doing the job for him.
“A dead Bin Laden is more valuable to his followers than living one. It will give further impetus to his followers,” he said.
Mir said that no operation on Pakistan can take place without permission of Pakistani security officials and that he feels that the US provided only air support.
World is a safer place without Bin Laden, prime minister of New Zealand prime minister.
Afghan officials confirm that Bin Laden is dead.
11: 40 am
CBS news reports that Bin Laden was killed after being shot in the head.
Express 24/7 correspondent Huma Imtiaz reports from Washington that Osama Bin Laden may reportedly be buried at sea.
Security analyst Brig (R) Mehmood Shah told Express 24/7 that Osama’s death is a most opportune time for Obama because he is now getting into re-election and this incident really boosts his chances.
Brig Shah said Bin Laden’s death is a big setback for the al Qaeda network as he was an iconic figure for them and inspirational head for small terrorist organisations depicted to be working on behalf of al Qaeda.
According to Brig Shah, Zawahiri’s capture, if true, is good news as he would have been the next in line leader for the al Qaeda network.
He said that Pakistan should go on high alert immediately.
Express 24/7 correspondent Sumera Khan reports that DG ISI Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha is due to meet President Zardari today for a one on one meeting and will convey General Kayani’s message. They will decide on a statement that will be issued to the nation.
11: 20 am
Express 24/7 correspondent Sumera Khan reports that people in Abbottabad are stunned at the operation that took place early Monday morning, and that the mood in the area “is not celebratory.”
Osama’s death is good news: Iran
Brigadier (Rtd) Ghazanfar speaking to Express 24/7 says specialists always conduct such operations, while the Pakistan Army will assist in cordoning the area, conducting investigations, making arrests and it is impossible the Army was not kept in the loop.
Defence analyst Brigadier (Rtd) Ghazanfar speaking to Express 24/7 says al Qaeda is a professional organization and will develop new leadership to replace Osama Bin Laden.
Express 24/7 correspodent reports from near the mansion where the operation took place, and says that locals say two brothers were living there for 7 years, in a double story home guarded by a sophisticated security system.
Locals say they have just met two persons who were brothers and have not seen other people living in that house.
Al Jazeera reports that Bin Laden’s body has been taken to Bagram Base in Afghanistan.
Details emerged that a helicopter that had been downed at 1.30AM on Monday morning in Abbottabad was in fact a US military chopper which was part of the operation to nab Bin Laden.
Initial reaction in Pakistan has been muted to the news but many are questioning the role of the Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies in the raid and also speculating on the possibility that Osama may have been dead at the time of the American operation.
Officials in Islamabad have privately confirmed that Apache military helicopters based in an army training centre near Abbottabad, which is used by American instructors to train Pakistani pilots, was where the operation was launched from.
One of the helicopters was hit by rocket launchers at 1.30AM Pakistan local time. “That was the time the operation was launched,” said a report in the Express News.
Officials have also said that all those in the compound in Abbottabad, which was located next to the Pakistan Military Academy – an institution where army cadets are trained.
Other analysts have said that most al Qaeda high profile figures have been found or arrested from within major urban centers in Pakistan.
Local authorities say that at least 20 people were killed in the attack. These included Pakistani and Arab-origin persons. This could not be independently confirmed.
On Monday morning, following the US operation, local police and military personnel cordoned off the area where the raid took place.
Residents and media could not gain access to the compound. Residents were frightened after sounds were heard and helicopters.
Khan reports that Bin Laden’s eldest son was killed in the operation along with Bin Laden. Military and govt have not given official statement confirming any deaths.
Khan reports that the operation was led by US forces in Bilal Town area of Sikandrabad in Abbottabad.
Express 24/7 correspondent says no statement has come from the Pakistani government regarding Bin Laden’s death.
The death of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden will bring “great relief” across the world, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday. “Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen – for 9/11 and for so many attacks, which have cost thousands of lives, many of them British. It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror,” Cameron said in a statement.
Express 24/7 correspondent Sumera Khan reports that Bin Laden’s right hand man Aymen al Zawahiri has also allegedly been arrested but the news has not been confirmed by the government or military.
Khan reports that Bin Laden’s two wives, and six kids are also captured, according to Pakistani sources.
A US operation that killed Osama Bin Laden on Sunday also left three men and a woman dead, including a son of the as Qaeda chief, officials told AFP.
Obama also acknowledged the help of the Pakistan intelligence agencies in the capture and mentioned that he had spoken to President Zardari following the operation.
This implied that the American operation had tacit Pakistani support and cooperation.