Bin Laden's body buried at sea says report
New York, May 2, 2011
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.
Earlier, bin Laden was killed in a firefight with US forces in Pakistan on Sunday, ending a nearly 10-year worldwide hunt for the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
A source familiar with the US operation said bin Laden was shot in the head. His death was confirmed separately by officials in Pakistan.
Jubilant, flag-waving celebrations erupted in Washington and New York. It was the biggest national security victory for US President Barack Obama since he took office in early 2009 and could give him a political boost as he seeks re-election in 2012.
Obama may now find it easier to wind down the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan, begun after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000.
But the operation could complicate relations with Pakistan already frayed over US drone strikes in the west of the country.
A US official said Pakistani authorities were told the details of the raid after it had taken place.
'We shared this intelligence on the compound with no other country, including Pakistan,' the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The need to maintain the complete secrecy of the operation was cited as the chief reason.
'Pakistan has long understood we are at war with AQ (Al-Qaeda), the US had the legal and moral obligation to act on the information it had,' the official noted.
Obama said US forces led a targeted operation that killed bin Laden in a compound in Abbotabad north of Islamabad. No Americans were killed in the operation and they took care to avoid civilian casualties, he said.
Bin Laden and three adult men, including a son of bin Laden were killed along with a woman who was used as a shield by a male combatant, officials said.
The operation took under 40 minutes. A US helicopter was lost due to a mechanical problem and its crew and assault force safely evacuated.
The operation was monitored in real-time by CIA Director Leon Panetta and other intelligence officials in a conference room at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, an official said.
Senior administration officials said they were finally led to bin Laden after more than four years tracking one of his trusted couriers, and the man's brother, using intelligence obtained from detainees captured after Sept. 11.
They finally identified the men's residence in August 2010, and quickly realized the $1 million, three-storey property was far more than the home of two individuals with no discernible source of wealth.
Authorities said Obama's hideaway, built in 2005, was about eight times larger than other homes in the area, located when it was built at the end of a narrow dirt road. It had security features including 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire, internal walls for extra privacy, and access controlled through two security gates. It had no telephone or Internet connection.
Thousands of people gathered outside the White House, waving American flags, cheering and chanting 'USA, USA, USA.' Car drivers blew their horns in celebration and people streamed to Lafayette Park across from the street, as police vehicles with their lights flashing stood vigil.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the death of bin Laden a 'resounding triumph' for Washington and its allies.
India said the killing underlined its concern that 'terrorists belonging to different organizations find sanctuary in Pakistan,' India's home ministry said in New Delhi. - Reuters