President Obama: “A good day for America”
Proudly declaring the killing of Osama bin Laden “a good day for America,” President Barack Obama said Monday the world was a safer place without the world’s most hunted terrorist.
Osama bin Laden, the elusive terror mastermind killed by Navy SEALs in an intense firefight, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe, officials disclosed Monday. The U.S. said a DNA match proved his identity, and millions of Americans rejoiced.
Three U.S. officials say American forces were led to Osama bin Laden by his most trusted courier, a Kuwaiti-born man named Sheikh Abu Ahmed. Ahmed was a shadowy figure for U.S. intelligence, someone it took many years to identify. For a long time, intelligence officials knew him only by his nom de guerre, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. The first indications about his significance came from CIA detainees shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Ahmed and his brother were killed in the same predawn raid Monday that left bin Laden dead.
Obama signed an order on Friday for a team of SEALs to chopper onto the compound under the cover of darkness. In the ensuing 48 hours, the president toured tornado-damaged Alabama and delivered a joke-filled after-dinner speech to the White House Correspondents Association. When the operation got under way, though, he slid into his chair in the Situation Room in the White House, where Brennan said the president and his aides “were able to monitor in a real-time basis the progress of the operation” from beginning to end. Brennan strongly suggested a live video feed was available.
After the gunfire, U.S. forces swept bin Laden’s fortified compound in Pakistan and left with a trove of hard drives, DVDs and other documents that officials said the CIA was already poring over. The hope: clues leading to his presumed successor, al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Pakistan’s foreign office is hailing Osama bin Laden’s death, but some in the country are reacting angrily. There has been no sign of a major backlash, but at least one Islamist political party did stage a protest in the southwestern city of Quetta. More than 100 party members shouted, “Down with America! Down with Obama!”
Halfway around the world, a prominent al-Qaida commentator vowed revenge for bin Laden’s death. “Woe to his enemies. By God, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam,” he wrote under his online name Assad al-Jihad2. “Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them: Let us wait a little bit.”
Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam rally to condemn killing of Osama bin Laden in Quetta, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011.
In Afghanistan, where bin Laden was given refuge by the country’s previous Taliban rulers, local officials erupted in applause when President Hamid Karzai told them the news. “(His hands) were dipped in the blood of thousands and thousands of children, youths and elders of Afghanistan,” Karzai told reporters, and repeated his claim that that the fight against terrorism should not be fought in Afghan villages, but across the border in hideouts in Pakistan where bin Laden was killed.
Americans awoke on Monday to a world without Osama bin Laden, and many felt jubilation, a surge of patriotism and a sense that their prayers had been answered and that the U.S. had finally avenged the nearly 3,000 people killed nearly a decade ago on Sept. 11, 2001. But to many — including some of the same Americans glad to see bin Laden dead — the news didn’t make them feel safer. It led to uncertainty and fear.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Bomb K-9 Threat Interdiction Unit handler, Kiley Hayden and his dog “XXZYLO”’ sniffs a subway train at Los Angeles Union Station, Monday, May 2, 2011. Hours after the announcement that terrorist Osama bin Laden had been killed in a firefight near Pakistan’s capital, security was heightened in many areas that could be considered potential targets for terrorist attacks.
Tara Bane-DellaCorte, whose husband Michael A. Bane died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, visits the Garden of Reflection memorial to local victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, with her son Cole, 20 months, in Yardley, Pa. on Monday, May 2, 2011.