Osama bin Laden is dead, Obama announces
In an address to the nation, President Obama said Bin Laden was killed in a "targeted operation" in Abbottabad, a highland town north of Islamabad, last night.
The operation started with an intelligence lead last August, and culminated in an operation involving a "small team of Americans". "After a firefight they killed bin Laden."
None of the Americans was killed. Pakistani co-operation "helped to lead us to him" he said.
Osama's body is in possession of the US, according to the first reports from the US television networks.
As the news spread, crowds gathered outside the gates of the White House in Washington DC, singing the national anthem and cheering.
President Obama made the highly unusual Sunday night live statement to announce the news at around 11.30pm eastern time.
Bin Laden's capture comes eight years to the day that President George Bush declared "mission accomplished" in Iraq. As president, Bush declared he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive" – but it is now the unlikely figure of Barack Obama who has been able to announce the final triumph as US commander-in-chief.
This is a turning point in the global "war on terrorism" that has been waged since 9/11 - and the news will reverberate around the world.
The news comes as an unparalleled boost for US foreign policy, the key aim of which since 2001 has been the disarming and dismemberment of al-Qaida, and coincidentally probably ensures the re-election of Obama in 2012.
As a candidate during the 2008 election campaign, Obama repeatedly vowed: "We will kill Osama bin Laden." And so it has proved.
The Obama statement was scheduled originally for 10.30pm, but the need to inform US congressional leaders caused the delay.
In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, one western diplomat described the news as a "game changer" – not just for al-Qaida, but also for US foreign policy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a region embroiled in turmoil and violence since 2001.
"I'm overjoyed," said the diplomat. "But what this exactly means is really not clear."
Some analysts fear bin Laden's death could spark a precipitous US withdrawal from the region, with the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan still unresolved.
It will likely also reconfigure relations with Pakistan, where the CIA is engaged in a controversial assassination campaign against senior al-Qaida figures using Predator and Reaper drones.
"He's dead," said an official with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, declining to give details other than to say that it was "highly sensitive intelligence operation".
The official said he was "not at liberty" to give further details on the killing, including on reports that Pakistani intelligence was involved in the operation. "We'll release more information later this morning," he said.
Abbottabad is about two hours' drive north of Islamabad, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It is not part of the tribal belt, where the CIA drone strike campaign has been concentrated, but is home to the Pakistan military's main training institution, the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul.
The fact that bin Laden was killed outside the tribal belt in Pakistan will raise questions about how the six-foot four-inch fugitive, one of the most famous faces in the world, managed to escape justice for so long.
Pakistan's intelligence services have largely co-operated with the US in capturing al-Qaida fugitives - some of the most notorious figures seized since 2001 were caught in Pakistan's cities such as the architect of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.
In recent months US military and intelligence officials have publicly complained that the ISI has been assisting the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida-linked militant network that straddles the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead - Barack Obama
Mr Obama said after "a firefight", US forces took possession of the body.
Bin Laden is believed to be the mastermind of the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 and a number of others.
He was top of the US' "most wanted" list.
Mr Obama said it was "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al-Qaeda".
The US has put its embassies around the world on alert, warning Americans of the possibility of al-Qaeda reprisal attacks for Bin Laden's killing.
Crowds gathered outside the White House in Washington DC, chanting "USA, USA" after the news emerged.
A US official quoted by Associated Press news agency said Bin Laden's body had been buried at sea, although this has not been confirmed.
Compound raided Bin Laden had approved the 9/11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died.
"It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground," Mr Obama said.
"I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located Bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.
"And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorised an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice," the president said.
On Sunday, US forces said to be from the elite Navy Seal Team Six undertook the operation in Abbottabad, 100km (62 miles) north-east of Islamabad.
After a "firefight" Bin Laden was killed and his body taken by US forces, the president said.
Mr Obama said "no Americans were harmed".
George W Bush Former US presidentAmerica has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done”
Three other men were killed in the raid - one of Bin Laden's sons and two couriers - the official said, adding that one woman was also killed when she was used as "a shield" and two other women were injured.
One helicopter was lost due to "technical failure". The team destroyed it and left in its other aircraft.
One resident, Nasir Khan, told Reuters the helicopters had come under "intense firing" from the ground.
The size and complexity of the structure in Abbottabad had "shocked" US officials.
It had 4m-6m (12ft-18ft) walls, was eight times larger than other homes in the area and was valued at "several million dollars", though it had no telephone or internet connection.
The US official said that intelligence had been tracking a "trusted courier" of Bin Laden for many years. The courier's identity was discovered four years ago, his area of operation two years ago and then, last August, his residence in Abbottabad was found, triggering the start of the mission.
"Only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance," the official said.
The Abbottabad residence is just 200 metres from the Pakistan Military Academy - the country's equivalent of West Point.
The senior US official warned that the possibility of revenge attacks had now created "a heightened threat to the homeland and to US citizens and facilities abroad".
But the official added that "the loss of Bin Laden puts the group on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse".
He said Bin Laden's probable successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was "far less charismatic and not as well respected within the organisation", according to reports from captured al-Qaeda operatives.
'Momentous achievement' Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Bin Laden had "paid for his actions".
A Pakistani government statement said Bin Laden's death "illustrates the resolve of the international community, including Pakistan, to fight and eliminate terrorism".
Former US President George W Bush described the news as a "momentous achievement".
"The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done," Mr Bush said in a statement.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says that, to many in the West, Bin Laden became the embodiment of global terrorism, but to others he was a hero, a devout Muslim who fought two world superpowers in the name of jihad.
The son of a wealthy Saudi construction family, Bin Laden grew up in a privileged world. But soon after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan he joined the mujahideen there and fought alongside them with his Arab followers, a group that later formed the nucleus for al-Qaeda.
After declaring war on America in 1998, Bin Laden is widely believed to have been behind the bombings of US embassies in East Africa, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 and the attacks on New York and Washington.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan early Monday in a firefight with U.S. forces, ending a manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade.
"Justice has been done," President Barack Obama declared as crowds formed outside the White House to celebrate. Many sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "We Are the Champions," NBC News reported.
Hundreds more celebrated and waved American flags at ground zero in New York — where the twin towers that once stood as symbols of American economic power were brought down by bin Laden's hijackers 10 years ago.
Video: Crowds celebrate bin Laden death at ground zero (on this page)
Bin Laden, 54, was killed after a gunbattle with Navy SEALs and CIA paramilitary forces at a compound in the city of Abbottabad. He was shot in the head, NBC News reported.
DNA tests The special operations forces were on the ground for less than 40 minutes and the operation was watched 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 on condition of anonymity.
The team returned to Afghanistan with bin Laden's body, U.S. officials said.
NBC News reported that bin Laden was later buried at sea.
Video: Bin Laden buried at sea (on this page)
The U.S. was conducting DNA testing and used facial recognition techniques to help formally identify him, Reuters reported. Results of the DNA tests were expected to be available in the next few days.
Other U.S. officials said one of bin Laden's sons and two of his most trusted couriers also were killed, as was an unidentified woman who was used as a human shield.
Al Arabiya TV reported that two of bin Laden's wives and four of his children were also captured during the operation.
PhotoBlog: Bin Laden 'death photo' a fake? "When word came in that the operation was a success, CIA officials in the conference room had a rather large applause," a U.S. official said.
Bin Laden was holed up in a two-story house 100 yards from a Pakistani military academy when four helicopters carrying U.S. forces swooped in , leaving his final hiding place in flames, Pakistani officials and a witness said.
Video: US official: Bin Laden 'was hiding in plain sight' (on this page) They said bin Laden's guards opened fire from the roof of the compound and one of the choppers crashed. It was later destroyed by the U.S. team. U.S. officials said no Americans were hurt in the operation. The sound of at least two explosions rocked Abbottabad as the fighting raged.
Abbottabad is home to three Pakistan army regiments and thousands of military personnel and is dotted with military buildings. BBC News described the army site as the country's equivalent to West Point.
The discovery that bin Laden was living in an army town in Pakistan raises pointed questions about how he managed to evade capture and even whether Pakistan's military and intelligence leadership knew of his whereabouts and sheltered him.
The news of bin Laden's death immediately raised concerns that reprisal attacks from al-Qaida and other Islamist extremist groups could follow soon.
Video: State Department issues travel advisory (on this page)
"In the wake of this operation, there may be a heightened threat to the U.S. homeland," a U.S. official said. "The U.S. is taking every possible precaution. The State Department has sent advisories to embassies worldwide and has issued a travel ban for Pakistan."
'Momentous achievement' Charles Wolf of New York, whose wife, Katherine, died on Sept, 11, 2001, rejoiced at the news, which he called "wonderful."
"I am really glad that man's evil is off this earth forever," Wolf said. "I am just very glad that they got him."
Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that he had personally been informed by Obama of the death of the terrorist leader whose attacks forever defined his eight years in office.
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"The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Osama bin Laden dead
Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, mastermind of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the world’s most wanted man for almost a decade is dead, President Barack Obama is poised to announce.
In the days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush said that bin Laden was wanted “dead or alive” while Vice President Dick Cheney said he would willingly accept the al-Qaeda leader’s head “on a platter”.
But after bin Laden escaped from US forces in the Tora Bora cave complex in April 2002 he eluded the CIA and American forces despite the intense focus on killing or capturing the man responsible for killing 3,000 Americans and others in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in the worst terrorist attack in US history.
Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December  and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan. Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, echoed the information. The remnants of Osama's gang, however, have mostly stayed silent, either to keep Osama's ghost alive or because they have no means of communication.
With an ego the size of Mount Everest, Osama bin Laden would not have, could not have, remained silent for so long if he were still alive. He always liked to take credit even for things he had nothing to do with. Would he remain silent for nine months and not trumpet his own survival? [New York Times. July 11, 2002]
Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years. According to Le Figaro, last year  he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. [Guardian]
Peter Bergen: Bin Laden has aged 'enormously'
|This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he's really, by December  he's looking pretty terrible.|
Bin Laden December 27, 2001 video
|But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he's barely moving the left side of his body. So he's clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He's got a wound in his foot. He's apparently got dialysis ... for kidney problems. [CNN]|
Pakistan's Musharraf: Bin Laden probably dead
Pakistan's president says he thinks Osama bin Laden is most likely dead because the suspected terrorist has been unable to get treatment for his kidney disease.
[A Bush administration official] said U.S. intelligence is that bin Laden needs dialysis every three days and "it is fairly obvious that that could be an issue when you are running from place to place, and facing the idea of needing to generate electricity in a mountain hideout." [CNN]
Renal dialysis -- talking about hemodialysis -- is something that really is reserved for patients in end-stage renal failure. That means their kidneys have just completely shut down. The most common cause of something like that would be something like diabetes and hypertension. Once that's happened, if you're separated from your dialysis machine -- and incidentally, dialysis machines require electricity, they're going to require clean water, they're going to require a sterile setting -- infection is a huge risk with that. If you don't have all those things and a functioning dialysis machine, it's unlikely that you'd survive beyond several days or a week at the most. [CNN]
Karzai: bin Laden 'probably' dead
Osama bin Laden is "probably" dead, but former Taliban leader Mullah Omar is alive, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said. [CNN]
FBI: Bin Laden 'probably' dead
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation's counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, says he thinks Osama bin Laden is "probably" dead. [BBC]
Magazine runs what it calls bin Laden's will
The editor-in-chief of a London-based Arab news magazine said a purported will it published Saturday was written late last year  by Osama bin Laden, and shows "he's dying or he's going to die soon." [CNN]
|Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader. "The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead," the source said. [FOX News]|
Israel does not view bin Laden as a threat. [Janes]
Israeli intelligence: Bin Laden is dead, heir has been chosen
Israeli sources said Israel and the United States assess that Bin Laden probably died in the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in December. They said the emergence of new messages by Bin Laden are probably fabrications, Middle East Newsline reported. [World Tribune]
[See also The Fake bin Laden Audio Tape]
[See also Benazir Bhutto says Osama is dead.]
|When you hear a threat which is "probably" made by bin Laden, just remember that he's "probably" dead. Also think about who benefits from your believing he's alive.|
"Osama bin Laden"
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