It took years to find him but just minutes to kill himThe trail that led the CIA to Osama bin Laden began with his most trusted courier. It had taken the CIA years to discover first his name and then the home where he was hiding the al-Qaida leader. But it took only 40 minutes for US special forces to kill both the courier and Bin Laden. After 9/11 the CIA chased various leads about Bin Laden's inner circle, in particular his couriers. One of these couriers came in for special attention. He was said to be a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, and one of the few couriers Bin Laden trusted.
Bin Laden courier led CIA on four-year chaseTwo years ago, the CIA found the rough location where the courier and his brother lived in Pakistan, and on August last year they narrowed it down to a compound in Abbottabad, an affluent area about 35 miles north of Islamabad. They realised immediately this was no normal residence. The walls of the 3,000 sq ft compound were 12-18ft high. There were two security gates, and access to the compound was severely restricted. Built around five years ago, it was valued at about $1m but had no phone or internet connection.
Found in a mansion, not a caveSuspicions were aroused by the fact that the residents of the compound burned their rubbish rather than putting it out for collection. Salman Riaz, a film actor, said that five months ago he tried to film next to the house, but was told to stop by two men. "They told me that this is forbidden in Islam," he said. By Sept, the CIA had determined there was a 'strong possibility' that the hideout was Laden's, and by Feb, they were confident. On 29 April, while the world's attention was on the royal wedding in London, Obama gave the order to mount an operation.
What really happened in Abbottabad?At around 1.15am local time on Monday, Abbottabad residents became aware that something was happening. "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1am (is a rare event)," tweeted one local, Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual); following that some minutes later by: "A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S" "I heard a thundering sound, followed by heavy firing. Then firing suddenly stopped," said a local resident, Mohammad Haroon Rasheed. "Then more thundering, then a big blast," he said.
Osama bin Laden operationSenior officials say that Bin Laden 'resisted' during a gun battle. He died from a bullet to the head. He was identified by facial recognition. The al-Qaida courier, his brother and one of Bin Laden's sons were also killed. Informed immediately, Obama spoke to former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff to Bush's defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, gave the first public indication of the news, tweeting: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn."