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On May 2, 2011, the founder and leader of the Islamist militant outfit Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin-Laden was killed in a fight with US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. US President Barack Obama described the incident ‘momentous'. Osama Bin-Laden was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks in USA and many other terrorist attacks of the world. Osama featured high on the list of Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted Fugitives and was the Most Wanted Terrorist in many countries. The FBI had also placed a bounty of US $25 million on him. DNA evidence confirmed that the militant killed in the operation was indeed Osama Bin-Laden.


Osama Bin-Laden is believed to have set up the global Islamist terrorist outfit, Al-Qaeda in 1988-89. A radical Sunni organization, Al-Qaeda operates in many countries as a Jihadist army and earned the reputation of being a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council, NATO, and the European Union (EU) and many countries of the world. Al-Qaeda was responsible for a number of terror attacks including the attacks in Yemen in 1992, 9/11 USA attacks, and the US Embassy Bombings in 1998.

The Operations at Abbottabad

Osama Bin-Laden had planned and approved of the attack on September 9, 2001, an operation that cost over 3,000 people their lives and put US national security at stake. After having initially denied responsibility, Bin-Laden acknowledged the part he and his organization played in the calamity in 2001. USA and many other countries embarked on a War Against Terror and Bin-Laden was the major target of many anti-terrorism forces.

In 2006 US intelligence agencies got their first cue about the identity of an Al-Qaeda courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who reportedly shared close ties with Bin-Laden. The CIA swung into action and after many months of intelligence activity and surveillance Al-Kuwaiti's whereabouts were traced to Abbottabad in Pakistan, about thirty minutes from the capital Islamabad.

The residential compound in Abbottabad itself raised suspicions due to the security measures in place. The place was about eight times the size of normal houses in the locality. Guarded by walls about twelve to eighteen feet high, by barbed wire and by two security gates, the residence seemed to house more than a mere spy. The trash from the residential compound was systematically burned and no telephone connection was registered to the address. It was then suspected that the house was used to hide Bin-Laden, his family, and many of his aides.

The CIA was assisted in gathering intelligence about the compound by National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and US Defense Department. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency assisted in surveillance.

President Obama approved of the operation that led to the death of Bin-Laden after poring over the issue in about six National Security Council meetings. Senior US officials were reported stating that the operation was a 'kill or capture' mission. The mission was meticulously planned and executed. The operation was codenamed Operation Neptune Spear.

Operations at Abbottabad were carried out by a team of US Navy SEALs of the Joint Special Operations Command and remotely monitored by the CIA team. Seventy-nine commandoes and a dog were involved in the raid which lasted about forty minutes.  No local authorities interrupted the raid. Out of the twenty-two residents of the compound at Abbottabad, five including Bin-Laden and his son Khalid were killed. The other militants were moved out of the compound and left for Pakistani authorities to identify them. One of the helicopters was damaged while landing was destroyed for security reasons. The SEALs left in the other helicopter with only the body of Osama Bin-Laden.

Identification and Burial

Osama Bin-Laden was identified by one of his wives at Abbottabad and by identification of his features. DNA evidence corroborated and confirmed the identity with 99.9% assurance. Upon identification Bin-Laden's body was buried in the sea within twenty-four of his death. According to USA no other country would accept Bin-Laden's remains. Islamic rites were carried out before the body was buried in the sea.

International Reaction

Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America, asserted that justice had been delivered. In his announcement the President said, The death of Bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat Al Qaeda." The news was perceived with joy across America. Crowds gathered in many parts of Washington, New York, and other major cities of the country. The Star-Spangled Banner and We are the Champions were sung in many public places.

The heads of many states condoned the death of the Al - Qaeda leader. The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai said that Bin Laden had "paid for his actions". Pakistan denied any involvement in the operations but the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani noted a "great victory" in the effort. The EU and UN welcomed the news. A few condemned the killing. Fidel Castro of Cuba criticized the killing and Amnesty International questioned the ethics of the operation since Bin-Laden was killed despite being unarmed. Al-Qaeda has vowed revenge and now poses a threat to the security of USA and Pakistan.

Questions Raised

A number of questions have been raised about the operations conducted in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Bin-Laden's evasion and hideout at Abbottabad, a short distance from the country's capital, has raised serious concern has been raised about how his presence escaped the knowledge of Pakistan's intelligence. Pakistan denied having sheltered the militants or having collaborated in the mission. Pakistan's Prime Minister also protested the manner in which the operation was carried out in violation of the country's sovereignty. The US justified the operations as part of a global mission against international terrorism. This also raises the issue of a lack of resistance on the part of Pakistan with a violation of the country's air space.

The hurried disposal of Bin-Laden's body has also raised questions about his identity. Many groups believed that the disposal of the body at sea was an affront to Sunni religious sentiments.

Last Updated on: September 30th, 2021
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