Bin Laden wives found in compound, one used as human shield
Bin Laden wives: During the night attack on Osama bin Laden, one of his wives was reportedly used as a human shield to protect bin Laden from US commandos' fire.
Monitor editor's note - May 4: New facts have emerged on this story. A Monitor update can be read here.Skip to next paragraph
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One of Osama bin Laden's wives stood between him and U.S. Navy SEALs as the world's most-wanted terrorist was gunned down in an airborne assault on the al-Qaida leader's safehouse deep in Pakistan. He was holed up less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the country's military academy and not far from the capital of Islamabad.
Details emerged Monday of the life and dramatic death of bin Laden, the day after President Barack Obama made the stunning near-midnight announcement that the al-Qaida leader had been killed.
Obama, while assured bin Laden probably was in the compound, did not know with certainty that the 10-year hunt for the notorious son of a Saudi Arabian construction magnate was at an end until his body was carried to one of four U.S. Special Operations helicopters that had ferried in the American force deep inside Pakistan. One of the craft was damaged on landing and blown up before the return journey to Afghanistan.
On Monday the president said the terrorist mastermind's death was "a good day for America."
The administration said DNA testing administered on the body before it was buried at sea from the deck of the USS Carl in the North Arabian Sea confirmed the man killed was indeed bin Laden.
Photo analysis by the CIA, confirmation by a woman believed to be one of bin Laden's wives on site, and matching physical features like bin Laden's height all helped confirmed the identification. White House officials were deciding the merits and appropriateness of releasing a photo of bin Laden's body. He was shot above his left eye, blowing away part of his skull.
"The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden," Obama said, although security officials in the U.S. and around the globe warned against retaliatory al-Qaida attacks.
Obama hailed the pride of those who broke joined overnight celebrations as the stunning news spread around the globe. Crowds celebrated throughout the night outside the White House and at ground zero in Lower Manhattan where the Twin Towers once stood. Obama was planning to visit there Thursday and meet with the families of those killed nearly 10 years ago, an administration official said.
Both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said cooperation from the Pakistani government had helped lead U.S. forces to the compound where he died. But a cloud of suspicion hangs over Pakistan, where authorities have routinely denied bin Laden was in the country. U.S. officials, however, said the sprawling bin Laden compound, with its elaborate security and high walls, was built in 2005, apparently to serve as the terrorist leader's safe house.
Unanswered is the obvious question of how bin Laden could have gone unnoticed just down the road from the country's equivalent of the U.S. military academy at West Point, New York, in a town swarming with military and intelligence personnel.