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.
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It took four long years to learn he was a Kuwaiti-born man named Sheikh Abu Ahmed, then years more before investigators got a big break in the case, these officials said. Sometime in mid-2010, Ahmed was overheard using a phone by intelligence officials, who then were able to locate his residence — a specially constructed $1 million compound with walls as high as 18 feet (5.5 meters) topped with barbed wire.Skip to next paragraph
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By mid-February, intelligence from multiple sources was clear enough that Obama wanted to pursue action, a senior administration official said. Over the next two and a half months, the president led five meetings of the National Security Council focused solely on whether bin Laden was in that compound and, if so, how to get him, the official said.
Once under way, four helicopters ferried the U.S. forces to the Abbottabad compound, lowered the SEALS behind the walls and began descending toward a landing. No shots were fired, but shortly after the team hit the ground, one of the helicopters came crashing down and rolled onto its side for reasons the government has yet to explain. None of the SEALs was injured, however, and the mission continued uninterrupted. The crippled aircraft was destroyed before the raiding party flew out in the three remaining helicopters.
U.S. officials have not explained how they managed to secretly fly four helicopters across the Pakistan border to near the capital and into a military garrison city that was home to the country's military academy. What's more, it remained unclear how the SEAL team was able to conduct what was described as a 40-minute mission, including a firefight and the explosives destruction of a helicopter, without the Pakistan military or police intervening.
Bin Laden's death came 15 years after he declared war on the United States. Al-Qaida was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.
The greatest terrorist threat to the U.S. is now considered to be the al-Qaida franchise in Yemen, far from al-Qaida's core in Pakistan. The Yemen branch almost took down a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas 2009 and nearly detonated explosives aboard two U.S. cargo planes last fall. Those operations were carried out without any direct involvement from bin Laden.
Retaliatory attacks against the U.S. and Western targets could come from members of al-Qaida's core branch in the tribal areas of Pakistan, al-Qaida franchises in other countries or radicalized individuals in the U.S. with al-Qaida sympathies, according to a Homeland Security Department intelligence alert issued Sunday and obtained by The Associated Press.
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."
As quickly as bin Laden's supporters vowed to avenge his death, administration officials worked to undermine his reputation.
"Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these (terror) attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years," Brennan said.