Osama bin Laden was buried at sea Monday after U.S. forces raided his well-appointed hideout in Pakistan, shot him in a firefight and spirited his body out of the country aboard a helicopter, U.S. officials said.The death of the long-hunted al-Qaeda leader, who had eluded intensive U.S. efforts to capture or kill him after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks he ordered, triggered warnings Monday that his radical Islamist network or sympathizers could try to retaliate against Americans or U.S. interests.
It also served, U.S. officials said, to send a message to the extremist Taliban movement fighting to make a comeback in Afghanistan, where it had harbored bin Laden and al-Qaeda before being driven from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in November 2001. The message: Give up hope of defeating U.S. and NATO forces, renounce al-Qaeda and join the political process.
Bin Laden was killed early Monday in Pakistan (Sunday afternoon in Washington) in what officials described as a surgical raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a garrison town 72 miles by road north of the capital, Islamabad.
In a rare Sunday night address from the East Room of the White House, President Obama said a small team of U.S. personnel attacked the compound, where bin Laden had been hiding since at least last summer. During a firefight, the U.S. team killed bin Laden, 54, and took custody of his body in what Obama called “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda.”At the White House early Monday afternoon, Obama said: “I think we can all agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”
Speaking at a ceremony to award Medals of Honor posthumously to two Korean War veterans, Obama added: “Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans.”
The discovery that bin Laden had been hiding in a well-populated part of Pakistan, rather than a remote location, raised new questions about the extent to which Pakistan is cooperating with the United States in combating terrorism.U.S. forces flew to bin Laden’s hideout in helicopters about 1 a.m. Monday (4 p.m. Sunday in Washington) from neighboring Afghanistan. Bin Laden was killed “in a firefight” after he and his guards resisted the U.S. attackers, a senior Obama administration official said. U.S. personnel identified him by facial recognition. Bin Laden was shot in the head, the Associated Press reported.