Obama watched assault on compound housing Bin Laden in real time
Compound was yards from Pakistan's 'Sandhurst' military academy
DNA tests 99.9 per cent certain man killed WAS Bin Laden
U.S. embassies on alert over Al Qaeda reprisal attacks
Obama and George W. Bush both declare: 'Justice has been done'
President Obama was watching on a TV screen as a commando gunned down Osama bin Laden. Via a video camera fixed to the helmet of a U.S. Navy Seal, the leader of the free world saw the terror chief shot in the left eye.
The Seal then carried out what is known in the military as a ‘double tap’ – shooting him again, probably in the chest, to make certain he was dead.
The footage of the battle in Bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout – which played out like an episode of 24 – is said to show one of his wives acting as a human shield to protect him as he blasted away with an AK47 assault rifle.
She died, along with three other men, including one of Bin Laden’s sons. Within hours, the Al Qaeda leader’s body was buried at sea.
Intense: President Obama watches the mission unfold at the White House along with (left) Vice President Joe Biden, (right) Defence Secretary Robert Gates, and (second right) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, alongside other Security staff, including (back left) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, (back without a tie) National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, and (back right, white shirt) Counter-Terrorism chief John Brennan
Taking command: President Obama talks with members of the national security team in the White House situation room following the conclusion of the mission.
Dead: Osama Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. special forces operation on his Pakistani compound.
Despite President Obama claiming the master terrorist’s death made the world a ‘safer, better place’, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency declared that terrorists would ‘almost certainly’ respond.
The warning came on a day when:
■ Relations between Pakistan and the West were under intense strain amid disbelief that intelligence chiefs in Islamabad had no idea Bin Laden was living in a compound only 800 yards from the country’s leading military academy.
■ U.S. officials sought to justify the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay by claiming it provided the crucial breakthrough in hunting down Bin Laden.
■ It emerged that a terror operative captured in Pakistan in 2004 said Al Qaeda would detonate a nuclear bomb in the U.S. if Bin Laden were killed or captured.
David Cameron said Bin Laden’s death would be ‘welcomed right across our country’.
But security was stepped up as he warned: ‘It does not mark the end of the threat we face from extremist terrorism. Indeed, we will have to be particularly vigilant in the weeks ahead.’
Last night the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency planning committee Cobra to assess the implications for the UK. Security sources have been told of specific threats against targets in North Africa and Europe.
Officials in Britain fear a ‘lone wolf’ – currently off the security services’ radar – could be inspired to take revenge.
There is no specific intelligence pointing to any attack in response to Bin Laden’s death, but it is ‘common sense’ to be on guard, Whitehall officials say.
Possible targets include popular tourist and business locations including the Houses of Parliament, Canary Wharf and the London Eye, say security experts.
President Obama announced Bin Laden’s death in a televised statement shortly after 4am British time yesterday
He recalled the images from the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 which were ‘seared into our national memory’.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed – including 67 Britons – when four jets hijacked by Al Qaeda extremists crashed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The attack left ‘a gaping hole in our hearts’, said the President.
Last night pictures were released of Mr Obama and his security team – including Hillary Clinton – watching the mission to kill Bin Laden in the White House’s Situation Room – relayed to the White House by satellite – which played out like an episode of TV show 24 featuring fictional counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer.
Describing the scene, President Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said: ‘It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods in the lives of the people who were assembled.
‘The minutes passed like days and the President was very concerned about the security of our personnel.’
Pit of evil: A king size bed where Bin Laden may have once slept at the secretive compound in Abbottabad. Blood from a gun battle can be seen at the foot of the mattress
Gun fight: A pool of blood on the floor suggests that one Al Qaeda member was shot close to their bed, while right, a selection of medication which was left in the bathroom
Carnage: Blood can be seen on the floor from where Bin Laden was reportedly surrounded by three men, including his son, and a woman who formed a human shield against U.S. troops
The President’s announcement sparked jubilant celebrations, with crowds gathering outside the White House and at Ground Zero where the Twin Towers had stood in New York.
Former President George W Bush, who was in the White House when the attacks took place, described the news as a ‘momentous achievement’.
‘America has sent an unmistakable message: no matter how long it takes, justice will be done,’ he said.
But the euphoria was tempered by warnings that Bin Laden’s supporters would carry out a wave of reprisal attacks against Western targets, including the UK.
Bin Laden's lair: The compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was half a mile from a military academy. If it had been hit in an air strike there would likely have been civilian casualties
Defiant messages: President Obama said the world is a 'safer place', Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed to 'take the fight' to Al Qaeda and Counter Terrorism Chief John Brennan said it was a 'defining moment'
CIA director Leon Panetta said: ‘Though Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is not. The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must – and will – remain vigilant and resolute.’
Foreign Secretary William Hague said: ‘This is a very serious blow to Al Qaeda but, like any organisation that has suffered a serious blow, they will want to show in some way that they are still able to operate.
‘We will still have to be even more vigilant in the coming days about the international terrorist threat.’
Deserted: Nestled among trees and in the shadow of Pakistan's mountains, Bin Laden's hideaway stands empty after a helicopter raid by U.S. troops that killed the terror chief.
He lived there with his youngest wife and his trusted aides
Near miss: One of the U.S. helicopters crashed over a wall within the compound after coming under heavy fire from rocket propelled grenades.
However, all special forces troops escaped safely, left. Right the remains of the helicopter are driven away on a tractor
Guarded: Pakistani soldiers today patrol the compound where Bin Laden lived and was killed, and right, police stop people as they secure the scene
Stronghold: The lay-out of Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. It was surrounded by walls up to 18 feet high
Some 50 people living in Britain are believed to have attended terror training camps in Afghanistan. One suggestion is that Al Qaeda supporters who are not known to the security services could be emboldened to strike.
Another possibility is that terror cells already plotting attacks in the UK could bring forward their plans.
It also emerged last night that the timing of the U.S. mission may have been triggered by Wikileaks.
Although the CIA has thought since September that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad, the attack on his fortress came only days after the website published fresh secret documents.
These made reference to named ‘couriers’ carrying Bin Laden’s message to his followers, and also to Abbottabad as a possible Al Qaeda bolthole.
America has already revealed that it was led to Bin Laden by tracking a man identified as his key courier. When that courier was found in Abbottabad, the CIA began surveillance that led to the raid.
Last night it was said the operation had to be launched before Bin Laden knew the game was up. The theory is based on a leaked U.S. Defence Department assessment of Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abu Faraj al-Libi, 40.
This information identifies al-Libi as a chief of Al Qaeda who fled to Pakistan in 2001. He lived in Abbottabad for a year before being caught in 2005. He was then handed to the U.S., who continue to detain him.
Hideout: The Bin Laden compound was found only a few hundred yards from the military academy known as Pakistan's Sandhurst in the garrison town of Abbottabad, Pakistan
Abbottabad: The remote town in northern Pakistan, named after James Abbott, the British major who founded the town in 1853, sits beneath towering hills
We've got him, said the President
This was the dramatic moment that President Obama and Hillary Clinton watched Osama Bin Laden being shot dead.
Photos released by the White House late last night show Mr Obama and his Secretary of State in similar poses, their hands clamped over their mouths.
Together with the President’s national security team they are watching a crew of Navy Seals storm the terror chief’s hideout in Pakistan.
His fist to his mouth, Mr Obama stares intently at the screen showing Bin Laden die, left, while Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, right, holds her hand to her mouth
While the men in the room, arms folded, remain largely expressionless as they stare at the live feed streamed from the helmet camera of a U.S. commando, it is the expression on Mrs Clinton’s face that clearly shows the tension that they all felt.
She was unable to hide the emotion of the moment for which they had waited more than a decade.
Mr Obama, with his eyes intently focused on the scene unfolding and with his fist clenched to his mouth, was said to be ‘stony faced’ through the transmission, even at the point when a voice came over the speakers stating: ‘We’ve ID’d Geronimo’ – a code name for Bin Laden.
After the terrorist was shot, Mr Obama was said to have turned to the room and said: ‘We got him.’
Guests at a White house dinner last night rose to their feet as Barack Obama arrived with First Lady Michelle Obama, while the Speaker of the House John Boehner congratulates the President
Barack Obama is given a standing ovation at a political dinner in the White House last night following the killing of Osama bin Laden
A giant flag is unveiled at Fenway Park as the national anthem is played before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels
Players from the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels watch as a giant American flag is unfurled before last night's game in Boston
With the, mission accomplished, those present were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
With Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton as the tense operation unfolded were Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daly.
CIA Director Leon Panetta wasn’t in the photo but was at the White House at several points during the day.
The President was also seen on the phone talking to the heads of Allied countries, including British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Americans celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in Times Square in New York, after the Al Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan
We're 99.9% sure it's him
American officials said last night they were ‘99.9 per cent confident’ that DNA evidence proved Osama Bin Laden is dead.
Scientists compared forensic samples from the body in the Pakistan hideout with those taken from the brain of the terror mastermind’s late sister.
Photos of the corpse have also been passed to experts in facial recognition, who are comparing them to previous indisputable images of the Al Qaeda leader.
America has carried out such tests before on tissue samples from unrecognisable victims of drone bombing attacks on remote Afghan and Pakistani terror nests, who it was thought might have been Bin Laden.
The apparent speed of the Bin Laden tests raised yet more questions about the U.S. operation last night. Merely transporting samples to laboratories where DNA profiling can be carried out usually takes time, as does the process itself.
However, new technology means that the process can be speeded up and it is entirely possible that the Americans kept a Bin Laden family DNA profile at one of their bases in Afghanistan. Indeed, one report yesterday was that the DNA test had already been conducted on the fresh corpse.
Pentagon officials said that photos of the body and a videotape of the sea burial may be released soon to answer doubts that Bin Laden was actually killed.
In the huge manhunt for the terror leader, the CIA will have eagerly seized anything Bin Laden is believed to have touched, and searched anywhere he is believed to have stayed. Dentists and doctors will have been questioned in the hope they have retained a tooth or other organic matter.
But previous information from the years following 2001 has suggested that America has been anxiously seeking genetic samples from Bin Laden’s numerous siblings and other relatives – an indication that the CIA did not have any such samples from the Al Qaeda chief himself.
Family affair: Osama Bina Laden (second from right) was identified from DNA taken from the brain of an unidentified sister, who died from cancer
And according to a report on America’s ABC news yesterday, a key sample had come courtesy of the death of one of his sisters in a Boston hospital several years ago, from brain cancer.
Immediately after her death, it was claimed, the FBI obtained a court order to seize her body. Her brain was then preserved, and tissue and blood samples from it helped form the DNA database that was used to match that of Bin Laden.
Such samples from siblings alone could not, however, prove 100 per cent that the new corpse is that of Bin Laden himself. Close similarity of the new corpse’s DNA profile with those taken from siblings could only show that a member of the Bin Laden family had been killed.
Further circumstantial evidence – including photos, perhaps his height (up to 6ft 6in), and location in a hideout at the centre of the Al Qaeda terror network – might then be added to provide all the proof the Americans feel necessary.
A U.S. intelligence official said last night that as well as being identified by U.S. troops on the ground, a woman believed to be one of his wives had confirmed Bin Laden was the dead man.