“Justice has been done,” announced President Barack Obama Sunday night. During a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, United States Navy SEAL(s) killed long-sought al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, ending the near 10-year manhunt that began after the attacks of Sept. 11.
The raid took place at about 1 a.m. local time. Four Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters landed 24 soldiers on the compound, with a total of 40 men involved in the assault. The terrorist leader was killed by a bullet to the head. There were no American casualties during the raid.
Though there have been numerous leads about bin Laden’s whereabouts since the worldwide manhunt began almost 10 years ago, he was able to escape several times. Reports say he was wounded by shrapnel during an attack by U.S. and coalition forces at Tora Bora, Afghanistan in 2001. Amid rumors of health problems, bin Laden was said to have fled to Pakistan.
U.S. relations with Pakistan, however, have been shaky at best. While Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari stressed that numerous years of cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. led to the eventual location of bin Laden, he also said that “the killing of Osama bin Laden was not a joint operation with Pakistan.” In fact, Zardari called the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty “unacceptable.” Pakistan had scrambled jets in response to the unknown presence of helicopters in their territory, just two hours from the capital, Islamabad.
John Brennan, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security, said that Pakistan was not informed of the raid to avoid any potential tip offs.
The information about a potential compound in Pakistan had come across Obama’s desk as long ago as August of 2010. “I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan,” Obama said. “Finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.”
With public support of the war in Afghanistan falling off, Obama considered the recent developments a great success. “For over two decades, bin Laden has been al-Qaida’s leader and symbol,” he said. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida.”
To celebrate the death of America’s most hated enemy since Adolf Hitler, thousands poured to places of national importance like Ground Zero, the White House, and Times Square. Across college campuses, students took to the streets to celebrate bin Laden’s death and the success of the U.S. military.
Despite the great success of Sunday afternoon, Obama stressed that Americans must stay alert and stay focused. Threat levels have gone up since the action in Pakistan, in anticipation of possible counter attacks by terrorist elements.
“[Osama’s] death does not mark the end of our effort,” Obama said. “We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.”