In a rare, late Sunday night address, President Obama told the global community that Americans had captured and killed the world's most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistan. At the president's direction, the United States launched a targeted attack on a compound in the city of Abbottabad, a suburb of Islamabad, where bin Laden had been hiding. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability," the president said Sunday night. "No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body." [See a slide show of six potential terrorist targets.]
In August, Obama said the intelligence community told him of a possible lead to bin Laden. By mid February, it became clear that bin Laden could be living in the Abbottabad compound, which intelligence officials believe was built five years ago to protect a major terror figure. Obama and his security team had several meetings to confirm that bin Laden was in fact living in this compound, protected by 18 foot walls, and if so, how to get him. On April 29, Obama issued the order to take out bin Laden, without informing Pakistan in advance of the attack. [See a slide show of 15 major post-Cold War uprisings.]
"For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda's leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies," said the president. "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda." But the president warned that bin Laden's death does not mean the end of al Qaeda. Australia's prime minister echoed Obama's caution. "Al Qaeda is not finished," said Julia Gillard. "Our war against terrorism must continue." Other world officials weighed in on the news. "Bin Laden received his due punishment," said Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
- See a slide show of six potential terrorist targets.
- See a slide show of 15 major post-Cold War uprisings.
- Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Middle East unrest.
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