Osama bin Laden dead: Blog

Nearly 10 years after the traumatic Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, the world's most wanted terrorist leader Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan. President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in a firefight during an operation he ordered Sunday inside Pakistan, ending a 10-year manhunt for the world’s most wanted terrorist. Here's the full text and following is the video of Obama's speech

Bin Laden confirmed dead

9.45 pm: Initial DNA results show a "very confident match" to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a U.S. official said on Monday. The test showed "high confirmation" that it was bin Laden killed in the raid in Pakistan, the official said.

9.30 pm: Pakistan faced enormous embarrassment after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces, raising questions over whether its military and intelligence were too incompetent to catch him themselves or knew all along where he was hiding. Read more

9.15 pm:
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said on Monday that news of Osama bin Laden's death was a "positive step" even as he criticised the United States for launching the raid within his country's borders.

9.00 pm:
Refusing to talk to striking Air India pilots, the government said it will wait till the stir is called off and abide by the court's order on the Contempt of Court proceedings initiated by the airline management.
"I have already stated that there will be no talks with the pilots till they are on strike," Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi told reporters. Here is the full story

8.45 pm: The Delhi High Court deferred the bail plea of five corporate honchos, including the promoter of Etisalat DB, Sanjay Chandra, in connection with the 2G spectrum fraud case, till Wednesday.

8.30 pm:
Osama bin Laden taunted and defied the United States in a series of audio and occasional video messages for nearly a decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Here's the highlight

8.20 pm:
Timeline - Some of the major attacks carried out or inspired by al Qaeda and its associates.

8.10 pm:
The killing of Osama bin Laden in a firefight with U.S. forces in a Pakistani town on Sunday caps a series of al Qaeda leaders captured or killed in Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks. Here's the list

8.00 pm:
Governments across the world have hailed the US action against Osama bin Laden, and put their forces on alert to thwart possible retaliatory attacks, the Wall Street Journal reports. Read more

7.45 pm:
Members of an elite Navy Seals team dropped by helicopter to the compound were under orders to kill not capture bin Laden, a senior US security official told Reuters. Here is the full story

7.30 pm:
US and NATO officials sought to reassure Afghans that Osama bin Laden's death will not weaken the international mission in Afghanistan, even as the Afghan president said the successful strike in Pakistan shows that the fight against terrorism should focus more outside his country's borders.


7.15 pm:
Osama’s violent jihad no longer holds any appeal in the Middle-East, and his death will be received with relief, reports the Wall Street Journal. Its writer Margaret Coker says, “Ten years ago, the philosophy that only violence would bring about change appeared valid for many in a region filled with geriatric and entrenched authoritarian rulers who for decades had dismissed the need for change and had ruthlessly cracked down on any time of local dissent. But public opinion swung away from al Qaeda in recent years, due to the growing disgust for its suicide bombings and civilian targets. At the same time, radical political and social changes that have led to the ousters of entrenched leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and outright rebellion in Libya have further discredited the group.” Read the full article here

6:50 pm:
The killing of Osama bin Laden will deal a big psychological blow to al Qaeda but may have little practical impact on an increasingly decentralized group that has operated tactically without him for years. Al Qaeda has also been hurt ideologically by uprisings in the Arab world by ordinary people seeking democracy and human rights -- notions anathema to bin Laden, who once said democracy was akin to idolatry as it placed man's desires above God's. Reuters has the story

6:40 pm:
Within about two hours of reports first surfacing (and since confirmed by the President) that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, a Facebook Page titled "Osama Bin Laden is DEAD" has already accumulated more than 300,000 "likes."

The page appears to be adding thousands of likes by the minute with users also sharing hundreds of comments and links to stories about the news. Read on

6:29 pm:
'Thank god my father doesn't run the world," says Omar bin Laden, Osama's fourth son, in 2010. He was not, as may be imagined, referring to the violence Osama unleashed around the world through al Qaeda -- but to the fact that his puritanical father may not quite have liked the vision Omar was taking in at the time: that of a statuesque dancer in a Damascus nightclub, dressed in a red rhinestone bra and panties, with a black shimmy belt and an  ostrich-feather crown, who gyrated her hips as Osama's son watched in fascination. Here is the Rolling Stone story

6:24 pm:
After spending many years hunting down the world's most wanted man, why did the US bury Osama bin Laden at sea within 24 hours of killing him?

The reason is bound up within Islamic practice and tradition. And that practice calls for the body of the deceased to be buried within 24 hours, according to a US official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.

"We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition," confirmed the official. "This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore this is being handled in an appropriate manner."

Here is the Time report quoted above.

And, for those who like to delve deeper into these matters, here are the Islamic rules governing burial, on land and at sea. Note this bit:

623. If a person dies on a ship and if there is no fear of the decay of the dead body and if there is no problem in retaining it for sometime on the ship, it should be kept on it and buried in the ground after reaching the land. Otherwise, after giving Ghusl, Hunut, Kafan and Namaz-e-Mayyit it should be lowered into the sea in a vessel of clay or with a weight tied to its feet. And as far as possible it should not be lowered at a point where it is eaten up immediately by the sea predators.

624. If it is feared that an enemy may dig up the grave and exhume the dead body and amputate its ears or nose or other limbs, it should be lowered into sea, if possible, as stated in the foregoing rule.

625. The expenses of lowering the dead body into the sea, or making the grave solid on the ground can be deducted from the estate of the deceased, if necessary.

6:18 pm:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is finally heard from, on the news of the day.

"I welcome it as a significant step forward and hope that it will deal a decisive blow to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The international community and Pakistan in particular must work comprehensively to end the activities of all such groups who threaten civilized behaviour and kill innocent men, women and children," Singh says in his official reaction

6:14 pm:
The American helicopters that raided Osama's mansion flew low from Afghanistan to escape Pakistani radars. About 40 men stormed in once the aircraft had reached Abbotabad. They asked him to surrender, and shot him dead when he refused to co-operate, a BBC World correspondent said, quoting official information released in Washington.

6:10 pm:
"In June 2009, Obama directed his CIA director to "provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to justice" Osama Bin Laden." -- so says a piece in Slate, whose leitmotif is that with the killing of Osama, President Obama has answered Conservative critics who have accused him of masterly inactivity.

6:05 pm: How does al Qaeda operate? Knowing the answer to that question is important in any analysis of what next after Osama. In that vein, here is a clip from a Foreign Affairs story:

"In times of sustained pressure, al Qaeda has delegated significant responsibility for external operations against the United States to its branch, AQAP. The first such action came in late 2002, when al Qaeda had exhausted its existing supply of operatives for external operations and was in the process of rebuilding its capacity from its sanctuary in Pakistan. Al Qaeda asked AQAP to carry out an attack on U.S. interests; AQAP devised a plot against U.S. subways and got permission to use a chemical device. (In 2003, just before putting the plan into action, AQAP asked al Qaeda for final signoff but was denied.) When the pressure on al Qaeda eased between 2003 and 2006, because the United States was focusing less on Afghanistan, the group was able to regenerate its capacity and intensify its planning for global operations. But the U.S. drone campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas has again put pressure on it, and the group has again tapped AQAP to undertake external operations. It has also made similar requests of its franchises, particularly AQI. In 2008, for example, it asked AQI to carry out attacks against Danish interests in retaliation for a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

When subsidiaries do carry out attacks outside their territories, al Qaeda requires that they be conducted within set parameters. For example, al Qaeda heavily encourages suicide attacks and repeated strikes on preapproved classes of targets, such as public transportation, government buildings, and vital infrastructure. Once a location has been authorized, the branch and the franchises are free to pursue plots against it. But al Qaeda still emphasizes the need to consult the central leadership before undertaking large-scale plots, plots directed against a new location or a new class of targets, and plots utilizing a tactic that has not been previously sanctioned, such as the use of chemical, biological, or radiological devices.

Al Qaeda has put these requirements in place to ensure that attacks complement, not undermine, its strategic objectives. Whereas AQAP appears to honor al Qaeda's authority, at times the franchises have acted on their own; AQI's unapproved bombings of three hotels in Amman, Jordan, in 2005, for example, earned it a strong rebuke from headquarters. And a range of factors influence whether a franchise will attack an external target when al Qaeda asks it to. Chief among them is the franchise's capacity and whether the franchise is willing to dedicate resources to external operations instead of local activities. Another factor is the closeness of the ties between the subsidiary and the central organization; the tighter the ties, the more likely the request will be honored. AQI has a closer relationship with al Qaeda than AQIM. Still, AQIM has generally cooperated at least with requests to stay on message and present the image of a united and hierarchical organization. This emphasis on a unified appearance was clear when, in November 2010, AQIM's leader, Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, announced that France would have to negotiate directly with bin Laden for the release of hostages held by AQIM. Although in recent times, the capacity of both franchises has been weakened by intensified couterterrorism efforts against them, neither has shown any signs of abandoning al Qaeda's global agenda in favor of purely local goals."

Read this extensive -- and, in light of today's events, extremely timely -- analysis in Foreign Policy.

6:00 pm:
A screen grab from FBI's Most Wanted website taken May 2, 2011 shows the status of Osama bin Laden as deceased.

5:54 pm:
From two favorite magazines, a compendium of Osama/al Qaeda stories: The New Yorker, and Foreign Policy. Every one of these is a must read, so there goes the rest of your evening.

5:48 pm:
'Run with the hare, hunt with the hounds' gets a whole new definition thanks to Pervez Musharraf -- who in his initial reaction called the killing of Osama bin Laden a victory for the Pakistan people, and said Osama had masterminded the killings of many Pakistanis, and who also says that he would not have permitted the operation that ended in Osama's killing. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

5:40 pm:
This is what commentators on CNN are saying about the possibility of revenge attacks: The Jehadist community has been in disarray following the democratic uprising in Egypt and other Arab countries, and the killing of Osama may not generate much sympathy for his cause. The channel is also showing footage of celebrations in Washington and New York. Thousands of Americans, waving flags, are expressing joy at the killing of the man who masterminded the 9/11 attacks.

5:30 pm:
Osama bin Laden was marked for death the day American spies learnt about a trusted courier of the man the US had hunted for years, the New York Times reported. The courier was painstakingly traced to the compound in Abbottabad near the Pakistani capital where the Al Qaeda leader finally met his death. More on this story

5:20 pm:
Remember the Hydra? The mythical monster Hercules confronted, only to find that when you cut off one head, two grow in its place? That myth could well define life after Osama bin Laden, experts tell CNN. Quote:

"Standing behind bin Laden for more than two decades has been an ideological army that stretches around the world, where militants have set up their own al Qaeda franchises," analysts said. "He was very good at coming up with messages that would unify al Qaeda," said Paul Cruickshank, a CNN analyst for terrorism and an alumni fellow at the New York University's Center on Law and Security. "Now, without bin Laden, they will likely lose some of that unity.

"That loss could make room for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest political opposition party in many Arab states, and Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, to gain traction, Spiegel said."

Incidentally, Hamas has already condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden in an "official" statement.

5:10 pm:
Reuters reports that Pakistan Taliban threaten attacks on Pakistani leaders, army and US after Osama bin Laden's killing.

5:02 pm:
In their breathless rush to capture events as they moved along at breakneck pace, more than one media anchor this morning mixed up Osama and Obama, producing comments on the order of "the killing of Obama in a mansion in Pakistan." From that light, the opening of this David Remnick piece in the New Yorker is especially interesting:

"As a fledgling politician in Chicago, Barack Obama  was advised more than once by consultants that he might want to consider changing his name-all three of them, in fact. "Barry" would be a great deal less foreign-sounding than Barack, one media consultant told him, and "Hussein" was a middle name reminiscent, for many, of an Iraqi tyrant and worth consigning to oblivion. As for his last name, well, to carry around a perfect rhyme for the most notorious terrorist in the world was a political liability beyond imagining. In the post 9/11 world, "Obama" was a cheap tabloid pun waiting to happen. Nevertheless, the young South Side politician ignored the advice, won a U.S. Senate seat, in 2004, and took the oath of office as President on January 20, 2009 using the same name that appears on his Hawaiian birth documents (both the long and short versions): Barack Hussein Obama, II."

4:55 pm:
A hero to some?: WSJ reports on Chinese reactions to the killing of Osama bin Laden -- and surprisingly, those reactions include regret and a sense of mourning over the passing of a 'hero'. Are the Chinese seeing something the rest of the world is not? The story

4:45 pm:
Journalism is no longer the prerogative of journalists (and a good thing too, some might say). Case in point, Shoaib Athar, the Abbottabad-based IT consultant who, without realizing exactly what was going on, was the first to tweet of the attack on Osama bin Laden's mansion and who, in the aftermath, now finds himself famous. Consider this: when he went to bed on the night of April 30, he had 751 followers. At the time of writing this, he has 24,838 followers, and counting. His Twitter stream is a dramatic indication of what presence at a venue where major news is breaking, and the presence of mind to post a running narrative on Twitter, can do. Consider these two tweets:

"I'm sorry to all the MSM journalists trying to reach me via phone/email etc. for not being able to reply to their queries individually."

"Reuters got to me before I could go to sleep."

And finally, this post, in exasperated vein:

"Bin Laden is dead. I didn't kill him. Please let me sleep now."

4:40 pm:
In its analysis of the fallout of bin Laden's death, the New York Times suggests that tensions between the United States and Pakistan could now escalate. Significantly, it also questions whether the $1 billion in annual US aid, given to Pakistan for "anti-terrorism activities", will now continue. Relevant quote:

"The presence of Bin Laden in Pakistan, something Pakistani officials have long dismissed, goes to the heart of the lack of trust Washington has felt over the last 10 years with its contentious ally, the Pakistani military and its powerful spy partner, the Inter-Services Intelligence.

With Bin Laden's death, perhaps the central reason for an alliance forged on the ashes of 9/11 has been removed, at a moment when relations between the countries are already at one of their lowest points as their strategic interests diverge over the shape of a post-war Afghanistan.

For nearly a decade, the United States has paid Pakistan more than $1 billion a year for counterterrorism operations whose chief aim was the killing or capture of Bin Laden, who slipped across the border from Afghanistan after the American invasion.

The circumstance of Bin Laden's death may not only jeopardize that aid, but will also no doubt deepen suspicions that Pakistan has played a double game, and perhaps even knowingly harbored the Qaeda leader."

4:29 pm:
An Information Technology consultant in a small town in Pakistan has become the latest Twitter celebrity following an all-night live-tweeting session on the sudden appearance of a helicopter, loud bangs and gunfire which signalled the end of the world's most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden. More on this story

4:20 pm:
The world is now convinced Pakistan helped Osama hide, but those associated with Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's official spy agency, are still in denial. Former ISI chief Hamid Gul said it was wrong to say that the Pakistani establishment had 'harboured' Osama bin Laden.  When a TV channel asked him about the suspicious high-wall mansion in which Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, Gul said high-wall compounds were common in Quetta and Abbottabad. "Pathans usually build huge compound walls," he said. Gul revealed that he had met Laden in 1993 at a conference in Sudan, but had never met him in Pakistan. Read details here

4:10 pm:
Another gem from Musharraf: "I would like to commend ISI for their achievement with American intelligence for finally spotting and getting Osama".

Commend the ISI, did he say? Indeed.

4:03 pm:
The statements that emerge from the political class can sometime befuddle. Witness this salvo, from BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

"We demand that all the terrorists responsible for terror attacks from across the border must be handed over to India. It is a litmus test for Pakistan. Government of India must acknowledge this fact in all future talks with Pakistan. He was killed in Pakistan, almost in the backyard of its capital, Islamabad. This is the final confirmation of the hard fact that Pakistan remains the epicentre of global terror where terrorism and terrorists both are allowed to be encouraged and given shelter."

Unexceptionable, so far. But then comes this little number: "For US, Pakistan is a valuable ally, the fact that it did not share campaign against terror with Pakistani establishment is surprising. US should reflect on it."

Really? The US clearly did not share operational details with anyone -- least of all Pakistan, where it is no secret that the political, military and intelligence communities contain secret sympathizers of the various terrorist groups -- in order to preserve secrecy and surprise. What precisely is the US supposed to "reflect on", again?

Biography of Osama bin Laden

Part 1

Part 2
Part 3
3:50 pm: As early as 1999, US intelligence had begun picking up information about al Qaeda's plans to launch a major terrorist strike -- but during the critical months before 9/11, that information was wasted tangled up in a complex maze of red tape and the inability of various agencies to cooperate. Lesson learnt, the US introduced systemic reforms -- and these, argues Saikat Datta in Outlook, led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. What did the US learn then? How did it implement those lessons? And what can India learn from this experience? Read on...

3:37 pm:
Pakistan declared the killing of Osama bin Laden a "major setback" to global terrorism but it will inevitably come under pressure to explain how the al Qaeda leader was holed up in a mansion near a military facility. More on Yahoo! India News

3:30 pm:
Many Afghanis who fought against the Taliban are nervous that the Americans could now withdraw from their country. Osama bin Laden trained insurgents in Afghanistan, and lived there for many years. The New York Times reports: "While senior political figures welcomed the news of his death, they cautioned that it did not necessarily translate into an immediate military victory over the Taliban, and urged the United States and NATO not to use it as a reason to withdraw."

3:18 pm:
Bollywood celebrities ranging from Shekhar Kapur and Mahesh Bhatt, to Gul Panag, Celina Jaitley and others react to the news of Osama bin Laden. Choice quotes here

3:11 pm:
In the US, the killing of Osama has already inaugurated a wave of self-congratulation and hyper-nationalist sentiment. The killing signals the emergence of a stronger America, according to Time magazine. Its political columnist David Von Drehle writes, "The world will greet the killing of bin Laden with a mixture of delight, fatigue and cynical objection. Even at home, some may ask how much it matters." And then comes his analysis: "It matters because people had begun to doubt whether American power was truly power; and to ask whether its day was past. In that equation, Osama bin Laden was a unsettling factor, even though his own power was diminished. As long as he was free, the U.S. was failing. It was that simple."

3:01 pm:
Early days, but already it is evident that the question of Pakistan's knowledge, or lack thereof, of the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden will become the single biggest talking point. In Times of India, Chidananad Rajghatta looks for clues, and cues, in Obama's speech. The money quote:

"In fact, there was not even a word of thanks for Pakistan. Instead, Obama said: ''Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al-Qaida and its affiliates.''

The finger of suspicion is now pointing squarely at the Pakistani military and intelligence for sheltering and protecting Osama bin Laden before US forces hunted him down and put a bullet in his head in the wee hours of Sunday. The coordinates of the action and sequence of events indicate that the al-Qaida fugitive may have been killed in an ISI safehouse.

US analysts uniformly suggested that the Pakistani security establishment's claim of a role in the operation is clearly aimed at ducking charges of its military's possible role in hiding bin Laden. ''This is hugely embarrassing for Pakistan,'' was a common refrain on US TV channels throughout the night.

In fact, top US officials have openly suggested for months that the Pakistani military establishment was hiding bin Laden. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came closest to publicly exposing Pakistan's role last May when she accused some government officials there of harboring Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.

''I am not saying they are at the highest level...but I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Taliban are,'' Clinton said on May 10 last year, adding, ''We expect more cooperation (from Pakistan) to help us bring to justice capture or kill those who brought us 9/11.''

Taken together with President Obama's pointed reference to President Zardari and leaving out any mention of Pakistani forces' involvement, it would seem that Washington believes that Pakistan's military intelligence establishment, including the ISI, was sheltering bin Laden. The ISI was accused as recently as last week by the top US military official Admiral Mike Mullen of having terrorist links, and named as a terrorist support entity by US officials, according to the Guantanamo cables."

2:53 pm:
BBC reports: The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, have issued this joint statement: "Osama Bin Laden was a criminal responsible for heinous terrorist attacks that cost the lives of thousands of innocent people. His death makes the world a safer place and shows that such crimes do not remain unpunished... The European Union continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States, our international partners and our friends in the Muslim world in combating the scourge of global extremism and in building a world of peace, security and prosperity for all."

2:47 pm:
A reaction from former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra: "If anyone in the world believes Pakistan was unaware of where bin Laden was living, I just laugh at that."

2:40 pm:
The BBC gives a detailed account of what happened this morning. Women and children were inside the compound with Obama when the Americans landed in their helicopters. The Pakistani troops arrived only after the Americans had attacked and killed Osama, the BBC quotes its correspondents as saying. Pakistani soldiers have now completely taken over the area.

2:33 pm:
Rana Banerjee, former RAW special secretary, believes the ISI top brass knew where Obama was hiding. The Americans started developing their own agents when they realised that the Pakistanis wouldn't reveal Osama's location, he told NDTV.

2:23 pm:
With so much detail surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden being open to speculation, here's a link to an extensive briefing provided by the US State Department. One key takeaway: no, the US did not share details of the raid with Pakistani authorities prior to the fact, no matter what anyone is claiming now. Key quote:

"We shared our intelligence on this bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan.  That was for one reason and one reason alone:  We believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel.  In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance.

Shortly after the raid, U.S. officials contacted senior Pakistani leaders to brief them on the intent and the results of the raid.  We have also contacted a number of our close allies and partners throughout the world.

Sine 9/11, the United States has made it clear to Pakistan that we would pursue bin Laden wherever he might be.  Pakistan has long understood that we are at war with al Qaeda.  The United States had a legal and moral obligation to act on the information it had."

2:12 pm:
After bin Laden, what? That is one question there is no immediate answer for, though judging by the advisories being issued by Interpol, and by the US State Department, the sense is of a global bracing for the backlash from jihadists bent on revenge. After bin Laden, who? That question seems relatively easier to answer, with the consensus being that Ayman al-Zawahiri will now become the tentpole figure within the al Qaeda network. Additional to our 1.45 pm update, we bring you more compelling reading: a compelling profile authored by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, back in September 2002, of the Egyptian doctor who became a terrorist mastermind.

1:55 pm:
As browsers clamour for news on Osama from Pakistan, the website of Dawn, that country's foremost English-language newspaper, has crashed. In a small message on its home page, the paper says its site is experiencing "extraordinary traffic". It also requests browsers to "proceed with the security verification". The link provided for "security verification" doesn't help. This is the message we got when we clicked on it: "Error establishing a database connection." We've heard of security verification at airports, but at a newspaper website?

1:49 pm:
Father Federico Lombardi, spokesperson for the Vatican, says Osama bin Laden will now have to answer to God for having killed many people and exploited religion to spread hate. While Christians do not "rejoice at death", he said, the events of today serve to remind everyone of "each person's responsibility before God and men."

1:45 pm:
Egyptian-born doctor and surgeon Ayman al-Zawahri is al Qaeda's second-in-command expected to succeed Osama bin Laden following his killing in a firefight with U.S.forces in Pakistan. Zawahri has been the brains behind bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, and at times its most public face, repeatedly denouncing the United States and its allies in video messages. Reuters has the story
Abbottabad: The place where Osama was killedAbbottabad: The place where Osama was killed
1:35 pm:
G Parthasarathy, former Indian high commissioner in Pakistan, believes Osama's killing in Abbotabad provides conclusive proof that Pakistan knew all along where he was hiding. Americans therefore had enough reason to keep Islamabad in the dark when they went out to eliminate Osama, he told Headlines Today.

Ground Zero Celebration of Bin Laden's Death


1:30 pm:
Osama's killing a victory for the people of Pakistan, said former president Musharraf but feels the Pakistan authorities should have been kept in the loop about the operation.

1:25 pm:
If the context weren't so grim, this would actually be quite funny: Pakistan has, since the news broke of bin Laden's death, been unable seemingly to decide whether to claim credit, or not. And in a sense, you can understand the country's dilemma. Claim credit, and it will bear the initial brunt of the jihadists' revenge; claim that it had nothing to do with the raid, and it will further reinforce international perception that it was hiding bin Laden, and hence had been kept in the dark by the US. Finally, Pakistan authorities appear to have decided to take the safe option: welcome the killing of bin Laden, but distance itself from the actual operation while indirectly claiming a measure of credit. Here is the official statement from Islamabad:

"In an intelligence driven operation, Osama Bin Ladin was killed in the surroundings of Abbotabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world. Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin.
         
Osama bin Ladin's death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism. It constitutes a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world.
         
Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan's campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.
         
Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.
         
It is Pakistan's stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan's political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism."

1:17 pm:
In an earlier update, we had linked to a few of bin Laden's quotes. Here's a far more comprehensive -- and, at times, compelling -- resource

1:11 pm:
US choppers approached a high-walled compound in Pakistan on a mission to capture or kill one of the world's most notorious terrorist leaders. Less than 40 minutes later, Osama bin Laden was dead along with four others inside the complex. Here an account of how the US forces killed Osama bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden Interview (1998)ABC News sat down with the al Qaeda leader three years before 9/11 attacks.


12:57 pm:
In the first official reaction out of Pakistan, the foreign office in Islamabad in a statement has said Bin Laden's death is a 'major setback to terrorist organizations around the world'. Elsewhere, anonymous officials are being quoted as saying Pakistani intelligence agency personnel were present when the pre-dawn raid was carried out on bin Laden's hideout.

12:51 pm:
Within minutes of the news being flashed that Osama was dead, his wikipedia entry had been edited to reflect the news; since then, at least 200 edits have been carried out to the page, with anonymous editors sourcing all available information to update the page. Meanwhile, The Atlantic reports that the location of bin Laden's mansion -- labelled, curiously, an "amusement park" -- is already up on Google maps

12:45 pm:
Further to the burial at sea story: CNN quotes unnamed US officials as saying it was decided to bury Osama bin Laden at sea to prevent any burial site on land becoming a shrine of sorts for would-be jihadists. The burial, the official is quoted as saying, was in full accordance with Islamic rites and traditions. Analysts however are already beginning to point out that the "hasty" burial could fuel conspiracy theories, and lead to claims that Osama is still alive.

12:40 pm:
CNN now reports that the body of Osama bin Laden has been buried at sea. Details awaited.

12:34 pm:
"Jihad will continue even if I am not around," Osama bin Laden told a Pakistani newspaper back in late September 2001. The Telegraph has a collection of the most-quoted sayings of the al Qaeda chief here

12:30 pm:
Sometimes, events of considerable import are preceded by smaller events that are so banal as to be scarcely credible. For instance, guess what President Obama was doing Sunday morning, shortly before the final determination to attack the Abottabbad compound? Playing golf. Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy compiles this interesting timeline of the events that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
People cheer Bin Laden's death as victoryPeople cheer Bin Laden's death as victory
12:20 pm:
In our 10.40 update, we brought you a comprehensive obituary of Osama bin Laden by the New York Times. Here now is the Guardian's detailed version

12:15 pm:
Typically of times like this, people look for precedent, read the tea leaves for "significance". As in this Twitter post doing the rounds: May 1, 1945: Hitler confirmed dead. May 1, 2011: Osama bin Laden confirmed dead.

12:10 pm:
Confirming the growing use of Twitter as the first place where news breaks, comes this story of how the raid on the Abbottabad farmhouse was first reported, live, on Twitter by a Pakistani national.

12:05 pm:
Republican leader Sarah Palin, who was John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential elections against the Democratic team of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, on her Facebook page greeted the news of Osama's death with the following message:

"Americans tonight are united in celebration and gratitude. God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who contributed to carrying out the successful mission to bring bin Laden to justice and who laid the groundwork over the years to make this victory possible.  It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of these brave Americans who relentlessly hunted down our enemy.
 
This is a victory for the American people, for the victims who were heartlessly murdered on September 11 and in Al Qaeda’s other numerous attacks, and for all the peace-loving people of the world.
 
May God bless our troops and our intelligence services, and God bless America!

11:55 am:
Former ISI chief Gen. (Retd) Hameed Gul said it is possible that ISI was aware that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan. There are many failures of ISI as well. ISI is not an organization that knows everything. It is possible that ISI came to know about Osama after the US tip off.

11:53 am:
Here is an early look at the building where Osama bin Laden was holed out in, and where the firefight led to his death
An image made from Express TV video shows the dead body of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, as seen in Islamabad (AP Photo)

11:50 am: More reactions: In India, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the killing of Osama "deep inside Pakistan" underscores India's concern that terrorists belonging to different organizations find shelter in Pakistan.

David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain, said "Osama bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen -- for 9/11 and for so many attacks, which have cost thousands of lives, many of them British. It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror."

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel,
says bin Laden's death is "victory for justice, freedom and the common values of every democratic nation that fights shoulder to shoulder in the struggle against terrorism."

11:45 am:
More from former ISI chief Hamid Gul, who sees CIA orchestration behind the events of early this morning, and says it is possible that Osama had come to the region very recently for treatment.

11:43 am: Worth keeping an eye on in the aftermath of Osama's death is the statements coming out from Pakistan -- especially from those who have strenuously denied that Osama was in the country. In an early reaction, former ISI chief Hamid Gul says "It is quite surprizing that Osama was inside Pakistan." Really.

11:40 am: With Islamic forums reacting mostly with disbelief to the news that Osama bin Laden was killed in a US commando operation in Pakistan, CNN now reports that the US will shortly reveal the al Qaeda leader's body to the media.

11:35 am: Even as crowds gather in Washington DC, New York's Times Square, and other venues across the United States to celebrate the killing of al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden, the US State Department is gearing for the blowback. In a statement, the State Department has warned Americans living in other countries of “enhanced potential for anti-American violence”. “Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, US citizens in areas where events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations," the statement reads. “US Embassy operations in affected areas will continue to the extent possible under the constraints of any evolving security situation. US government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. US citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. We urge US citizens to keep in regular contact with family and friends."

11:23 am:
Senator John F Kerry, who on a Democratic ticket contested against sitting President George W Bush in 2004, reacted to the news with this comment: We are a nation of peace and laws. Understand that our 10-year manhunt was in search of justice, not revenge."

11:20 am: Osama's wife, children arrested: Dunya TV, based out of Pakistan, is reporting that Osama bin Laden's six children and two wives have been arrested in Pakistan. The TV channel quoted sources as saying Osama's six children, two wives and four close friends were arrested during an operation launched early Monday morning by Pakistani forces in a mountainous area 60 km north of Islamabad.

11:15 am:
India's Ministry of External Affairs, reacting to the news of the day, put out the following official statement just now:

"President Obama of the United States has just announced that his government has conducted a successful operation that has resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan. This operation brings to closure an almost decade-long search for the head of the Al Qaeda. It is a historic development and victorious milestone in the global war against the forces of terrorism. Over the years, thousands of innocent lives of men, women and children have been tragically lost at the hands of terrorist groups. The world must not let down its united effort to overcome terrorism and eliminate the safe havens and sanctuaries that have been provided to terrorists in our own neighbourhood. The struggle must continue unabated."

11:10 am:
Apparently, the events of today began with the name of a courier. Given al Qaeda's chronic mistrust of telecommunications based on the fear that all forms of electronic communications can be monitored and their sources traced, al Qaeda senior leadership had relied on human couriers to convey messages among themselves. Identifying and tracking these couriers is a far more laborious process than monitoring electronic communications -- but perseverance apparently paid off, and the identification of one of Osama's most trusted couriers led to the firefight that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden. MSNBC has the story, and it reads like a thriller. Here's a quote from the story, about the hideout itself:

"When we saw the compound, we were shocked by what we saw: an extraordinarily unique compound."
The plot of land was roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. It was built in 2005 on the outskirts of town, but now some other homes are nearby.

"Physical security is extraordinary: 12 to 16 foot walls, walled areas, restricted access by two security gates." The residents burn their trash, unlike their neighbors. There are no windows facing the road. One part of the compound has its own seven-foot privacy wall.

And unusual for a multi-million-dollar home: It has no telephone or Internet service. This home, U.S. intelligence analysts concluded, was "custom built to hide someone of significance."

11:00 am: Pakistani journalist and political analyst Imtiaz Gul called the news of the killing of Osama bin Laden a "big embarassment to Pakistani intelligence", as Pakistan has been claiming, till very recently, that it has information bin Laden has been hiding in the mountainous region bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan.

10:50 am:
From birth to death: The Wall Street Journal has an interactive timeline detailing the life and times of Osama bin Laden

10:40 am:
Major newspapers have enshrined the practice of keeping obituaries prepared for leading world figures -- and judging by the speed with which this extensive obit of Osama bin Laden appeared on the New York Times site, it must have been kept ready for the day. Here it is -- perhaps the most detailed, extensive obit of the slain al Qaeda chief that you will read today: The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism

10:35 am: Reacting to the news that Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight on a farmhouse just 50 km from Pakistan capital Islamabad, the government of India has called on Pakistan to arrest those behind the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. It is expected that the government of India will use the news to underline its refrain that Pakistan is a haven for terrorists, and demand action.

10: 33 am:
An advance look at the New York Times front page, which will hit news-stands in the next few hours, that announces the death of Osama bin Laden.

10:30 am:
Despite the lateness of the hour -- the news of Osama's death broke on US TV shortly before midnight, and the official announcement by President Barack Obama was made around midnight -- leaders of various stripes have been reacting with joy to the news.

Former President George W Bush, who had in the aftermath of 9/11 vowed to get Osama dead or alive and whose inability to do so caused his second term as president to lose considerable luster, said "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."

Former President Bill Clinton said:
"This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaeda's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and co-operation for our children. I congratulate the president, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaeda attacks."

Senator John McCain, Obama's Republican opponent in the 2008 presidential elections, said "I am overjoyed that we finally got the world's top terrorist. The world is a better and more just place now that Osama Bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the president and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement. But while we take heart in the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "After September 11, 2001, we gave our word as Americans that we would stop at nothing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. After the contribution of millions, including so many who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, we have kept that word. The killing of Osama Bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation - and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation. New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."Map showing location of Abbottabad, where bin Laden was killedMap showing location of Abbottabad, where bin Laden was killed10:20 am: What is the possible impact on the global terrorist movement of the death of Osama bin Laden? That will form the focus of much analysis in the coming hours, but as we wait for the experts to weigh in, here's a piece worth reading by Tony Karon of Time magazine. A quote:

"But where killing or capturing Bin Laden might once have been imagined to be a decisive turning point in a struggle between the U.S. and its challengers in the Muslim world, today, the death of America's erstwhile nemesis is little more than an historical footnote -- a settling of accounts for a spree of ugly crimes and the elimination of a symbol of global jihadist nihilism, perhaps, offering justice and closure for the victims of 9/11 and other atrocities. But it does little to alter the challenges facing the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan or any other major country in the Muslim world. That's because much to his chagrin, Bin Laden and his movement have achieved only marginal  relevance to power struggles throughout the Muslim world. The strategy of spectacular acts of a terror had briefly allowed a band of a few hundred desperadoes to dominate America's headlines and its nightmares, but on the ground in the Muslim world al-Qaeda had largely been a sideshow, failing miserably in its goal of rallying the Islamic world behind its banners and finding itself eclipsed by such despised rivals in the battle for Islamist leadership as Iran, Hizballah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood."


10:15 am
: CNN reports that neither Pakistan president Zardari nor other members of the political and military hierarchy was informed about the operation because of the high level of distrust the US has, particularly with relation to the ISI.

10: 10 am:
Abbottabad, where is located the farmhouse Osama bin Laden was hiding out in, is located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakthunkhwa province in Pakistan. It is located just 50 km northeast of Islamabad and, significantly, is home to several key Pakistan military establishments. These two factors put together has analysts suggesting that despite public protestations that it did not know where Osama was, the Pakistan establishment was actively aiding and abetting the al Qaeda leader's attempts to stay out of reach of US authorities.

10: 05 am: Reports indicate that one of Osama's sons -- his identity has not yet been revealed -- was killed along with the al Qaeda leader. Also believed killed are an undisclosed number of al Qaeda personnel believed to be couriers relaying messages from Osama to the terrorist network's leadership.

9:55 am: The United States State Department has sent out alerts to all its embassies worldwide, asking for increased vigilance against possible reprisals. The alerts, it is believed, where sent out before the news of Osama's death was made public.

9:50 am: As details of the killing of Osama bin Laden continue to come in, analysts point out that the news has two immediate implications. Firstly, the fact that Osama has been hiding in plain sight, in a well guarded compound in Abbottabad, just about an hour and a half outside of the Pakistan capital Islamabad, casts doubt on the Pakistan political-military hierarchy -- this is not the tribal regions, analysts say; Osama does not have a network here, and if he was living on this farmhouse for months, it had to be with the knowledge and support of senior members of the Pakistan military and political hierarchy.

Equally importantly, analysts point out, as Pakistanis wake to the news of a US military operation on Pakistan soil, both the Pakistan military and the US will have to brace for a backlash. After a couple of weeks of relative quiet, last week saw the Pakistan Taliban step up operations; in three different bomb attacks on buses carrying Pakistan naval personnel, at least four were killed and several dozen wounded.

9:40 am:
In course of his speech, President Obama said he had first received credible intelligence regarding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden as of August last year. "Finally, last week I determined we had enough intelligence to take action," he said, adding that at his direction, an operation was launched to attack the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama was believed hiding in a luxurious mansion. Osama was killed in the resulting firefight involving a tight group of US commandos, Obama confirmed, adding that no US military personnel, or other civilians, were killed in the attack. "Justice has been done," the president said.

9:35 am:
In course of his speech, Obama said "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's struggle to defeat al Qaeda. We must and will remain vigilant at home and abroad." He also took care to dissociate Osama from Islam, saying the "US is not and never will be at war with Islam." Osama was not, the president pointed out, a Muslim leader; he was rather "a mass murderer" whose victims had included hundreds of thousands of Muslims. 

Even as he spoke, crowds swelled outside Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington DC, with the focus being the open space in front of the White House. Carrying US flags, the crowds sang the Star Spangled Banner and We are the Champions.

9:30 am: US analysts, in immediate reactions to the news that Osama is dead, say the killing of the al Qaeda head will have more "iconic" than "practical" value. It has been a long time, analysts say, since Osama was actively involved in planning al Qaeda strikes, and therefore the killing of Osama does not automatically mean that the terrorist organization is crippled. However, they point out, Osama has a halo effect for the organization, with many flocking to al Qaeda ranks simply because of the image of its founder. To that extent, they say, the killing of Osama will have a dampening effect in a symbolic, if not a real, sense. Analysts also said that the US and allies will now likely be doubly vigilant, as the prospect of retaliatory attacks cannot be ruled out.

9:25 am:
Even as President Obama confirmed the news that US counter terrorism personnel had killed Osama bin Laden and family members in a firefight at a location outside Islamabad, Pakistan, hundreds of Americans, mostly young people, began gathering outside the White House, waving US flags and celebrating the killing of the man held responsible for the 9/11 terrorist strikes on the World Trade Center and other locations.

9:20 am:
Would like to thank the intelligence personnel and officials involved in the operations for their relentless efforts, said Obama.

9:18 am:
Mr Obama said after "a firefight" US forces took possession of his body.

9:16 am:
The death of Mr. Bin Laden is a huge punctuation in the American-led war on terrorism. What remains to be seen is whether the death of the leader of Al Qaeda galvanizes his followers by turning him into a martyr, or whether it serves as a turning of the page in the war in Afghanistan and gives further impetus to the Obama administration to bring American troops home.9:15 am: A crowd outside the White House in Washington, cheer Sunday, May 1, 2011, upon hearing the news that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is dead.

9:13 am:
The fate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda number two in command, was unclear.

9:10 am: US launched a targeted an operation at the mansion outside Islamabad. There has been no casualty of US or civilians in the operation. After a fire fight at the mansion, Osama Bin Laden was killed, said Obama.

9:05 am: US President Barack Obama has confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden

9:00 am:
Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush made capturing Bin Laden a key national security priority. Obama has called the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan the “epicenter of violent extremism,” where he said al-Qaeda leader bin Laden was hiding.

8:50 am:
It is believed that bin Laden was killed in a mansion not far from Islamabad, Pakistan, with members of his family.

8:45 am: Obama will deliver the news to the nation in an address from the White House, almost 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks that bin Laden orchestrated. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. assets in a mansion outside Islamabad, Pakistan, along with other members of his family, an official said.

8: 30 am: A US administration official said that Osama's body is in US custody.

8:30 am: Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead and US President Barack Obama is to make a statement shortly, CNN reported Monday.