Osama bin Laden is Dead

Our guys got him – in Pakistan, of all places.

WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a firefight with elite American forces Monday, then quickly buried at sea in a stunning finale to a furtive decade on the run.

Long believed to be hiding in caves, bin Laden was tracked down in a costly, custom-built hideout not far from a Pakistani military academy.

“Justice has been done,” President Barack Obama said in a dramatic announcement at the White House while a crowd cheered outside and hundreds more gathered at ground zero in Manhattan to celebrate the news.

The military operation took mere minutes.

U.S. helicopters ferrying elite counter-terrorism troops into the compound identified by the CIA as bin Laden’s hideout — and back out again in less than 40 minutes. Bin Laden was shot in the head, officials said, after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault.

Three adult males were also killed in the raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida. U.S. officials also said one woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant, and two other women were injured.

The U.S. official who disclosed the burial at sea said it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial.

“I heard a thundering sound, followed by heavy firing. Then firing suddenly stopped. Then more thundering, then a big blast,” said Mohammad Haroon Rasheed, a resident of Abbottobad, Pakistan, after the choppers had swooped in and then out again.

Read about the prolonged intelligence campaign to pin down his whereabouts.

I’ll try to think of something profound to say later on. For the moment, I can break down my reaction into three short statements:

1. (To the gentlemen responsible) Bravo Zulu. And thank you.

2. Better late than never.

3. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

New Yorkers react. Some here might imagine the students at Columbia are holding a memorial service or sewing a quilt, but no; they’re happy, too.

The Vatican reacts, in the person of Fr. Frederico Lombardi:

Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose.

In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.

Afghans react: They warn us not to make too much of bin Laden’s death, but concede it does have some strategic value:

“This is a big blow to Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda’s followers because he was a popular and famous figure, and he was a very expert man and was planning major attacks,” said Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban member who is now part of the High Peace Council.

“I don’t think this will affect the Taliban fight in Afghanistan in the short term, but in the long term it will because Al Qaeda helped the Taliban in fighting and other activities,” he said, adding that he thought it would drive the Taliban toward negotiations and making peace with the government “because they don’t have any other way.”

The Times adds: “The Afghan Taliban had no immediate statement.”

Update: Full video of President Obama’s announcement:

YouTube Preview Image

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    I am a Christian and I am rejoicing today. It is a GREAT day for this nation and our warriors.

    3,000 people, their families and friends have finally gotten a taste of justice. The countless thousands with wounds – physical and mental – who have gone on with their lives everyday with the knowledge that the monster still lived – have justice.

    And for Heather Lee Smith – Flight 11; daughter of friends and a bright light; she and her family get justice.

    I am under no illusions that this will put an end to terrorism. But for one day – this country needs to have this moment. We’ve waited nearly 10 years for it.

  • Max Lindenman

    I’m basically with you, Kris. And if this were my own blog, I’d probably be gloating. But I’m standing in for Elizabeth. I have a feeling she’d be very Christian and reflective about the whole thing, so I owe it to her to adopt a similar tone.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    I am a Christian and an American Airman; I have been deployed twice to help fight America’s wars.

    I preface this comment with those qualifications not to boast, mine was a small part and now I have a desk job in a headquarters, but to assure everyone that what follows is not from some idea of war far removed from the fighting of it.

    We certainly won a victory yesterday…American warriors killed a dangerous enemy leader in his own house during a daring raid. It was proof once again that there is no place on Earth safe from America’s mighty arm.


    It was one victory. The war is not over. It is not likely to be over any time soon. There will be more blood. Not all of it will be our enemies’ blood.

    War is, indeed, hell. Those men and women in America’s legions who carry the burden of war do not rejoice in the death of an enemy. They may have the satisfaction of doing their duty, the pride in knowing they’ve made the world a little safer, and the relief to know they’ve survived contact once again. It is fitting for Americans and our allies to be happy with this victory, and maybe hoist a glass or two to our warriors’ honor.

    But those emotions must be tempered by two thoughts:

    The first is that the war will go on, and this rest following a major victory is only temporary. Tomorrow, my fellow warriors will “ruck up and move out” against a fanatical enemy to attempt to close with and destroy him before he does the same with us.

    The second thought is we are not Hamas nor the Taliban. We don’t stage street demonstrations to celebrate someone’s death. No matter what heinous crimes that someone committed. Fr Lombardi is right.

    What we did yesterday was put down the human equivalent of a rabid animal. I have no sympathy for Osama…good riddance as far as I’m concerned…but that’s not cause for joy or celebration.

    Just cause for relief that we’ve survived another day in order to remain in this time of Grace, reduced the threat to our civilization just a bit, and continue working out our own salvation in fear and trembling.

    Pro Deo et Patria.

  • Pete

    Let’s all hear it for President Obama for getting this done!

  • Brian English

    “In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.”

    Really? Perhaps Fr. Lombardi should check into the facts underlying the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, celebrated by the Church every year on October 7th.

  • The FatMan

    I agree with Maximus Decimus Meridius.

    “The U.S. official who disclosed the burial at sea said it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains.”

    Ummm-my first suggestion would have been, “Ask Pakistan.”

    The Osama leadership void will be filled quickly. There is no shortage of US/West haters.

    The FatMan

  • Anushree Shirali

    I was in NYC on Sept 11th and watched the second plane hit the tower from the roof of St. Vincent’s hospital in lower Manhattan. Later, from a patient’s room, I shared the horror of my patient as we saw the first tower collapse. I have very mixed feelings about yesterday. For those who lost their loved ones that day, I hope that Bin Laden’s death is some small measure of justice. Yet that momentary hope is tempered by the knowledge that not even his death nor the death of anyone and everyone connected to the attacks can make sense of and truly atone for the evil of that day. As a Catholic, only the Cross upon on which hung great Suffering can help me to reconcile that day with the notion of a merciful God. In that light, I am grateful for Fr. Lombardi’s Christian reflections and to Maximus for his measured words and gracious tone. May God bless our country and the world, keep our soldiers free from harm, and hear the prayers of all who long for peace.

  • dry valleys

    I agree with Pete. He won’t be missed.

  • http://chrysologus.blogspot.com Adam Rasmussen

    The Vatican’s statement will not jibe with many Americans, but I believe it is right. The Bible says: “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live” (Ezek. 33:11). We should be glad that, as a direct result of his death, global terrorism will be set back (how much no one knows for sure) and global peace will be advanced. But, in accordance with the teaching of Jesus Christ (“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” [Matt. 5:43-44]) we should not rejoice at his death per se. Nor can we assume that his soul is in hell (though that wouldn’t be surprising), since God alone is Judge.

  • dymphna

    So, he’s been living large in Packistan. Our so called allies knew where he was all along.

  • Max Lindenman

    dymphna: Good observation. Will find links to in-depth coverage of the issue.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    John Donne famously said, “Any man’s death deminishes me…”

    Not this one, baby! Not this one. This calls for breaking out my best Scotch. Cheers, salute.

    Enjoy hell, you son-of-a-b.

  • Ellen

    I prayed for him. Admittedly, not as heartfelt as I should have prayed, but God’s mercy is unfathomable.

    But I am very happy the evil SOB did not die in his bed.

  • Korora

    May the Lord have mercy on his soul.

  • John Scott

    I note that the Osama bin Laden’s compound was located abt. 350 meters from the property line of Pakistan’s elite Military Academy – their equivalent of West Point. Well within sniper range. Either the Pakistani military and the local government are totally incompetent buffoons with no interest in security in a small military town, or they knew very well who lived in that very expensive, well-guarded compound. I submit that they are NOT totally incompetent buffoons. Thanks Pakistan. Glad you appreciate all our tax money.

  • Will

    We must continue to improve our intelligence-gathering ability and ability to make strategic strikes on terrorists. This is more important than our attempts at “nation building.”

  • Doc

    A few thoughts:

    I will gladly hoist a glass with you, Manny.

    I would’ve preferred his head on a spike outside Ground Zero or the Pentagon, but some may consider that tacky.

    His burial site would’ve become a Jihadist shrine, but Michael Yon pointed out that the rapid disposal of the body at sea will fuel the Muslim World’s penchant for conspiracy theories that we didn’t actually kill him.

    We need to reconsider the myth that Pakistan is a helpful ally, given that only a fool would now believe that Osama was living next to, what, 3 military bases without their complicity.

    Good thing Obama and Holder were blocked by Republicans in their desire to close Gitmo, or this intel would not have been gathered. Don’t expect any public Mea Culpa by the White House.

    Good job by the president in making the take-down call.

  • Linda

    While Bin Laden will not be missed, I will never rejoice in the death of fellow human. He too, was a child of our God.

    I also wonder if bringing him to justice in a court of law, before the world, would give us more credibility and less danger of repercussion

  • Brian English

    “But I am very happy the evil SOB did not die in his bed.”

    I am also glad he came face-to-face with American troops and knew there was no escape.

  • Brother Jeff

    I’m so proud of our Special Forces, what an amazing, awesome success. Even after a helicopter malfunctioned.

  • Gerry

    So, was this one of those rare cases when (according to the new rules, not Saint Augustine’s) that capital punishment is justifiable?

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    @Gerry. This wasn’t “capital punishment” because it was not a judicial proceeding. It was a battle. The American raiders reportedly requested (briefly) that OBL surrender. He declined and they killed him in battle. Totally consistent with Agustinian and Thomastic ethics.

    That said…had he been convicted in a court of a capital offense, I do believe the only way society could adequately defend itself would be execution by the State. So, yes, in this case my opinion is that capital punishment would not only be justified, but necessary.

  • Bender

    I have no problems with bin Laden’s demise, especially since it was probably necessary to protect the lives of others. But as I mentioned over at my place, it is not cause for rejoice, from a Christian perspective, since God does not delight in the death of the wicked.

    In addition, parsing Obama’s words, it is interesting that he said that bin Laden was killed “after a firefight.” After. Not, “during.” Not “in.” After. That would suggest that he was not “killed,” but was instead executed.

    Indeed, reports are now surfacing that they went in with a kill order from Obama. Even if bin Laden’s death were necessary (and I can agree that it was), the manner in which it came about raises more than a few moral and legal questions. Killing someone after hostilities have ended, after the person is essentially captured, is a war crime.

    That is a problem.

  • dry valleys


    I would act to this that it’s possible to be a vicious and tyrannical Islamist, or other religious fundamentalist, without blowing people up. The same essential “values” permeate the Afghan and Pakistani states and are equally objectionable even if they haven’t killed any Americans in the course of their outrages against women, children, and free thinkers.

    The fact is that someone like Malalai Joya will certainly be celebrating his demise but will barely be able to draw breath before their next battle against the entrenched forces of theocracy and backwardness.

    I have supported various humanitarian interventions, not Iraq, but Afghanistan and Libya, but I would stress that this is only part of the work of restoring human dignity to unhappy parts of the world and most of this work must be done by locals, not westerners.

  • Maryette

    We are all made in the image and likeness of God, as was Osama bin Laden.

    Once upon a time, I had some VERY bad neighbors, the kind of neighbors that screamed expletives at us and threatened to kill us in front of our children, and that was just the beginning of the sorrows of living across the street from them. One day while chatting about our troubles with our wonderful pony-tailed, philosopher mailman, Max, I remarked that the neighbors were trashy, or white trash, or something to that effect. His response? “God doesn’t make any trash.”

    Good point, Max (the mailman Max). My scary, rotten neighbors, Osama bin Laden, me, my children——-we were all created by God and are His children. God is our loving Father, and no loving father rejoices in the loss of a child. Unless Osama truly repented (which I doubt highly), then he is a child of God now lost for all eternity.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    @Bender. I was wondering when someone would trot out the “war crime” meme. Really? You who sit in comfort and safety 5,000 miles from the battle want to parse the words of a news report and suggest there was a “war crime”?

    You have zero…nada…no context for that statement and it dishonors you more than coloring the courage and professionalism of the warriors who dispatched OBL. The phrase “after a firefight” simply means that he was killed at the end of the fight, rather than during it.

    The soldiers are not policemen…this was not an arrest…it was a military raid to capture or kill an enemy combatant. Men die in battle. Thank God this time there were no friendlies on the casualty list this time.

  • craig

    “The phrase “after a firefight” simply means that he was killed at the end of the fight, rather than during it.”

    I took this to be the meaning as well: the firefight ended with his death. But even if his death occurred by summary execution after capture, it still would not be a war crime. Pirates, terrorists, spies, and other illegal combatants flout the entire basis for laws of warfare by intentionally hampering others’ ability to distinguish between fighters and civilian populations. For this reason, they are not, repeat not entitled to prisoner-of-war rights; they may (and should) be considered as enemies of all mankind, and summarily executed.

  • Brother Jeff

    Let us not forget the nauseating glee that Osama expressed as he watched the Towers fall on cable television; he said the devastation was even “better” than he expected, and he had been a structural engineer and had premeditated the whole thing.

    The man was laughing and rejoicing as he watched thousands of people die a world away in a cowardly sneak attack. Do we remember the anxiety of the people on the planes; the murdered pilots, the panicked stewardesses, the innocent passengers, one a former classmate of mine with a two year old baby?

    And here’s a newsflash to all those worrying if the jihadists will “now” attack us: they were already planning on doing that before this happened. No matter what we do, attack, retreat, hide our heads in the sand, pray, rejoice, etc., their m.o. is the same: kill Americans, jews, and everyone else who doesn’t submit to “Allah.”

    God may be merciful to him, but he deserved none from the United States, and got none.

  • AboutDangTime

    I did not rejoice as I read it just before bedtime. Instead, I went to bed praying hard for even more protection for all peoples of the world against this sick, theo-political movement of islamo-terrorism.

    I became emotional only this morning when I heard sound clips of the Army, Air Force and Naval cadets celebrating this large shot-in-the-arm. It caused the 10 year dam to break. Our poor troops have born such a burden all these years, so many of them we’ll never see again. Tho’ the war is far far from over, yes, this did our fighting men and women a dose of long overdue satisfaction and purpose.

    My question is: how much could have been avoided if old Billy-Jeff had offed the b*st*rd when he had the chance many years ago? What a coward.

    I’m so proud of our military men to have a dead helicopter and still fulfill the mission whether or not they had a ride home.

    There are so many of these brainwashed islamo-terrorists, even living among all of us here in the US that there are any number of willing idiots ready to step up and fill OBL’s shoes or philosophical shoes at least. That is why I pray. And pray hard. Our Lady of Victory, pray for us! and please dear Mother, keep assisting our troops.

    Pres Obama called himself the Gipper in the last few months. I wonder if showing a bit of spine and military might is part of his new image to get re-elected?…He even gave tribute to the troops in the latest White House Journalists Dinner; that I found odd as he never was a big supporter of our troops, phoney-baloney visit to them and all.

  • Bender

    Max — I said that the reports raise questions.

    You may wish to blindly cheer, but the questions remain.

    And, if you believe that it is legally or morally permissible to shoot a combatant who has already been captured, then instead of spouting this crap about me sitting here in the comfort of my home, perhaps you need a refresher course on the law of war.

    I don’t know that that is what happened here. I do know that the reports heretofore raise the need to find out more about what did happen.

  • Bender

    Moreover, you state that you were “wondering when someone would trot out the ‘war crime’ meme.”

    That suggests that you yourself already knew that this is an issue.

    I merely wrote publicly what you were already privately thinking.

    So get off your high horse.

  • dry valleys
  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    In addition, parsing Obama’s words, it is interesting that he said that bin Laden was killed “after a firefight.”

    Bender I think you are parsing the words a bit too closely or literally.

    OBL died as part of a firefight; a mission of an elite squadron under orders from their Commander in Chief. OBL was given the option to surrender and refused. He died as a result of those actions.

    I’m sure the SEALs will sleep soundly tonite – they should. They have done their country proud and I am grateful for their courage, bravery and fortitude in the face of such evil.

  • dry valleys
  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    There is no Christian way to fight a war. War is brutality at its core. That goes for any Crusades or Catholic/Protestant war or any so called religiously sanctioned war. There were no knights of the round table, there were no good cowboys and bad Indians or vice versa. There was the fire bombing of Dresden and the dropping of the atom bomb. There was and is only killing or getting killed. War is brutal killing. When you’re face to face in a battle, there are no rules. Anyone thinking otherwise is utopian.

    And really, the report I just saw was that Osama used his wife as a human shield.

    Doc in #15, thanks. I am not God. I don’t have universal comapassion. The death of such evil is worth having a drink over.

  • Will

    John Brennan said that while the possibility of capturing bin Laden alive was considered remote prior to the assault, “if we’d had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have.”
    - NPR on the internet

  • Roz Smith

    I’ve been smiling all day at this vision of OBL spending eternity with Sister Louise Joseph and 71 others of her ilk. My father, a gravel voiced hulk who had led men in combat, was purely amazed at the discipline she instilled on a pack of 13 year old boys, most of them close to twice her size.

  • SteveM

    Agree with #37 Manny.

    The Neocon Cult of Military Exceptionalism and its sanctification of Marshal sensibilities is disturbing.

    My father was from the WW II generation. And those guys did not consider themselves “heros” or “warriors”. They were simply GIs who implicitly knew that they were trapped in the crushing vise of voracious history. They had to do a lot of mindless killing to survive and then got out without looking back.

    So when they did get out, they left the war behind in the dust where it belonged. Rarely any war stories. They didn’t exhibit their military paraphernalia as a call to obeisance like militarist Congressman Allen West or the other idolators of death.

  • SteveM

    P.S. Sorry, #35 Manny

  • Bender

    I was parsing Obama too much? Not when one considers the other reports, which support the questions I raised.

    And then, there is this being reported today –

    “However, during a background, off-camera briefing for television reporters later Monday, a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed, apparently by the U.S. raid team.

    “Another White House official familiar with the TV briefing confirmed the change to POLITICO, adding, ‘I’m not aware of him having a weapon.’”

    Unarmed. Shot at close range.

    I ask it again — was bin Laden effectively captured when he was killed? Was this an execution “after a firefight,” and not a case of a combatant killed in action?

  • brother jeff

    I wouldn’t hold your breath for Congressional hearings. Osama signed his own death warrant on September 11, 2001