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: