The death of Bin Laden

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It is hard to believe that it has already been 6 years to the day since Obama Bin Laden was killed.

I can’t help but thinking what the Iranian born comedian Omid Djalili said about this.”We spent 10 years looking for Bin Laden. We scoured 27 countries looking for Bin Laden, we spent 2 Billions Dollars looking for bin laden . Where do we find him? In his house!”

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He was killed on May 2, 2011, by American military and C.I.A. operatives who tracked him to a compound in Pakistan.

President Obama announced the death in a televised address to the nation from Washington, where it was still late on the night of May 1. “Justice has been done,” he declared.

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The United States had been trying to kill or capture Bin Laden since it launched an invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001. The next month, he escaped from American and Afghan troops at an Afghan mountain redoubt called Tora Bora, near the border with Pakistan. For more than nine years afterward, he remained an elusive, shadowy figure frustratingly beyond the grasp of his pursuers and thought to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas and plotting new attacks.

When he was hunted down, Bin Laden was killed not in the wilderness but rather in the city of Abbottadad, about an hour’s drive drive north of the capital of Islamabad, raising anew questions about whether the Pakistani intelligence services had played a role in harboring him.

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The official mission code name was Operation Neptune Spear. Neptune’s spear is the trident, which appears on the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare insignia, with the three prongs of the trident representing the operational capacity of SEALs on sea, air and land.

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Behind the raid that killed Bin Laden lay years of intelligence work.  The turning point came in July 2010, when Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar and wrote down the car’s license plate.

The man in the car was Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month C.I.A. operatives would track him throughout central Pakistan. Ultimately he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by tall security fences in the wealthy hamlet 35 miles from Islamabad.

On a moonless night eight months later, 79 American commandos in four helicopters descended on the compound. Shots rang out. A helicopter stalled and would not take off. Pakistani authorities, kept in the dark by their allies in Washington, scrambled forces as the American commandos rushed to finish their mission and leave before a confrontation. Of the five dead, one was a tall, bearded man with a bloodied face and a bullet in his head. A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program.

In its initial account, the American government said that Bin Laden had been armed while taking part in the fierce firefight that broke out after a team of Navy Seals launched its assault. That was later revised to say that Bin Laden had been unarmed.

According to the later account, when the Seals reached the compound, they were immediately fired upon by Bin Laden’s trusted courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.

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The SEALs encountered bin Laden on the third floor of the main building.Bin Laden was “wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a kurta paijama“, which were later found to have €500 and two phone numbers sewn into the fabric.

Bin Laden peered through his bedroom door at the Americans advancing up the stairs, and then retreated into the room as the lead SEAL fired a shot at him, which either missed or hit him in the side. Robert O’Neill, who later publicly identified himself as the SEAL who shot bin Laden,rolled through the door and confronted bin Laden inside the bedroom.

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Seymour Hersh reports that, according to his sources, bin Laden was found cowering and shot dead

The commandos killed him and a woman with him. When the Seals moved into the main house, they saw the courier’s brother, who they believed was preparing to fire a weapon. They shot and killed him. Then, as they made their way up the stairs of the house, officials said they killed Bin Laden’s son Khalid as he lunged toward the Seal team.

When the commandos reached the top floor, they entered a room and saw Osama bin Laden with an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in arm’s reach. They shot and killed him, as well as wounding a woman with him.

And just like that, history’s most expansive, expensive and exasperating manhunt was over. The inert frame of Bin Laden, America’s enemy No. 1, was placed in a helicopter for burial at sea, never to be seen or feared again.

According to U.S. officials, bin Laden was buried at sea because no country would accept his remains. Before disposing of the body, the U.S. called the Saudi government, who approved of burying the body in the ocean.Muslim religious rites were performed aboard Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea within 24 hours of bin Laden’s death.

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The claims that O’Neill killed bin Laden came on October 5, 2014, in anticipation of a Fox News special called The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden,which was expected to reveal his identity and details of the mission Operation Neptune Spear. He had previously been interviewed anonymously in an Esquire magazine article in February 2013.

O’Neill’s statements resulted in criticism by fellow Navy SEALs. Rear Admiral Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci issued a public statement,

A critical tenant [sic] of our ethos is “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions

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1993 World Trade Center bombing

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On February 26, 1993, terrorists parked a rental van in a garage underneath the World Trade Center’s twin towers and lit the fuses on a massive homemade bomb stuffed inside. Six people died and more than 1,000 were injured in the subsequent explosion, which carved out a crater several stories deep and propelled smoke into the upper reaches of the quarter-mile-high skyscrapers.

Completed in 1973, the World Trade Center’s twin towers loomed over lower Manhattan at 110 stories each. Although these iconic buildings, which were the tallest in the world before being overtaken by Chicago’s Sears Tower, struggled at first to attract tenants, some 50,000 office workers eventually filled them to near capacity. Tens of thousands of additional visitors came daily to check out the view from an observation deck or a 107th-floor restaurant.

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Safety concerns became apparent as early as 1975, when a disgruntled custodian set a fire in the north tower that caused millions of dollars in damages and prompted calls for the installation of a sprinkler system. A decade or so later, the government agency that owned the World Trade Center began examining possible terrorism threats. But it ended up ignoring many of its security team’s recommendations, including that public parking be eliminated or that cars at least be randomly inspected.

In September 1992 explosives expert Ramzi Ahmed Yousef arrived in New York City on a flight from Pakistan and began planning an attack on the World Trade Center, with the alleged goal of toppling the north tower into the south tower.

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He received help from followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind, Egyptian-born Muslim cleric who spoke in sermons of destroying the “edifices of capitalism.”

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The plotters rented a storage locker in New Jersey, where they stockpiled urea, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and other ingredients for making bombs. They simultaneously concocted a nitroglycerin trigger at a nearby apartment and scouted out the World Trade Center’s underground floors.

On February 26, 1993, the plotters loaded their homemade bomb, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, into a yellow Ford Econoline van they had rented from a Ryder dealership in New Jersey.

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Two of them then drove it across the Hudson River into Manhattan, made their way south to the World Trade Center, entered the basement parking garage between the north tower and a hotel, parked in an illegal spot on a ramp, lit four 20-foot fuses, got into a car that had trailed them and sped off.

At 12:17 p.m. the bomb exploded, knocking out the World Trade Center’s sprinklers, generators, elevators, public address system, emergency command center and more than half of the high-voltage lines that fed electricity to the complex. The FBI later called it the “largest by weight and by damage of any improvised explosive device that we’ve seen since the inception of forensic explosive identification.” Six people died, including a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 others were injured, mostly from smoke that snaked its way up the stairwells and elevator shafts. Yet both towers remained standing.

As rescue workers dug for victims, survivors began making their way out by any means possible. A woman in a wheelchair was carried down 66 flights of stairs by two friends. A class of singing kindergartners descended from the 107th floor. A group of engineers stuck in an elevator pried open the doors and then used car keys to cut a hole in the sheetrock walls leading out to a 58th-floor women’s bathroom. Nearly 30 people with medical conditions were taken to the roof and whisked away by police helicopter. By late that night, the buildings had been completely cleared. They would not reopen for nearly a month.

Investigators sifting through the rubble soon came across the vehicle identification number for the rental van, which had been reported stolen the day before the attack. FBI agents then arrested Mohammad Salameh, who had rented the van under his own name, when he returned to the Ryder dealership to ask for his $400 deposit back.

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Subsequent arrests were made of Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad and Mahmoud Abouhalima. In March 1994 a federal jury convicted the four of them for their role in the bombing, and they were each sentenced to life behind bars.

Meanwhile, authorities uncovered a related plot in which followers of Sheikh Abdel Rahman planned to blow up the George Washington Bridge, the United Nations headquarters and other New York City landmarks. In that case, the sheikh and nine co-defendants were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other terrorism-related charges. A third case led to life sentences for Yousef, who was captured in Pakistan in 1995, and the driver of the rental van, who was captured in Jordan that same year. Only one suspect, who fled to Iraq after being questioned and released by the FBI, remains at large.

In the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing, the buildings’ owner repaired the damage, upgraded elevators and electrical systems, put battery-operated emergency lights and luminescent paint in the stairwells, and set up emergency command centers. By 2000 the complex had reached its highest occupancy rate of all time. But terrorism struck again on September 11, 2001, when militants associated with the Islamic extremist group Al Qaeda flew hijacked planes into the towers, killing nearly 3,000 people. More than 11 years later, reconstruction at the site, which includes a 9/11 memorial and the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, is nearing completion.

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