Osama bin Laden Killed - Watch Obama's Statement Here
Tonight, President Barack Obama told the nation (video below) that Osama bin Laden, the founder of al Qaeda and sponsor of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, is dead, killed in a firefight with U.S. troops at a mansion in a town just outside of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The U.S., Obama said, has custody of Bin Laden's body.
Obama said he was presented with intelligence last August suggesting Bin Laden's whereabouts, but had to wait until circumstances permitted the U.S. to move forward with the operation, which involved the sensitive matter of allowing U.S. troops on the ground in Pakistan.
The killing of Bin Laden on Pakistani soil could spell trouble for the Pakistani government. A steady stream of U.S. attacks by unmanned drones in the country's North West Frontier Provinces has hardened the attitudes of many Pakistanis against the U.S., especially a number of those attacks have killed civilians, including children.
Yet Pakistan is a crucial ally of the U.S. as it pursues the Taliban in Afghanistan, in a war born of the 9/11 attacks launched by Bin Laden, and with the knowledge, some believe, of certain figures in the Pakistani intelligence establishment. Indeed, it is quite stunning that Bin Laden was living within shelling distance of the Pakistani capital, something that would have been impossible, it's fair to assume, without the protection of powerful forces within Pakistan.
Obama forcefully noted that that U.S. killing of Bin Laden is not a comment on America's posture toward Islam.
"[W]e must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam," Obama said. "I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam."
As proof, Obama offered his own assessment of Bin Laden's bona fides as a Muslim. "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader," Obama said. "He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity."
This coming autumn, Americans will mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, now without the shadowy, lurking presence of Bin Laden in the wings. The death of Bin Laden, however, is a victory more symbolic than anything. The Saudi extremist was said to have had little operational role in al Qaeda in recent years, and his right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahri, has yet to be captured.
Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan, according to ABC News, which is reporting that bin Laden's death was
likely the result of either a U.S. intelligence or military operation. The U.S., says ABC's Martha Raddatz, has Bin Laden's body in custody. CNN is reporting that Bin Laden was killed in a mansion just outside of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, in a firefight conducted by U.S. ground forces.
President Barack Obama's statement, delivered just before midnight on Sunday, May 1, is below, via MSNBC.