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May 4 - 10 2011 No. 1032
THE WEEKLY WORLD EDITION OF The Daily Telegraph AND The Sunday Telegraph telegraph.co.uk/expat
A day filled with romance, pageantry and playfulness is sealed with a kiss
By Toby Harnden in Washington OSAMA BIN LADEN was killed by a bullet fired by a United States Navy SEAL during a 40-minute helicopter assault on a fortified compound believed to have been purpose-built to hide the al-Qaeda leader.
Three other men were killed in what a senior Obama administration official described as “a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimise collateral damage”.
These were believed to be two al-Qaeda couriers who lived at the compound, along with their families, and an adult son of bin Laden. A woman being used as a shield by one of the al-Qaeda men during the firefight was also killed and two other women wounded.
A helicopter involved in the raid suffered mechanical failure and was blown up by the American team, none of whom were killed or injured. The Pakistani government was not informed of the raid until after it was over.
Details of the make-up of the team that killed bin Laden were closely guarded but the CIA was closely involved in the planning and execution of the raid.
Troops from a SEAL unit –
the US Navy’s elite Special Forces cadre that draws its name from Sea, Air, Land – is understood to have formed its core.
The compound, in Abbottabad, some 35 miles from Islamabad, was built in 2005 and appears to have been the bin Laden family residence for some time.
It took years for the compound to be located. Initially, the CIA knew only the nom de guerre of a man believed to be a trusted courier for bin Laden. Four years ago, his true identity was discovered and two years ago the places in Pakistan where he frequented were established.
The crucial breakthrough came last August when the compound where the courier lived along with his brother, another courier, was pinpointed and President
Barack Obama briefed. The compound was in an affluent area of Abbottabad where many retired Pakistani military officers lived.
Initially built in a secluded area at the end of a dirt road, more homes had sprung up nearby. But the compound was about eight times larger than any other residence. It was protected by two security gates and 12-18ft high walls.
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