Killing of Osama bin Laden

On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, the founder and first leader of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was shot several times and killed at his compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, by United States Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six).[1] The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a CIA-led operation with Joint Special Operations Command, commonly known as JSOC, coordinating the Special Mission Units involved in the raid. In addition to SEAL Team Six, participating units under JSOC included the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)—also known as "Night Stalkers"—and operators from the CIA's Special Activities Division, which recruits heavily from former JSOC Special Mission Units.[2][3] The operation's success ended a nearly decade-long manhunt for bin Laden, who was wanted for masterminding the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Killing of Osama bin Laden
Part of the War on terror
Osama bin Laden's compound
Map of Operation Neptune Spear showing the locations of U.S. bases in Afghanistan and the approximate flight path to and from the compound in Pakistan
DateMay 2, 2011 (2011-05-02)
LocationOsama bin Laden's compound in Bilal Town, Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Also known asOperation Neptune Spear
OutcomeOsama bin Laden's body buried in the North Arabian Sea

The raid, approved by president Barack Obama and involving two-dozen Navy Seals in two Black Hawk helicopters, was launched from Afghanistan, where U.S. forces were based,[4] about 120 miles (190 km) away.[5] The raid was 40 minutes long; bin Laden was killed shortly before 1:00 a.m. PKT[6][7] (20:00 UTC, May 1).[8] Three other men (including one of bin Laden's sons) and a woman in the compound were also killed. After the raid was completed, U.S. forces returned to Afghanistan with the body of bin Laden for identification; they then flew over 850 miles (1,370 km) to the Arabian Sea, where his body was buried in accordance with Islamic tradition, within 24 hours of his death.[9]

Al-Qaeda confirmed the death on May 6 with posts made on militant websites, vowing to avenge the killing.[10] Other Pakistani militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, vowed retaliation against the U.S. and against Pakistan for not preventing the operation.[11] The raid was supported by over 90% of the American public,[12][13] was welcomed by the United Nations, NATO, the European Union and a large number of governments,[14] but was condemned by others, including two-thirds of the Pakistani public.[15] Legal and ethical aspects of the killing, such as the failure to capture him alive despite him being unarmed, were questioned by others, including Amnesty International.[16] Also controversial was the decision not to publish any photographic or DNA evidence of bin Laden's death.[17] There was also controversy in Pakistan as to how the country's defences were breached and the Air Force failed to pick up the American aircraft.[18]

After the killing, Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani formed a commission under Senior Justice Javed Iqbal to investigate the circumstances of the attack.[19] The resulting Abbottabad Commission Report, which revealed Pakistani state military and intelligence authorities' "collective failure" that enabled bin Laden to hide in Pakistan for nine years, was leaked to Al Jazeera on July 8, 2013.[20]

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