The capture of Osama Bin Laden, leader of the Taliban and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre is worthy of a Spielberg movie script. And this time the bad guy goes to meet his maker.
Credible intelligence reached President Obama August last year – after years of following various leads - and a secret mission was planned to capture Bin Laden. The group chosen to execute the mission was SEAL Team Six, which is officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known in Virginia as just DevGru.
DevGru belongs to the Joint Special Operations Command, an extraordinary and unusual collection of classified standing task forces and special-missions units. They report to the president and operate worldwide based on the legal (or extra-legal) premises of classified presidential directives. Though the general public knows about the special SEALs and their brothers in Delta Force, most JSOC missions never leak. We only hear about JSOC when something goes bad (a British aid worker is accidentally killed) or when something really big happens (a merchant marine captain is rescued at sea), and even then, the military remains especially sensitive about their existence. (source)
For 4 years, US intelligence tracked one of Bin Laden’s couriers who was identified by one of the prisoners arrested after 9/11.
They were led to the fortress-like three-storey building after more than four years tracking one of bin Laden's most trusted couriers, who US officials said was identified by men captured after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Seals group began to rehearse their mission in early April this year. This meant going through every moment of the mission they were charged with. Then came the day – May 1, 2011. The Seals came from just across the border in Afghanistan to Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan. They then flew in the modified MH-60 helicopters from Ghazi to Abbottabad which was incidentally about 60 miles from the center of Islamabad. Exactly in what way the helicopters were modified is not clear – were they painted in Pakistani colours or some other disguise? In any case they had to evade Pakistani detection which they did as the helicopters were equipped with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers. [Incidentally Islamic science has never invented any of these].
Then they landed at the compound. Make no mistake Bin Laden was not slumming it in cave at this time nor in a bed and breakfast in a village but was in a million-dollar compound in an upscale suburb with his youngest wife. Not for him the suicide missions on which he sent so many young men and women. Luxury, nice food and lovely gardens evidently were more his style.
The home is in Abbottabad, a town about 60 kilometres north of Islamabad, that is relatively affluent and home to many retired members of Pakistan's military. Abbottabad, a popular summer resort, is located in a valley surrounded by green hills near Pakistani Kashmir. Islamist militants, particularly those fighting in Indian-controlled Kashmir, used to have training camps near the town. Bin Laden's building, about eight times the size of other nearby houses, sat on a large plot of land that was relatively secluded when it was built in 2005. (source)
The Seals then carried out their rehearsed moves in less than one hour. There were shootouts as they searched for Bin Laden. Then they found him. Imagine how they felt on seeing this mastermind of evil who had led so many innocent people – non Muslim and Muslim - to their deaths. Imagine if you were one of the SEALS and facing this monster in a room where he just stood looking at you – that beard, those empty evil eyes. The Seals then actually offered to take Bin Laden prisoner but he refused and another shootout then ensued. Bin Laden then showed his total lack of moral integrity in one final gesture by putting his young wife in front of him in the line of fire. Both she and Bin Laden [and one of his adult sons] were killed.
After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap -- boom, boom -- to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. (source)
One of the helicopters was found to have failed mechanically. Apparently. the US helicopter stalled as it hovered above the compound but the pilot managed to land it again inside the walls. He was unable to restart it. The Seals had to blow the helicopter up as leaving it in its current state would give away secret codes knows only to US intelligence. So the faulty helicopter was blown up and then the SEALS enacted their Plan B which they had rehearsed to the last second. They got away without Pakistani military or intelligence forces ‘catching up’ with them. Or was this planned beforehand to look this way?
One of the most glaring questions for the Pakistani military is -– who knew Bin Laden was there in Abottobad? Who was protecting him? (reference)
One version of the story is that he was led by Pakistani and US intelligence to this place as it was too difficult to pursue him in the caves. Bin Laden was always on the move but he was led ‘into a trap’ according to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan. Abbottabad is a popular holiday resort around this time of year and Bin Laden may have been lured into thinking he was safe amidst the growing crowds.
Pakistan's High Commissioner in the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan believes the al-Qaeda founder and leader was led to the compound where he was found in an intelligence "trap". (source)
Another question remains – who owned the house in which Bin Laden stayed. Surely it was not registered in the name of Bin Laden? And how did he stay undetected for the time he was there – given that his compound was near a major Pakistani military academy?
Of course this event places Pakistani Christians and indeed all non-Muslims in a situation of heightened threat from revenge attacks. For some information of this and various differing Pakistani views of the events, with differing accounts of some of the issues, here is a piece written shortly after the events. For instance there are predictable denials that the events even took place.
In a statement, extremist group Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban dismissed the operation as a sham, saying that as far as they are concerned Osama is still alive. Retired Pakistan Inter Service Intelligence chief Hameed Gul also cast doubts about the operation and US claims, saying that in the footage shown on TV channels Bin Laden looks too young. However, “Obama is a smart person” and “this is a great start to his election campaign”. (source)
Some Muslims are rejoicing at Bin Laden’s death. Others are finding it hard to believe. But even Tehrik-e-Taliban will have to admit finally that Bin Laden is no longer on this earth. With no virgins, raisins or Mohammed, Bin Laden may be hearing a very different version of events from where he is now. All that effort at violence – and for what? And the victims of his violence still weep.