|Osama bin Laden أسامة بن لادن|
|March 10, 1957 – May 2, 2011 (aged 54)|
|Place of birth||Riyadh, Saudi Arabia|
|Place of death||Abbottabad, Pakistan|
|Resting place||North Arabian Sea|
|Service/branch||Sunni Islam (Wahhabism)|
The operation was authorized by President Barack Obama and carried out by members of the United States Navy SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), informally referred to by its former name, SEAL Team Six, under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command, in conjunction with U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives.
The team was sent across the border of Afghanistan to launch the attack.
The killing of bin Laden received a favorable response in the United States and was welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, and a large number of countries as a positive and significant turning point for global security and the War on Terror.
The Pakistani government was criticized for failing to apprehend bin Laden, who had been living in a large prominent compound in a major Pakistani city, close to Pakistan's premier military academy and 30 miles from the capital, Islamabad.
Pakistani officials denied knowingly harboring bin Laden, saying that they had no knowledge that he was there, and strongly denied allegations of official support for him.
Locating Osama bin Laden: American intelligence officials discovered the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden by tracking one of his couriers, as bin Laden was believed to have concealed his whereabouts from al-Qaeda foot soldiers or top commanders.
Identity of the courier
CIA aerial photo of the compound
In 2003 Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged operational chief of al-Qaeda, revealed under interrogation that he was acquainted with al-Kuwaiti but that he was not active in al-Qaeda.
Ghul further revealed that al-Kuwaiti had not been seen in some time, a fact which led U.S. officials to suspect he was travelling with bin Laden.
When confronted with Ghul's account, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stuck to his original story.
Abu Faraj al-Libi was captured in 2005 and told CIA interrogators that bin Laden's courier was a man named Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan.
Because both Mohammed and al-Libi had minimized al-Kuwaiti's importance, officials speculated that he was part of bin Laden's inner circle.
In 2007 officials learned al-Kuwait's real name, though they will not disclose the name nor how they learned it.
The CIA never found anyone named Maulawi Jan and believes al-Libi made it up.
In 2010 a wiretap of another suspect picked up a conversation with al-Kuwaiti.
CIA officials located al-Kuwaiti and followed him back to bin Laden's compound.
Al-Kuwaiti and his brother were killed along with bin Laden in the May 2, 2011 raid.
Since the name Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan appears in the JTF-GTMO detainee assessment for Abu Faraj al-Libi released by WikiLeaks on April 24, 2011, there has been speculation that the US assault on the Abbottābad compound was expedited as a precaution.
Location of the compound
Using satellite photos and intelligence reports, the CIA determined the identities of the inhabitants of the mansion to which the courier was traveling.
Officials surmised that he was living there with his youngest wife.
Abbottābad is about 100 miles from the Afghanistan border on the far eastern side of Pakistan (about 20 miles from India).
There were two security gates, and the third-floor balcony had a seven-foot-high (2.1 m) privacy wall (which could hide the 6' 4" [1.93 m] bin Laden).
There was no Internet or telephone service connected to the compound.
Its residents burned their trash, unlike their neighbors, who set their garbage out for collection. Local residents called the building the Waziristan Haveli (haveli is a term used in India and Pakistan that roughly translates to mansion) and believed it to be owned by a transporter from Waziristan, or possibly a gold merchant.
Bin Laden had previously spent time in the Waziristan area of Afghanistan.
The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, using drone-derived intelligence, developed "what amounted to a detailed four-dimensional 'map' of the bin Laden compound and its occupants and their patterns of living and working."
This map was used to create a model of the compound for practice runs.
CIA director Leon Panetta issued a memo that also credited the National Security Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for contributing to the intelligence-gathering that made the raid possible.
Role of Pakistan: Pakistan's role in the operation was criticized by many people around the world. Pakistan defended its role and stated that it had no prior information that bin Laden was in Abbottabad.
Allegations against Pakistan
Aspects of the incident that have fueled the allegations include the proximity of bin Laden's heavily fortified compound to the Pakistan Military Academy, that the United States did not notify the Pakistani authorities before the operation, and the alleged double standards of Pakistan regarding the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
U.S. government files leaked by Wikileaks disclosed that American diplomats were told that Pakistani security services were tipping off bin Laden every time U.S. forces approached.
Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also helped smuggle al-Qaeda militants into Afghanistan to fight NATO troops.
In his first interview after the operation CIA chief Leon Panetta stated that the CIA had ruled out involving US nominal ally Pakistan in the operation, fearing that "any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets."
Obama echoed her sentiments.
U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said "This is going to be a time of real pressure on Pakistan to basically prove to us that they didn’t know that bin Laden was there".
John O. Brennan, the chief counterterrorism advisor to Obama, stated that it was inconceivable that bin Laden did not have support from within Pakistan.
He further stated: "People have been referring to this as hiding in plain sight. We are looking at how he was able to hide out there for so long."
Air strikes on Tora Bora in 2001
Senator Dianne Feinstein stated that "it's hard for me to understand how the Pakistanis... would not know what was going on inside the compound" and said that top Pakistan officials may be "walking both sides of the street."
Senator Lindsey Graham questioned: "How could [bin Laden] be in such a compound without being noticed?", raising suspicions that Pakistan was either uncommitted in the fight against Islamist militants or was actively sheltering them while pledging to fight them.
A Pakistani intelligence official said that they had passed on raw phone tap data to U.S. that led to the operation but had failed to analyze this data themselves.
Indian Minister for Home Affairs, P. Chidambaram said that bin Laden hiding "deep inside" Pakistan was a matter of grave concern for India and showed that "many of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, including the controllers and the handlers of the terrorists who actually carried out the attack, continue to be sheltered in Pakistan".
He also called on Pakistan to arrest them.
Pakistani-born British MP Khalid Mahmood stated that he was "flabbergasted and shocked" after he learned that bin Laden was living in a city with thousands of Pakistani troops, reviving questions about alleged links between al-Qaeda and elements in Pakistan's security forces.
According to a Pakistani intelligence official, raw phone-tap data had been transferred to the United States without being analyzed by Pakistan.
While the U.S. "was concentrating on this" information since September 2010, information regarding bin Laden and the compound's inhabitants had "slipped from" Pakistan's "radar" over the months.
Bin Laden left "an invisible footprint" and he had not been contacting other militant networks.
It was noted that much focus had been placed on a courier entering and leaving the compound.
The transfer of intelligence to the U.S. was a regular occurrence according to the official, who also stated regarding the raid that "I think they came in undetected and went out the same day", and Pakistan did not believe that U.S. personnel were present in the area before the special operation occurred.
According to the Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan had prior knowledge that an operation would happen.
Pakistan was "in the know of certain things" and "what happened happened with our consent. Americans got to know him—where he was first—and that's why they struck it and struck it precisely."
Husain Haqqani, Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., had said that Pakistan would have pursued bin Laden had the intelligence of his location existed with them and Pakistan was "very glad that our American partners did. They had superior intelligence, superior technology, and we are grateful to them."
Another Pakistani official stated that Pakistan "assisted only in terms of authorization of the helicopter flights in our airspace" and the operation was conducted by the United States.
He also said that "in any event, we did not want anything to do with such an operation in case something went wrong."
Operation Neptune's Spear
|Operation Neptune's Spear|
|Location||Osama bin Laden's hideout compound,Bilal Town, Abbottābad, Pakistan|
|Objective||Kill or capture Osama bin Laden|
|Date||May 2, 2011|
01:00 PST (UTC+5)
|Executed by||United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group|
|Outcome||Osama bin Laden, one of his sons, his courier, the courier's brother, and one woman are killed|
According to the Associated Press, "Officially, it was a kill-or-capture mission, since the U.S. doesn't kill unarmed people trying to surrender. But it was clear from the beginning that whoever was behind those walls had no intention of surrendering, two US officials said."
ABC News wrote, after the fact, "as CIA director Leon Panetta explained to PBS' [NewsHour] yesterday, 'the authority here was to kill bin Laden. And obviously under the rules of engagement, if he in fact had thrown up his hands and surrendered and didn't appear to represent any kind of threat then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him...' And they did. He was unarmed, but he resisted capture, his wife rushed a Navy SEAL, and there was no way the SEALs could have known in that split second whether bin Laden or the room was booby-trapped in any way."
White House counterterrorism advisor John O. Brennan stated after the raid that “if we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn't present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that.”
However, another U.S. national security official, who was not named, told Reuters that “'this was a kill operation,' making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.”
Another source referencing a kill (rather than capture order) states: “Officials described the reaction of the special operators when they were told a number of weeks ago that they had been chosen to train for the mission. 'They were told, "We think we found Osama bin Laden, and your job is to kill him,"' an official recalled. The SEALs started to cheer.”
After an intelligence-gathering effort on the courier's Pakistan compound that began September 2010, Obama met with his national security advisers on March 14 to create an action plan.
They met four more times (March 29, April 12, April 19 and April 28) in the six weeks before the raid, including once on March 29, 2011 when Obama personally discussed the plan with Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, the commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command.
"Many multiple possible courses of action" were presented to Obama in March and "refined over the course of the next several weeks."
According to ABC News, the first approach considered by U.S. officials was to bomb the house using B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, which could drop 32 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs).
Obama rejected this option, opting for a raid that would provide definitive proof that bin Laden was inside, and limit civilian casualties.
Another one of the "courses of action" (COA) suggested by JSOC was "a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch."
Deploying drones was apparently not a feasible approach, in part because of limited firepower and in part because the compound's location was "within the Pakistan air defense intercept zone for the national capital."
The commando-led course of action (COA) had multiple risks, including the fact that the extensive preparation and training necessary to pull it off "provided greater chances for information to leak out over the ensuing months, scuttling the mission and sending bin Laden deeper into hiding."
Members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group began training for the raid (the objective of which remained unknown to them) after the March 22 national security meeting, "holding dry runs at training facilities on both American coasts, which were made up to resemble the compound."
As plans progressed through the month of April, the DEVGRU SEALs began more specific training exercises on a one-acre replica of the Waziristan Haveli that was built inside Camp Alpha, a restricted section of the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, practicing rappelling down into it from helicopters, among other tactical approaches.
On April 29, at 8:20 am, Obama convened with Brennan, Thomas E. Donilon, and other national security advisers in the Diplomatic Reception Room and gave the final order to raid the Abbottābad compound.
The raid planned for that day was postponed until the following day due to cloudy weather.
Execution of the operation
Approach and entry
The raid was carried out by 20 to 25 helicopter-borne United States Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) of the Joint Special Operations Command, temporarily transferred to the control of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The SEALs flew into Pakistan from Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (Previous reports indicated that they may have staged through Tarbela Ghazi Airbase in northwest Pakistan, but Pakistan has denied that the U.S. used a location in Pakistan to launch the raid.)
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), an airborne unit of the United States Army Special Operations Command sometimes called the "Nighthawks," provided two modified Black Hawk helicopters, and two Chinooks as backups.
The raid was scheduled for a time with little moon luminosity so the helicopters could enter Pakistan "low to the ground and undetected," and the helicopters used hilly terrain and nap-of-the-earth techniques to reach the compound without appearing on radar and alerting the Pakistani military.
Once the raid began, the Pakistani military scrambled their fighter jets but did not interfere with the raid.
The DEVGRU operators fast-roped out of the Blackhawks.
After the operators were on the ground, one of the hovering helicopters stalled in a vortex created by its own prop wash and the high compound walls, and "rolled onto its side" during an emergency landing outside the compound.
At approximately 1:00 a.m. local time (20:00, May 1 UTC), the SEALs breached the compound's walls using explosives and attacked the compound's structures as the compound's occupants opened fire.
The SEALs killed the guards, who may have consisted of only the courier and his brother, and then cleared the various structures in compound, including the main building, room-to-room.
Fighting took place in the main building on the first floor, where two adult males lived, and on the second and third floors, where bin Laden lived with his family.
The second and third floors were the last section of the compound to be cleared.
Personnel in the compound encountered and captured by the SEALs, including women and children, were restrained with plastic zip ties and left in place until the raid was over, at which point the SEALs moved them all outside.
"The encounter with bin Laden lasted only seconds," according to Politico, and took place during "the last five or 10 minutes" of the raid.
According to U.S. officials, Bin Laden resisted the American special operation team. He was unarmed when he was shot.
Bin Laden was killed by at least one and possibly two American bullets, one of which struck the left side of his head. (The second shot was either a second bullet to the head, or to the chest.)
Three other men and a woman present at the compound were also reportedly killed in the operation, including bin Laden's adult son, the courier and his relative (alias Arshad Khan and Tariq Khan) and the courier's wife.
Two other women were injured.
According to ABC News, bin Laden's fifth wife Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah was one of the injured women: "When the SEALs entered the room in which bin Laden was hiding, his wife charged them and was shot in the leg."
It remains unclear which of bin Laden's adult sons was killed in the raid.
While bin Laden's body was taken by U.S. forces, the bodies of the four others killed in the raid were left behind at the compound.
The exact number and identity of the people living in the compound is uncertain.
Several appear to be members of the Osama bin Laden family, including possibly his fourth wife and their daughter.
A Pakistani official told the New York Times that nine children ranging from two to 12 years old were placed in Pakistani custody; seven of those children may have belonged to the courier and his relative.
The raid was intended to take 30 minutes.
All told, the time between the team's entry in and exit from the compound was 38 minutes.
U.S. personnel removed computer hard drives, documents, DVDs, thumb drives and "electronic equipment" from the compound for later analysis, including at least "10 cell phones, 10 computers and 100 thumb drives."
The helicopter that had made the emergency landing was damaged and could not fly the team out.
It was consequently destroyed to safeguard its classified equipment; after they "moved the women and children to a secure area"
The assault team "called in one of two backup [helicopters]" to ferry them back to their base.
According to Obama administration officials, U.S. officials did not share information about the raid with the government of Pakistan before the operation, but did notify Pakistan after its successful completion.
According to the Pakistani foreign ministry, the operation was conducted entirely by the U.S. forces; however, Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials stated that they were also present at what they called a joint operation, a claim which President Asif Ali Zardari has flatly denied.
According to ABC News, Pakistani fighter jets were scrambled in an attempt to locate and identify what turned out to be the U.S. helicopters used in the raid.
Eyewitness account: One of bin Laden's daughters said to Pakistani investigators that the SEALS captured him alive but shot him dead in front of family members. 
Local accounts of raid
Details of the raid, albeit observed from a distance, were tweeted by Abbottābad resident Sohaib Athar, who initially did not know what was happening; he had begun tweeting by complaining about the unaccustomed noise of low-flying helicopters.
The UK Telegraph quoted a resident of the area who said: "We saw four helicopters at around 2 am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside."
According to BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad, reporting two days after the raid, ISI informed him after questioning survivors of the raid that there were 17 to 18 people in the compound at the time of the attack and that the Americans took away one person still alive, possibly a bin Laden son.
The ISI also said that survivors included a wife, a daughter and eight to nine other children, not apparently bin Laden's.
There were conflicting reports in the media regarding what the official mission code name was.
Unlike bin Laden, Geronimo was never killed by U.S. military forces.
Channel 4 News said "According to some analyses today, the U.S. military chose the code name because bin Laden, like Geronimo, had evaded capture for years. If they were trying to avoid mythmaking, it seems they chose the wrong code name."
Native Americans objected to the use of the name Geronimo.
"It's how deeply embedded the 'Indian as enemy' is in the collective mind of America," said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Morning Star Institute, a Native American advocacy group.
"There is little doubt [the] use of a leader like Geronimo to refer to bin Laden is ill-advised," wrote Keith Harper, an attorney and member of the Cherokee Nation, in an email with a reporter for the The Washington Post.
Identification of the body
According to ABC News, identification methods included measurement of the body (both the corpse and bin Laden were 6' 4" (1.93 meters) tall); facial recognition software (a photograph transmitted by the SEALs to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia yielded a 90 to 95 percent likely match), and two women from the compound identified bin Laden's body after death.
ABC News, the Associated Press, and The New York Times reported that bin Laden's body was identified by DNA testing, using tissue and blood samples taken from his sister who had died of brain cancer.
ABC News stated, "Two samples were taken from bin Laden: one of these DNA samples was analyzed, and information was sent electronically back to Washington, D.C., from Bagram. Someone else from Afghanistan is physically bringing back a sample."
One of bin Laden's wives identified the body.
Bin Laden's body was photographed multiple times (in Pakistan, Afghanistan and aboard the USS Carl Vinson) before it was buried at sea, sparking a debate about whether to release the photos.
Those supporting the release of the photos said it would prove his death and prevent conspiracy theories that bin Laden is still alive, while others expressed concern that the photos would inflame anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.
On May 3, 2011, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview with NBC Nightly News that photographs of the deceased bin Laden would "ultimately" be released, but the White House immediately denied that any decision had been made, referring to the photos—which reportedly show that a portion of bin Laden's skull had been blown off—as "gruesome".
President Obama ultimately decided not release the photos, in hopes of ward off backlash to the violent imagery.
Burial at sea
The body was transported to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group One, operating in the northern Arabian Sea, and at 1:10 am EDT, the body was "washed in accordance with Islamic custom, placed in a white sheet, then put inside a weighted bag".
Under Islamic tradition, however, burial at sea is considered by some to be inappropriate when other, preferred forms of burial are available, and several prominent Islamic clerics criticized the decision.
In the Sunni Shafi'i Fiqh book Umdat al-Salik wa Uddat al-Nasik, the condition for sea burial is given as follows: "It is best to bury him in the cemetery... If someone dies on a ship and it is impossible to bury him on land, the body is placed between two planks and thrown into the sea."
The advantage to the United States of a burial at sea is that the burial site is not readily identified or accessed, thus preventing a burial site from becoming a focus of attention or "terrorist shrine".
It also quotes a U.S. official explaining the difficulty of finding a country that would accept the burial of bin Laden in its soil.
Other American Muslim chaplains such as Imam Abdullah El-Amin of Detroit's Muslim Center have voiced concern against the sea burial, given that the deceased died on land.
Address of President Barack Obama
Late in the evening of May 1, 2011, major American news organizations were informed that the president would give an important speech on an undisclosed subject related to national security.
He explained how the killing of bin Laden was achieved after following up on a lead from August 2010, what his role was in the series of events, and what the death of bin Laden meant on a symbolic and practical level.
|“||Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound, in Abbottābad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.||”|
—President Barack Obama, May 1, 2011
Although Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have stated that justice was done, some legal experts and others are not convinced.
Professor Nick Grief, an international lawyer at Kent University stated the attack had the appearance of an "extrajudicial killing without due process of the law."
On a note of caution he added: "It may not have been possible to take him alive... but no one should be outside the protection of the law."
Even after the end of the second world war, Nazi war criminals had been given a "fair trial."
Michael Mansfield QC also had his doubts about whether sufficient efforts had been made to capture bin Laden.
"The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymised with justice, and that revenge will supplant 'due process'."
"Assuming the mission was... intended to detain and not to assassinate, it is therefore imperative that a properly documented and verifiable narrative of exactly what happened is made public. Whatever feelings of elation and relief may dominate the airwaves," he said, "they must not be allowed to submerge core questions about the legality of the exercise, nor to permit vengeance or summary execution to become substitutes for justice."
The human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said that the killing risked undermining the rule of law.
"The security council could have set up an ad hoc tribunal in The Hague, with international judges (including Muslim jurists), to provide a fair trial and a reasoned verdict," he wrote in The Independent.
"This would have been the best way of demystifying this man, debunking his cause and de-brainwashing his followers."
John Bellinger III, who served as the state department's senior lawyer during George Bush's second term as president, also insisted the strike was legitimate.
"The killing is not prohibited by the long-standing assassination prohibition in executive order 12333 [signed in 1981] because the action was a military action in the ongoing US armed conflict with al-Qaida and it is not prohibited to kill specific leaders of an opposing force. The assassination prohibition also does not apply to killings in self-defence. The executive branch will also argue that the action was permissible under international law both as a permissible use of force in the US armed conflict with al-Qaida and as a legitimate action in self-defence, given that bin Laden was clearly planning additional attacks."
A US embassy spokesman in London put forth the American justification as "in war you are allowed to attack your enemy."
The Pakistan foreign ministry has called into question the legality of American action by expressing "deep concerns" about the "unauthorised unilateral action".
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked the American government to explain whether US forces acted legally in their killing of Osama bin Laden.
Amnesty International said it was seeking "greater clarification" about what went on, while New York-based Human Rights Watch said "law enforcement" principles should have applied.
Hours later, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that if bin Laden had, in fact, been killed, it was, "a great victory for us because martyrdom is the aim of all of us" and vowed to take revenge on Pakistan and the United States.
Tehrik-i-Taliban later confirmed bin Laden's death.
Fans attending a nationally televised Major League Baseball game between two National League East rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, at Citizens Bank Park initiated "U-S-A!" cheers in response to the news.
In addition, at the conclusion of WWE Extreme Rules, which was occuring at the time, WWE Champion John Cena announced to the audience in attendence the capture and "compromise to a permanent end" of Osama Bin Laden, prompting chants while he exited the arena to the song "Stars and Stripes Forever".
Mahmud Ezzat, the deputy leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, said that, with bin Laden dead, western forces should now pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan; authorities in Iran made similar comments.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas welcomed bin Laden's death; the rival Hamas administration in the Palestinian Gaza Strip condemned the killing of an "Arab holy warrior", possibly in order to "cool tensions in the territory with Al-Qaeda inspired Salafi groups" that consider Hamas "too moderate".
Intelligence postmortem: A special CIA team has been tasked with combing through the digital material and documents removed from the bin Laden compound.
Earlier death reports
- December 2001: Quoting an unnamed Taliban official, the Pakistan Observer reported that bin Laden died of untreated lung complications and was buried in an unmarked grave in Tora Bora on December 15. This report was picked up by Fox News in the U.S. on December 26. Also on December 26, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Wafd carried a shortobituary by a "prominent official" of the Afghan Taliban, who was supposedly present at the funeral, stating bin Laden had been buried on or around December 13:
A videotape was released on December 27 showing a gaunt, unwell bin Laden, prompting an unnamed White House aide to comment that it could have been made shortly before his death. On CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta commented that bin Laden's left arm never moved during the video, suggesting a recent stroke and possibly a symptom of kidney failure.According to Pakistani President Musharraf, bin Laden required two dialysis machines, which also suggested kidney failure. "I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a... kidney patient," Musharraf said. If bin Laden suffered kidney failure, he would have required a sterile environment, electricity, and continuous attention by a team of specialists, Gupta said. In April 2002, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated, "We have heard neither hide nor hair of him since, oh, about December in terms of anything hard." FBI Counterterrorism chief Dale Watson and President Karzai of Afghanistan also expressed the opinion that bin Laden probably died at this time.
"[Osama bin Laden] suffered serious complications and died a natural, quiet death. He was buried in Tora Bora, a funeral attended by 30 Al Qaeda fighters, close members of his family and friends from the Taliban. By the Wahhabi tradition, no mark was left on the grave"
- July 2002: FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson states that bin Laden "is probably not with us anymore but I have no evidence to support that."
- October 2002: Hamid Karzai stated that "I would come to believe that [bin Laden] probably is dead."
- November 2005: Senator Harry Reid stated that "I heard today that he may have died in the earthquake that they had in Pakistan, seriously."
- Late 2005: CIA disbands "Bin Laden Issue Station", codenamed "Alec Station", the CIA's bin Laden tracking unit, 1996–2005.
- September 2006: On September 23, 2006, the French newspaper L'Est Républicain quoted a report from the French secret service (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure, DGSE) stating that bin Laden had died in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, after contracting a case of typhoid fever that paralyzed his lower limbs. According to the newspaper, Saudi security services first heard of bin Laden's supposed death on September 4, 2006. The supposed death was reported by the Saudi Arabian secret service to its government, which reported it to the French secret service. The French defense minister Michèle Alliot-Marie expressed her regret that the report had been published while French President Jacques Chirac declared that bin Laden's death had not been confirmed. American authorities also could not confirm reports of bin Laden's death, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying only, "No comment, and no knowledge." Later, CNN's Nic Robertson said that he had received confirmation from an anonymous Saudi source that the Saudi intelligence community has known for a while that bin Laden has a water-borne illness, but that he had heard no reports that it was specifically typhoid or that he had died.
- November 2007: Political interviewer David Frost interviewed Pakistani politician and Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto on November 2, 2007. In answering a question as to who had previously attempted her assassination, Bhutto named Omar Sheikh as a possible suspect, identifying him as "the man who murdered Osama bin Laden." Despite the significance of such a statement, neither Bhutto nor Frost attempted to clarify it or discuss it further during the remainder of the interview. Omar Chatriwala, a journalist for Al Jazeera English, said that he chose not to pursue the story at the time because he believed Bhutto misspoke, meaning to say that Sheikh had murdered Daniel Pearl — and not Osama bin Laden. The BBC drew criticism when it rebroadcast the Frost/Bhutto interview on its website, but edited out Bhutto's statement regarding bin Laden. Later the BBC apologized and replaced the edited version with the complete interview. In October 2007, Bhutto stated in an interview that she would cooperate with the American military in targeting bin Laden.
- 2008: Robert Baer, a former CIA operative, stated that "Of course he’s dead" and questioned the relevancy of bin Laden.
- April 2009: During an interview with The Telegraph, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari raised the prospect that bin Laden could be dead, after he said that intelligence officials could find "no trace" of the al Qaeda chief. Zardari's predecessor, Pervez Musharraf, similarly suggested that bin Laden could be dead. Additionally, Pakistan's intelligence agencies believed bin Laden possibly to be dead.
- March 2009: Angelo M. Codevilla, a professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, wrote that "all the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama bin Laden."
- May 2009: In Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?, it was argued that bin Laden had died of kidney failure.
Previous attempts to capture or kill bin Laden
- February 1994: A team of Libyans attacked bin Laden's home in Sudan. The government investigated and reported that they had been hired by Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia accused them of lying to make bin Laden more amenable to Sudanese interests.
- August 20, 1998: In Operation Infinite Reach, the US Navy launched 66 cruise missiles at a suspected al Qaeda training camp outside Khost, Afghanistan, where bin Laden was expected to be. Reports said that 30 people may have been killed.
- 2000: Foreign operatives working on behalf of the CIA fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a convoy of vehicles in which bin Laden was traveling through the mountains of Afghanistan, hitting one of the vehicles but not the one in which bin Laden was riding.
- December 2001: During the opening stages of the war in Afghanistan launched following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. and its allies believed that bin Laden was hiding in the rugged mountains at Tora Bora. Despite overrunning the Taliban and al-Qaeda positions they failed to capture or kill him.
The swift burial of the body at sea, speed of the DNA results and refusal of President Obama to release the pictures has led to theories that bin Laden did not die in the May 2 raid.
The Daily Telegraph reported on May 3, 2011 that "several Facebook groups have sprung up with titles such as 'Osama bin Laden NOT DEAD'".
Some Internet blogs have suggested that the US government feigned the raid, and Internet forums have seen debates over the alleged hoax.
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- January 2011 satellite image of the area where Osama bin Laden was captured (DigitalGlobe)
On May 2, news correspondents documenting reaction filled Church Street between Vesey Street and Barclay Street, adjacent to Ground Zero.