Declaring “justice has been done,” President Obama announced late Sunday that Usama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, marking the end of the worldwide manhunt that began nearly a decade ago on Sept. 11, 2001.
“For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al Qaeda’s leader and symbol,” Obama said. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda.”
He said a “small team” of Americans went after bin Laden in Abbottabad on Sunday. “After a firefight, they killed Usama bin Laden and took custody of his body,” the president said.
Senior administration officials, in a briefing with reporters, afterward said the administration had determined by February that they would pursue the compound “custom built to hide someone of significance” in Pakistan. This decision led to a series of national security meetings starting in March to develop a course of action. Obama gave the final order to pursue the operation on April 29, officials said.
In the wake of bin Laden’s death, authorities around the world are being urged to take security precautions. One source said officials are concerned bin Laden’s death could incite violence or terrorist acts against U.S. personnel overseas.
The State Department issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens abroad overnight, citing “the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan.”
Obama said Americans must continue to be “vigilant.” But he said the death of the architect of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil should be welcomed around the world.
“Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims,” Obama said. “So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
Officials said bin Laden’s body, which was in U.S. custody, was given a sea burial.