Detailed intel led U.S. to bin Laden compound
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writerU.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden toward the end of a 40-minute firefight on one of the top two floors of the main building inside the al-Qaida leader’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound, senior defense officials confirmed Monday.
Posted : Monday May 2, 2011 15:10:13 EDT
Posted : Monday May 2, 2011 15:10:13 EDT
An initial DNA analysis done on bin Laden’s body resulted in a “virtually 100 percent DNA match of the body against several bin Laden family members,” a senior intelligence official said. Bin Laden’s body was also visually identified by a woman at the compound who is assessed to be one of his wives.
Bin Laden’s body was flown to the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier stationed in the north Arabian Sea where service members prepared his body under traditional Islamic procedures. He was buried at sea at 2 a.m. Monday after U.S. diplomats could not find a nearby country willing to accept the body, a senior defense official said.
U.S. personnel onboard washed bin Laden’s body, placed it under a white sheet and then inside a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which a native Arabic speaker then translated, before tipping the body into the sea.
“There was no available alternative in terms of a country that was willing to accept the body and we took pains to ensure we were compliant with Muslim tradition involved and sought to dispose of the body with proper procedures,” a senior defense official said Senior defense and intelligence officials briefed reporters Monday at the Pentagon on the intelligence work leading to the raid, how bin Laden died and the cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan’s government.
Bin Laden died along with three other “military-aged” males and one female used as a human shield. Bin Laden lived with his family in the second and third floor of the larger of the two buildings at the million dollar compound, a senior intelligence official said. Bin Laden put up a fight but the officials who spoke to reporters wouldn’t say if he was holding a weapon.
Satellite imagery released by the Pentagon showed the compound did not exist in 2004. Walls 12-to-18 feet high surrounded the compound’s two main buildings. The compound is eight times the size of any other in Abbottabad, a town about 60 miles from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
U.S. special operators did not take any detainees, leaving the other women and children judged to be non-combatants inside the compound, a senior intelligence official said.
U.S. special operators moved the women and children away from the one helicopter that broke down before using explosives to destroy it.
The U.S. did not contact Pakistan leaders before the special operations team had left bin Laden’s compound with the body. A senior intelligence official said the U.S. had no “indication that the Pakistanis were aware that Osama bin Laden was at the compound.”
When asked if military leaders were worried that Pakistani soldiers might respond to the compound and fire upon the U.S. special operations team, the senior defense official said the “focus was on operational security and ensuring this could be done with success and without interruption.
“This was a unilateral U.S. operation because of its importance to the mission and our concern about operational security. We did not notify any of our counterterrorism partners in advance. Once the raid was successfully completed and U.S. personnel were safe, we did immediately phone our Pakistani counterparts at multiple levels,” a senior defense official said.
The defense official described “some areas” of Pakistan as a “steadfast partner in counterterrorism” but “in other areas that cooperation has not been what we’d like it to be.”
“We continue to have very candid conversations with the Pakistanis about what more we should be doing together,” the senior defense official said.
U.S. special operators collected “quite a bit” of intelligence at the compound before leaving, a senior intelligence official said. The CIA will stand up a task force to sift through the “volume of materials collected at the raid site,” the senior intelligence official said.
Intelligence and defense agencies have spent years collecting intelligence to eventually build the case pinpointing bin Laden’s whereabouts to the Abbottabad compound. The senior intelligence official said no single detainee led U.S. forces to the compound, but it was accomplished through a host of interviews along with other intelligence trade craft.
A senior White House official said U.S. intelligence agencies had focused on the compound since August as a potential hideout.
“We did collect information over time that helped form a picture that once we came across this compound allowed us to move swiftly on the intelligence case,” a senior intelligence official said.
The senior defense and intelligence officials did not give special operations details and would not confirm if U.S. Navy Seals was the special operations team tasked for the raid.
The officials would not say what helicopters were flown on the raid, or how many, however Abbottabad residents have reported seeing four helicopters execute the raid.