US President Barack Obama announced yesterday that Osama bin Laden has been killed by a small strike force. The leader of al Qaeda was eliminated in a gun fight that took place on a compound located in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a few kilometers away from the capital Islamabad.
The operation was carried out with surgical precision via helicopters, and the team that went into the heavily-guarded complex lost only one aircraft. There were no casualties among Americans, but bin Landen, three other men – one of them allegedly his son – and a woman were killed.
The latter was used as a human shield by one of the combatants defending bin Laden. Obama underlined during a speech that the entire strike was conducted with the intent of minimizing casualties and victims among civilians.
Bin Laden was hiding in a house located in a populated suburb, and this made the operation harder to conduct. However, the President said that the outcome was the best possible under the circumstances.
He also added that most of the praise for this success should be directed towards the men and women of the surveillance, intelligence and counter-terrorism communities, which worked together over the past decade or so to ensure that this day finally comes.
With the killing of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda was dealt a massive blow. However, this also puts the US at an increased risk of terrorist attacks in the near future. Usually, such events cause retaliatory attacks, as terrorists try to avenge their leaders.
Senior officials at the White House said in a press briefing that the nation has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard itself and its citizens against such a threat.
In his speech, Obama called on Americans to show the same type of unity that they did on September 11, 2001, when all of this was set in motion.
“In our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country,” the President said.
“We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. […] And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies,” he added.
“For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda,” Obama explained.
“Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must – and we will – remain vigilant at home and abroad,” he said.