US team's mission was to kill bin Laden, not capture

Special forces team that shot al Qaida leader had no intention of merely taking him prisoner; "This was a kill operation," says security official.

May 2, 2011 15:29
1 minute read.
Slain al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden

Bin Laden 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - The US special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al Qaida mastermind, not capture him, a US national security official told Reuters.

"This was a kill operation," the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan.

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On Sunday, a small American team led a helicopter raid on a large compound in a residential area of Abbottabad, Pakistan, some 35 miles north of Islamabad, killing the al Qaida leader in a fire fight and capturing his body, according to senior administration officials. The New York Times reported that his body was later buried at sea. No Americans were killed or injured, though a helicopter was lost to mechanical failure, they said.

US President Barack Obama addressed the nation in a televised address from the White House late Sunday evening to announce the death.

“Justice has been done,” he said, bringing to an end the United States's 10-year mission to hold Osama bin Laden accountable for masterminding the September 11 attacks.

Obama stressed that bin Laden’s demise did not conclude America’s effort to end the threat posed by Al Qaida, and that future dangers remained.

“There’s no doubt that al Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us,” he warned. “We must –- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.”

But he said that this moment would send a strong signal that the United States would do whatever was necessary to protect the American people.

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