Oren: I was told about bin Laden before announcement

In Israel Radio interview, US envoy tells of how White House called him 2 hours before Obama's official announcement and said, "We got him."

May 3, 2011 09:52
1 minute read.
Michael Oren

Michael Oren 311. (photo credit: JP)


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US Ambassador Michael Oren on Tuesday said that he received a phone call from a senior White House official informing him that Osama bin Laden had been killed about two hours before US President Barack Obama's official statement on the assassination was made.

Speaking in an Israel Radio interview, Oren said the official simply told him "We got him," and he immediately knew he was referring to bin Laden.

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"I asked if he was captured alive, and the official answered 'no,' to which I replied, 'congratulations,'" Oren said.

Oren said that he then informed the Prime Minister's Office of the news. "When I told Jerusalem that the US had said 'we got him," they thought I was referring to [Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi. I told them I was referring to bin Laden, and they answered, "wow," the envoy said.

"The US appreciates the importance of Israel in fighting terror... we have very wide cooperation in this area on the ground and theoretically," Oren answered when asked why Israel was informed of the assassination. He added that both Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had subsequently called Netanyahu to update him on the bin Laden raid and the situation on the ground going forward.

Oren refused to discuss details of Netanyahu's upcoming speech to the US Congress expected to focus on the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians. He emphasized that while the whole world celebrated the death of bin Laden, Hamas condemned the US killing of the al-Qaida leader. He said that the US was aware of this, and that such behavior influences US Middle East policy.

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