The US special forces’ hit on Osama bin Laden had been in preparation for over nine months before it was launched.
In a mission the CIA said was designed to remove bin Laden from the battlefield, four helicopters and US ground forces were used in a night strike against a walled 3,000 square metre complex in an affluent suburb near the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
The complex was in a garrison town, surrounded by military buildings, some just hundreds of metres away from Pakistan’s most wanted terrorist, who was living behind five metre-high walls topped with razor wire, and with two security entrances. From the outside it was clearly a place of importance.
Bin Laden, one of his sons and his closest attendants were killed in a fierce gunbattle, after which his body was taken to US naval units offshore for DNA identification. Officials then then said his body was disposed of at sea to prevent a gravesite on land becoming a shrine for followers.
A photograph that has been circulating of his bloodstained body after the assault has been denounced as a forgery by press professionals.