Osama bin Laden killed during U.S. operation in Pakistan

(AP) - Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermindbehind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands ofAmericans, was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan early Mondayin a firefight with U.S. forces, ending a manhunt that spanned afrustrating decade. "Justice has been done," President Barack Obama said in adramatic announcement at the White House. A jubilant crowd of thousands gathered outside the White Houseas word spread of bin Laden's death. Hundreds more sang and wavedAmerican flags at Ground Zero in New York - where the twin towersthat once stood as symbols of American economic power were broughtdown by bin Laden's hijackers 10 years ago. Another hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon on thatcloudless day, and a fourth was commandeered by passengers whoforced it to the ground - at cost of their own lives - before itcould reach its intended target in Washington. The United States attacked Afghanistan within months, pursuingal-Qaida, and an invasion of Iraq followed as part of the Bushadministration's global war on terror. U.S. officials said the CIA tracked bin Laden to his location,then elite troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top militarycounter-terrorism unit, flew to the hideout in four helicopters.Bin Laden was shot in the head in an ensuing firefight, theseofficials said, adding that he and his guards had resisted hisattackers. U.S. personnel identified him by facial recognition, theofficial said, declining to say whether DNA analysis had also beenused. The U.S. team took custody of bin Laden's remains. A U.S.official later said bin Laden had been buried at sea and theremains were handled in accordance with Islamic practice, whichcalls for speedy burial. The official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity todiscuss sensitive national security matters, said it would havebeen difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. Theofficial did not say where the body was buried. Obama said no Americans were harmed in the operation. Threeadult males were also killed in the raid, including one of binLaden's sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden's sons,Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida. U.S. officials also said onewoman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant,and two other women were injured. The operation occurred in pre-dawn darkness on Monday inPakistan - Sunday afternoon in Washington. Obama went on televisionlate Sunday night to make the announcement. Bin Laden's death marks a psychological triumph in a longstruggle that began with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and seemscertain to give Obama a political lift. But its ultimate impact onal-Qaida is less clear. The greatest terrorist threat to the U.S. is now considered tobe the al-Qaida franchise in Yemen, far from al-Qaida's core inPakistan. The Yemen branch almost took down a U.S.-bound airlineron Christmas 2009 and nearly detonated explosives aboard two U.S.cargo planes last fall. Those operations were carried out withoutany direct involvement from bin Laden. Obama provided few details of the operation beyond to say thathe had personally ordered it be carried out. Other officials saidit was so secretive that no foreign officials were informed inadvance, and only a small circle inside the administration wasaware of what was unfolding half a world away. But within hours of the announcement, Pakistani officials and awitness said bin Laden's guards had opened fire from the roof ofthe building, and one of the choppers crashed. The sound of atleast two explosions rocked the small northwestern town ofAbbottabad, where the al-Qaida chief made his last stand. The White House said Obama convened at least nine meetings withtop national security officials in the lead-up to Sunday's raid. VIDEO: President Obama announces Osama bin Laden's deathText of President Barack Obama's announcement

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