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Al Qaeda chief's death sparks celebration in US

Al Qaeda chief's death sparks celebration in US

May 02, 2011 - 12:58

WASHINGTON (PANinfo-icon): Following a 40-minute operation that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistaninfo-icon, there was an instant celebration in outside the White House and in New York where the twin-tower terrorist strike happened 10 years ago.

Pakistan was not kept in the dark about the operation, after which President Barack Obama called his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari on the successful mission by American Special Forces.

"We are very concerned that he (bin Laden) was inside Pakistan, but this is something that we're going to continue to work with the Pakistani government on," a senior administration official said.

Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri would have difficulties in maintaining the loyalty of Osama bin Laden's followers, one US official said.

"As the only Al Qaeda leader whose authority was universally respected, bin Laden also maintained his cohesion, and his likely successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is far less charismatic and not as well respected within the organisation," captured militants were quoted as saying. 

Osama's body was "buried at sea" and handled according to Islamic tradition, US officials said, but did not give details.They added the Al Qaeda was shot in his head and he resisted the firefight.

He lived in a palatial mansion in the affluent town, with lots of retired military officials in its vicinity. The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. 

It is roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. When the compound was built in 2005, it was on the outskirts of the town centre, at the end of a narrow dirt road. 

In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby. The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary. It has 12 to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. 

Internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out for collection. 

The main structure, a three-story building, has few windows facing the outside of the compound. A terrace on the third floor has a seven-foot privacy wall. The property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it, one US official estimated. 

The brothers had no explainable source of wealth, officials said, adding that as a result, intelligence analysts concluded that this compound was custom-built to hide someone of significance. 

According to sources, a small US team conducted a helicopter raid on the compound early Sunday morning.  "This operation was a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimise collateral damage and to pose as little risk as possible to non-combatants on the compound or to Pakistani civilians in the neighborhood," they said.

There were several womeninfo-icon and children at the compound.  One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant.  Two other women were injured.

 During the raid, one helicopter was lost due to mechanical failure. The aircraft was destroyed by the crew and the assault force and crew members boarded the remaining aircraft to exit the compound. 



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