In addition to resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. raid conducted by Navy SEALs also collected computer equipment and sensitive details that could be used to thwart al Qaeda, U.S. officials tell CNN.
Also tonight on AC360°, new details about the special forces operation ordered by the White House and how the administration confirmed that bin Laden had, in fact, been killed.
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(CNN) – Tonight on AC360°, we’ll have two hours of special live coverage about the U.S. military operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
Anderson Cooper will be joined by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, New York Times columnist and Middle East expert Thomas Friedman, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, and CNN anchor and Time Magazine columnist Fareed Zakaria. In addition, former CIA officers Michael Scheuer and Gary Berntsen, both of whom previously helped in the spy agency’s hunt for bin Laden, will be on the program along with author and former CIA officer Robert Baer.
The two hours of live coverage will feature new details about the secret mission that killed bin Laden and details about the U.S. Navy SEALs who carried out the mission.
Tune in beginning at 10pm ET on CNN.
(CNN) - It took mere hours to confirm that the person killed in a compound near Pakistan's capital was Osama bin Laden.
How did officials know that the man who was shot in the head Sunday was really the world's most wanted terrorist?
DNA, among other things, senior officials told CNN.
Officials compared the DNA of the person killed at the Abbottabad compound with the bin Laden "family DNA" to determine that the 9/11 mastermind had in fact been killed, a senior administration official said.
It was not clear how many different family members' samples were compared or whose DNA was used.
During a press briefing Monday afternoon, John Brennan, President Barack Obama's adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism said they had "preliminary DNA intelligence" ahead of the strike.
Among the five killed in the compound, one of them was one of bin Laden's adult sons, officials said.
Also to identify bin Laden, a visual ID was made. There were photo comparisons and other facial recognition used to identify him, the official said. A second official said that in addition to DNA, there was full biometric analysis of facial and body features.
Dr. Victor Weedn, a forensic pathologist who helped pioneer the military's DNA identification program,said it's likely that the military would have samples for high-profile terrorists like bin Laden.FULL STORY
(CNN) - In the dark of night, U.S. helicopters approached a high-walled compound in Pakistan on a mission to capture or kill one of the world's most notorious terrorist leaders.
Less than 40 minutes later - early Monday morning in Pakistan - Osama bin Laden was dead, along with four others inside the complex, and the U.S. forces departed with the slain al Qaeda leader's body to fulfill a vow that originated shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
And as he announced the raid at the White House Sunday night, U.S. President Barack Obama called bin Laden's death "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda."
Obama, top officials watch raid unfold in real time
One senior administration official called the investigation a "team effort" and a "model of really seamless cooperation" across agencies.
This official and others briefed reporters on further details about the assault on the compound, which they believe was built five years ago for the specific purpose of hiding bin Laden - known by the code name "Geronimo," a U.S. official said.
The compound is in Abbottabad, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The city sits in a mountainous region that is not heavily populated. Many of the residents are army personnel.
While senior administration officials would not offer a breakdown of the U.S. mission's composition, a senior defense official said U.S. Navy SEALs were involved.
After years of intelligence work and months of following a specific lead, they traced a courier linked to bin Laden to the compound in Abbottabad, the officials said.FULL STORY
Reporter's Note: The news to start this week is huge: Osama bin Laden has been killed.
Dear Mr. President,
I was writing an entirely different letter to you about the big correspondents’ dinner and my latest marathon (Excellent run up in Gettysburg…lovely town and wonderful race. Congrats to them!) but now comes the word of Osama bin Laden’s death.
This is obviously a very long awaited event, and I’m sure we’ll hear all sorts of details over the next few days. It will certainly bring some satisfaction for some of the people who lost family and friends on 9/11, and frankly a lot of our fellow Americans everywhere will be happy.
And yet, here is something we must bear in mind: While it is symbolically important that we finally caught up with him, this doesn’t really change things in a practical sense. Yes, it is a blow to al Qaeda and to terrorist organizations in general, but what has made these groups so dangerous and difficult to battle, is that fact that they do not follow the lead of one man nor depend on a top down command structure.
(CNN) - The hijacked jet planes that roared out of a clear blue sky one sunny September morning 10 years ago killed nearly 3,000 people, but the hurt they did spread far beyond the immediate death and destruction at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The damage was mental, psychological, even spiritual.
And the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. special operations forces may help to start some healing, said Christian and Muslim religious leaders, relatives of victims, and a generation who grew in the shadow of 9/11.
"There is a sense that justice has been done," said Joel Hunter, senior pastor of the 12,000-member Northland Church in Orlando, Florida, and a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama.
"There is a scripture, Genesis 9:6, that says, 'He who sheds man's blood, by man his blood be shed.' There is a certain kind of sense of relief that that has been accomplished," Hunter said.
"This man was symbolic of much that threatened our country and our way of life," the pastor said.
Hunter also cited the verse promising that "those who mourn will be comforted," saying they might "find some sort of solace in this event."
Those verses are much more relevant than Jesus' admonition to "turn the other cheek," he said.
"That particular scripture has to do with insult and not with self-defense," he said.
The terror attacks that bin Laden authorized are "not even in the category of forgiveness," so killing him "really is in a category that, for 99.9% of Americans, would be beyond question ... the right thing."
Diana Massaroli, whose husband died in the World Trade Center, certainly has no questions about it.
Michael Massaroli, 38, was working for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of the North Tower on September 11, 2001, when a jet plane slammed into the floors beneath him.
His body was never found.
His son was 6 years old at the time.
His widow has been grieving ever since. But early Monday, at ground zero where the towers once stood, she said she was finally experiencing some catharsis.FULL STORY
(CNN) - Osama bin Laden's death marked the end of an era for U.S. investigators, who searched remote villages and mountain caves in a far-reaching manhunt for the al Qaeda leader.
Their search, which lasted more than a decade, ended early Monday in Pakistan (Sunday night in the U.S.), when a small U.S. team raided a heavily guarded hideout in Pakistan and killed him.
The key break in the case came in August, when senior Obama administration officials say U.S. intelligence homed in on a $1 million compound in an affluent area north of Islamabad where one of bin Laden's couriers lived.
But the trail that eventually led the United States to bin Laden began years ago, the officials said.
After years of thwarted searches and dead ends, finding the elusive bin Laden had become "America's most vexing intelligence problem," one senior Obama administration official told reporters in a background briefing in Washington early Monday.
A new lead emerged when post-9/11 detainees gave investigators a glimpse into the al Qaeda chief's inner circle, the official said. During questioning, detainees repeatedly mentioned the nickname of a man they said was one of the few couriers bin Laden trusted.
That was the beginning of what President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser described as a painstaking process.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Since becoming CNN's State Department producer in 2000, Elise Labott has covered four secretaries of state and reported from more than 50 countries. Before joining CNN, she covered the United Nations. Follow her on Twitter at @eliselabottcnn.
Washington (CNN) - The death of Osama bin Laden could prove to be a turning point in United States-Pakistani counterterrorism cooperation. But whether it is for better or for worse remains to be seen.
Ties between the two countries were at their lowest point in years before Sunday's attack on the compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding for close to a year.
Until recently, Pakistan offered tacit support for U.S. drone strikes in its tribal areas targeting al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. But the drone campaign, which was intensely unpopular among the Pakistani public, had increasingly become one of the main irritants in the relationship between the two countries.
Islamabad was still seething over a January incident in which CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistan men who he claimed were trying to rob him.
For its part, the U.S. has been frustrated over what it calls Pakistan's lukewarm action in going against extremists. Two weeks ago, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said while in Pakistan that links between elements of the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, and Taliban factions in Afghanistan that target U.S. troops were straining relations.
On bin Laden, President Obama said Pakistan helped provide intelligence that led the U.S. to the terrorist leader and praised Pakistan for its "close counterterrorism cooperation" but said no other country, including Pakistan, knew about the operation in advance.
Several Pakistani officials disputed Obama's account, claiming credit for what they called a joint U.S.-ISI operation.
A senior Pakistani intelligence official said the U.S. intelligence was developed from information that the Pakistanis had gathered: mostly electronic intercepts that the source said the Pakistanis regularly provide to the U.S.
"Somehow it slipped from our radar and was picked up on theirs," the official said.FULL STORY