Osama Bin Laden dead

President Barack Obama announced minutes ago that Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda movement, is dead following a “targeted” U.S. operation in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan. Speaking on national television late Sunday night, Obama said that shortly after taking office, he had instructed the CIA to make capturing Bin Laden a top priority. He was briefed on a possible lead to Bin Laden last August, and last week he decided that the U.S. had “enough intelligence to take action.” Today Obama authorized a “targeted operation,” in which Bin Laden was killed in a firefight. The U.S. has custody of his body, according to the president, and there were no American casualties. Obama emphasized that the U.S. is not at war with Islam, saying Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader and was a “mass murderer” of Muslims. Obama credited Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts with helping locate Bin Laden and said he had contacted Pakistani leaders, who agreed that the death of Bin Laden is good for both countries.

I will update this post as more news and Iowa reaction become available. Official statements from Representatives Leonard Boswell (IA-03) and Bruce Braley (IA-01) are after the jump. Former President George W. Bush issued a statement congratulating Obama and the members of the U.S. intelligence community who made today’s events possible.

Meanwhile, use this thread to discuss the political implications of Bin Laden’s death. Al Qaeda isn’t going to disappear overnight, nor is the U.S. likely to end its military presence in Afghanistan sooner. I don’t know enough about U.S.-Pakistani relations to have a sense of the likely impact.

The UK newspaper Daily Mail published an article yesterday on how Bin Laden escaped elite British and American troops near Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in December 2001.

Comments about other U.S. military interventions are also welcome in this thread. Yesterday in Tripoli, a NATO air strike killed the youngest son and three grandchildren of Col. Moammar Qaddafi. The Libyan leader and his wife were reportedly not harmed. Some GOP senators have said regime change should become the explicit U.S. policy goal in Libya.

UPDATE: Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released a statement congratulating “our intelligence community, our military and the president.”

SECOND UPDATE: Representative Tom Latham (IA-04) via Twitter: “On this night of historic news may God bless the victims of 9/11 and may God continue to bless the United States and freedom’s cause.” Kind of a strange tweet from Senator Chuck Grassley: “Pres bush was right when he said there aren’t enuf caves for Osama bin Laden to hide. That we wld get him. We got him”

THIRD UPDATE: The State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert for American citizens due “to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given counterterrorism activity in Pakistan.”

FOURTH UPDATE: An administration official briefing journalists after Obama’s speech said the U.S. did not inform Pakistani authorities about this mission in advance. Official says four people were killed in raid in addition to Bin Laden: one of Bin Laden’s sons, two other male associates and a woman who allegedly was being used as a shield. The large compound where Bin Laden was found was reportedly built about five years ago, but U.S. officials do not know how long Bin Laden had been living there.

FIFTH UPDATE: Added Representative Dave Loebsack’s (IA-02) statement after the jump.

MONDAY UPDATE: The large compound where Bin Laden was reportedly killed is very close to a Pakistani military academy, raising “suspicions that Pakistan has played a double game, and perhaps even knowingly harbored the Qaeda leader.”

U.S. officials said they buried Bin Laden at sea last night in accordance with Islamic law, after flying his body to Afghanistan to confirm his identity. Burial at sea will prevent any gravesite from becoming a shrine for the Al Qaeda leader’s followers, but the quick disposal of the body may prompt questions about whether he is really dead.

Marc Ambinder reports on “The Secret Team That Killed bin Laden.”

After the jump I’ve added Latham’s full statement, comments from Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and a interesting stream of comments from an Abbottabad resident who started tweeting after hearing a helicopter at 1 am Sunday (“a rare event”). Still no statements released by Senators Tom Harkin or Chuck Grassley or Representative Steve King (IA-05).

FINAL UPDATE: I never did find a press release from Steve King regarding Bin Laden’s reported death, but he seems to have given most of the credit to U.S. policies sanctioning torture of terror suspects. On May 2, King posted these two Twitter updates:

Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?

ObL “Sealed” into eternal damnation. Intel from KSM in Gitmo:-) “It feels like the entire country won the World Series,” Bill Hemmer-FOX.

I don’t know why King would be quick to assume torture led to Bin Laden’s capture. Interrogating Khalid Sheikh Mohammed didn’t stop the trail for Bin Laden from growing cold. If this New York Times article “Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden” is accurate, Pakistani agents working for the CIA produced the key lead in the search for the Al Qaeda leader last summer.

Statement from Representative Bruce Braley, May 1:

“Today the world is a safer place. Tonight’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces is good news for all Americans. Nearly ten years after his cowardly attacks on innocent Americans and citizens of the world, and on the eighth anniversary of declaring “Mission Accomplished,” we can finally close a tragic chapter in our nation’s history. Our troops have made tremendous sacrifices, with many lives lost and many changed forever, and we must never forget the real cost of this war on terror.”

Statement from Representative Leonard Boswell, May 1:

“After hearing the news of Osama bin Laden’s death tonight, I immediately thought of our men and women in uniform who have bravely fought al Qaeda forces in the pursuit of the man responsible for attacking our nation on September 11, 2001,” said Congressman Leonard Boswell, who recently returned from a congressional trip to Afghanistan. “President Obama and our military leaders should be commended for their steadfast commitment to pursuing Osama bin Laden and his followers. I look forward to joining Iowa’s military families in welcoming our brave troops as they return home.”

Statement from Representative Dave Loebsack, May 2:

“Tonight’s announcement is a testament to the men and women of our armed forces’ and intelligence community’s commitment to tracking down the man responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Americans.  Tonight stands as a profound chapter in our nation’s fight against those who work every day to do harm to the American people.  Even as we mark this day, however, we must remain vigilant – the threat against the American people remains and there are those who may seek revenge. The safety of our nation is paramount. Having just travelled to Islamabad to discuss critical counter-terrorism issues, and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work to ensure the security of our nation.”

Statement from Representative Tom Latham:

“The reign of a ruthless killer has been brought to an end.  The death of Osama bin Laden is welcome news for America and her allies around the globe.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the military and intelligence officials who carried out this operation.  This is a critical victory for the cause of freedom and liberty.  God bless the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and God bless the United States of America.”

Comments from Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds at a Monday morning press conference:

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds described the death of Osama bin Laden as bringing about “a great day” for America.

“I am just so happy that justice has been served for the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their life in 9/11,” Reynolds said. […]

“It really is heartwarming this morning as I saw the patriotism all across this nation where individuals gathered on the street to say ‘USA, USA’ or to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the Star Spangled Banner,” Reynolds said. “I’m very proud of our president and the CIA and for the men and women on the line fighting for our freedoms and especially the nearly 2,800 National Guard men and women who are serving our state overseas.”

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

RT @ISuckBigTime: Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.: ISI has confirmed it << Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet. sigh

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@kursed I think I should take out my big blower to blow the fog of war away and see the clearer picture.

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@kursed Well, there were at least two copters last night, I heard one but a friend heard two, for 15-20 minutes.

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Report from a sweeper: A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for.

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@kursed True, but stranger things have happened. I just hope they don’t find my giant helicopter swatter. Must hide it :-/

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@ahmedbilal @kursed Sadly. We should start learning how to spread believable stories and recreate a reality that suits us.

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@kursed Another rumor: two copters that followed the crashed one were foreign Cobras – and got away

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@kursed What really happened doesn’t matter if there is an official story behind it that 99.999% of the world would believe

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding

11 hours ago

naqvi Munzir Naqvi

by ReallyVirtual

I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected.

11 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today

11 hours ago

ibi2010 Ibrar Ali

by ReallyVirtual

1 dead and 1 injured in Abbottabad for heli crashed

15 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@raihak The day there is uninterrupted electricity in Lahore for a whole month, I will start packing my bags, until then, Abbottabad is home

15 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad…

15 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/

16 hours ago

terminalxpk Terminal X

by ReallyVirtual

The Major also says no “missiles” were fired and all such exaggerated reports are nothing but rumours #Pakistan

16 hours ago

terminalxpk Terminal X

by ReallyVirtual

A Major of the #Pakistan #Army’s 19 FF, Platoon CO says incident at #Abbottabad where #helicopter crashed is accidental and not an “attack”

16 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Two helicpoters, one down, could actually be the training accident scenario they’re saying it was >> http://bit.ly/ioGE6O

16 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Here’s the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>> http://on.fb.me/khjf34

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@smedica ‘safer’ is a relative term that has lost its meaning in Pakistan

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@smedica I live near Jalal Baba Auditorium

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@smedica It must have been more, I started noticing the helicpoter when the noise got irritating – which part of Abbottabd are you in?

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

@tahirakram very likely – but it was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was.

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@smedica people are saying it was not a technical fault and it was shot down. I heard it CIRCLE 3-4 times above, sounded purposeful.

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@wqs figures, if they have the right to shoot planes flying over the president house, the must have the same instructions for PMA

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there’s report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone.

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@tahirakram they’re not saying anything

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@kashaziz technically, it is unidentified until identified, and it is a flying object, so year, why the hell not, we have seen weirder stuff

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@tahirakram yea. hides his giant swatter

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@raihak yep, the mad power cuts have reached abbottabad – 14 hours daily – luckily I have a generator AND a UPS at the coffee shop

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicpoters, and since they’re saying it was not “ours”, so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@raihak Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the ‘being safe’ strategy

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@raihak I try, man, I try

17 hours ago

han3yy Hania Ahmed

by ReallyVirtual

OMG :S Bomb Blasts in Abbottabad.. I hope everyone is fine 🙁

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani…

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@m0hcin http://bit.ly/ljB6p6 seems like my giant swatter worked !

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

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@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too… the helicopter is gone too.

17 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S

18 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/

18 hours ago

ReallyVirtual Sohaib Athar

Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).

18 hours ago

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