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Last Day Of The World’s Extremist Head: Osama Bin Laden

Once the proud prince of Islamic Jihad, Osama was watching his own flickering image on cheap television during his last days. He was found after a decade-long CIA research by US special operation force, in a daring, secret raid that almost went wrong. Peter Bergen, is one of a handful of western journalists who once met the terrorist mastermind. “He looks like a guy who lives in a cave or living in a city”, Peter says. “I thought Bin Laden would be found in a sophisticated compound in the Pakistani tribal area, instead he was discovered only 56 kilometers north of the capital city Islamabad”, he added. Spending his last days celebrating 9/11 anniversary, he was planning for Christmas day strikes on US transportation, the assassination of President Obama and US Army Chief, General David Petraeus.

He was born in  1957 in a wealthy family. No one would have known that after such a privileged upbringing, he would become the firebrand of Islamic Jihad. At age 22 he joined hands with Afghanistan Muhajudeen to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Bin Laden considered it as a holy war, a struggle to repel infidel forces. By the end of the war, he had cultivated the image of a fearsome military commander. This relationship he forged with the Muhajudeen became the basis of Al Qaeda.

In May 1997, Peter interviewed Osama in Tora Bora Mountain ranges. In that interview, Osama declared war against the United States to the western audience for the first time. In the next four years, Laden’s words become actions. With his guidance and funding, Al Qaeda operatives attacked the US embassy in Africa, USS Cole in Yemen and on September 11, 2001, the Pentagon in Washington and World Trade Centre in New York. One month after the incidence, rigorous counter attack by Afghani troops with US army started. Overwhelmed by the attacks Bin Laden asked his militants to surrender or run away. He himself escaped and resided in the mountain ranges of Tora Bora. He coordinated attacks at London, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq from those mountains.

For years CIA analysts pursued every lead to Bin Laden but came up empty. Till 2007 nothing much was heard about Laden. “They started to pursue Bin Laden through the courier network. We knew he was communicating, but we also knew that he wasn’t communicating electronically”, Hayden says. So it had to be the courier. And then the name came upfront from the most trusted courier ‘Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti’. It took three long years to trace him. The agents from Pakistan military intelligence service, the ISI provided the crucial lead. In 2010 during the routine intercepts of Al Qaeda’s telephone chatter emanating from Pakistan, a man calling Al Kuwaiti was heard. He made a call to the Gulf, asking for money. The phone number was traced by satellite, thus locating a white van roaming near Abbottabad. The van was seen entering the proclaimed residence of Laden. CIA became suspicious for the first time. John Brennan, Chief Counterterrorism Advisor said that it was a combination of human sources, technical sources, and just good old-fashioned analysis. The NSA sent spy satellite and intelligence drones to capture images and to eavesdrop on the compound. But nothing came out of it, as images from the top didn’t reveal the identities of any individual.

In December 2010, four months after the courier had been tracked to the compound of Abbottabad, CIA director Leon Panetta met the President. He told President Obama that they need to act, before Laden and his network escape. The President asked about the probability of the presence of Bin Laden in that compound. Panetta answered 60%, but it was all circumstantial evidence.  Despite the lack of adequate proof, President ordered to forge ahead and plan to kill or capture Bin Laden.

After further investigation, the team discovered that Osama’s wives travel with a cell phone and that was easy to trace. On April 28, 2011, President assembled what’s known as ‘Red Team’. Obama gave time ultimatum for 48 hours to finally trace and shoot Osama. 22 American troops started their training exercise for the raid. The army personnel was very happy and excited, after all, they had struggled for years for the same. A meeting was held at White House early in the morning on April 30, along with President, Army Chief and CIA had to discuss the issue. President Obama finally showed green flag to the Army General.

The Distance between US Army camp and Abbottabad was approximately 256 kilometers. The Chopper had to travel in and out of the valley, 0-2- feet above the terrain. It was 2nd May 2017, a moonless night. So the coverage was perfect for the two black hawks. There were 23 naval seals, an interpreter and a tracking dog Cairo in the Black Hawks. The Hawks were equipped with sealing technology. One of the Hawk just reaching to the terrace of the compound lost its balance and crashed.

The entire American strategists were watching it live, filled with anxiety from the President’s room. But all the soldiers came out of it safely, which was a sign of relief for the President. Troops easily adapted to the ground and started blowing their way in with explosives. The sound resonated and woke up everyone in the compound and their neighbors. The operation was named Neptune Spears.

The army personnel saw Kuwaiti running back to warn his wife and children. He emerged with a weapon in hand and started firing. The seals in reciprocated and shot him dead. Another group of seals encountered the Kuwaiti’s brother Abrar and his wife in the doorway of the main building. The seals killed both of them. The seals entered the main building and made their way upstairs. The stairs had some barriers, so they started firing through the barriers.

On the second floor, the seals encountered Osama’s son. The seals continued up the stairs carefully navigating the surrounding chaos. There were a small group of children and female, on every floor of the building. On reaching the third floor, they saw Bin Laden at the end of halfway. Bin Laden slams the door and runs, seals follow him to confirm his identity. The seals thought that Laden ran for his weapon. Three seals make their way to halfway, into Laden’s bedroom. Seals shot one bullet into Laden’s chest and another on his head. There was the scene of Bin Laden blood-drenched body captured hours after killing. Over the feed, in the situation room, the voice of one of the seals said ‘For God and country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo’.