Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (Arabic: أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن, Usāmah bin Muḥammad bin ‘Awaḍ bin Lādin; (born March 10, 1957 - died May 2, 2011.), commonly known as Osama bin Laden (Arabic: أسامة بن لادن), was a Jihadist Sunni Muslim, and the leader of al Qaeda, a worldwide Jihadist terrorist group responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, terrorist attacks on Americans in the 1990s, and other attacks on innocent civilians in Europe, Asia, and Africa. He was executed by a covert operation ordered by President Barack Obama on May 2, 2011.
Bin Laden was an Arab from a Yemeni family that made a fortune in construction in Saudi Arabia. His family disowned bin Laden in 1994 and the Saudi Arabian government revoked both his passport and citizenship. He went to Afghanistan with his network of Arab allies to fight against the Soviets in the Soviet-Afghan War. He was never aided or funded by the U.S. or the CIA.
Terrorism and al Qaeda
In bin Laden's declarations and writings, he asserts that American attacks against Muslims justify reciprocation by Muslims, including the killing of innocents as a part of militaristic jihad. He refers to Islamic states headed by individuals friendly to the United States as usurper states which are disloyal to Islam.
Bin Laden and his followers were based in war-torn Sudan for most of the 1990s at the invitation of Hassan al-Turabi, a powerful Sudanese political leader and terrorism supporter. In the late 1990s bin Laden issued two fatahs (declarations of holy war) against the United States for the basing of troops in the Arabian Peninsula to defend against external aggression by Saddam Hussein and because of the suffering of the Iraqi people under UN economic sanctions.
In 1998, bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, then leader of the Egyptian terrorist group called the Islamic Brotherhood, announced the joining of al Qaeda and the Islamic Brotherhood to form the World Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. In 1998, the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were destroyed by suicide bombers; the United States later indicted both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri for the attacks which killed 224 people. In retaliation the United States launched cruise missiles, however, both terrorist leaders escaped. They then fled to Afghanistan, where al Qaeda set up camps that were protected by the Taliban government. When the Taliban refused to turn al Qaeda terrorists over to justice, NATO invaded and liberated Afghanistan in Oct. 2001. He was almost captured but escaped to Pakistan, where local warlords continued to harbor him. Occasionally he released a recording giving new threats.
In the 1990s, bin Laden also gave funding to Chechen terrorists fighting against Russia. These terrorists were later responsible for the Beslan school siege of 2004. Chechens also fought in Afghanistan against U.S. forces on behalf of the Taliban. Bin Laden was cited by the United States government as the most wanted terrorist.
- Main article: Abbottabad raid
"In the room with Bin Laden, a woman, Bin Laden's wife, rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed." CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview on PBS television Tuesday that he did not believe Bin Laden had a chance to speak before he was shot in the face and killed. "To be frank, I don't think he had a lot of time to say anything," Panetta said. 
which was disputed by Safia, bin Laden's 13 year old daughter who witnessed the events.
Safia bin Laden, one of the terrorist leader's daughters, allegedly told Pakistani interrogators that a special team of U.S. military personnel captured her father alive. She added that he was initially taken alive but executed at point-blank range on the ground floor of his compound, London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reports. 
Initial White House reports also stated that one of his wives who was captured in the raid identified the body as well. Three men besides Bin Laden and a woman were killed. Osama was later buried at sea in the Arabian Sea, less than a day after his death; a burial at sea leaves no marked grave (no definitive location). Several pundits have pointed out that this would prevent Islamic extremists from creating a shrine of his grave site.
President Obama was the first senior U.S. official to disclose the operation announcing, "After a firefight, they killed Usama bin Laden and took custody of his body." In a conference call with reporters less than twenty minutes later, a trio of “senior administration officials” were asked if bin Laden was "involved in firing [a weapon] himself or defending himself," one of the briefers replied: "He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight." Elsewhere in the conference National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor stated: “As the President said this evening, bin Laden was killed in a firefight as our operators came onto the compound.” One of the briefers added “One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant.”
Monday morning Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell convened a briefing featuring “senior Defense officials” and “senior intelligence officials.” One of the senior Pentagon officers said, “The American team engaged in a firefight, and as indicated last night, Usama bin Laden did resist.” The same official elaborated on the statement about a woman having been killed. The number involved had at least tripled, from solely bin Laden to “[bin Laden] and some other male combatants” and “appeared to use…women as shields” to “certainly did use women as shields.” One of the intelligence briefers said, “[bin Laden] died during a firefight.” A Pentagon official volunteered that “two women were wounded” in addition to the one killed. Finally, a Department of Defense briefer provided the first estimate of how long the gunfire lasted. “[T]hrough most of the 40 minutes during which U.S. special operators were on the compound,” he said, “they were engaged in a firefight.”
Two hours later, the president’s Assistant for Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism, John Brennan, joined White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. Brennan described how he, Obama, and the rest of the national security team had kept tabs on the action. “We were able to monitor the situation in real time and were able to have regular updates and to ensure that we had real-time visibility into the progress of the operation,” Brennan said. “I'm not going to go into details about what type of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there, but it was -- it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis.” The Al Qaeda chief, he said, “was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house,” and “was killed in that firefight.” Brennan also added the late terrorist was “hiding behind women who were put in front of him as shields” – evidence, to the White House’s eyes, of “how false [bin Laden’s] narrative has been over the years.”
White House misinformation
The storyline came under attack the next day. “So Brennan in his briefing yesterday made a couple of, I guess, misstatements – or statements that later appeared to be somewhat incorrect,” began the first question at Carney’s televised press briefing. The reporter listed as false both the idea that bin Laden’s wife had been used as a shield – that anyone at all had been used as a shield – and also that bin Laden had been armed, and a participant in the firefight. “Are you guys in a fog of war in this,” Carney was asked, “or what gives?”
Carney admitted that key parts of of the administrations story had been wrong.
“[W]hat is true is that we provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you and, through you, the American public about the operation and how it transpired…And obviously some of the information was -- came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on.” Then Carney retreated to a prepared statement, drafted by officials at the Department of Defense, beyond which he would spend the rest of the briefing refusing to stray. “I have a narrative that I can provide to you on the raid itself,” he said. (Precisely because it emerged in such tangled form, the record of the bin Laden killing is replete with uses, by both officials and reporters alike, of the word “narrative.”)
What followed was an account of the mission, 349 words long (including Carney’s momentary stumbles), that comprised the most extensive chronicle of the raid Abbottabad which contained the crucial new detail: bin Laden was “not armed.”
“[I]f he didn’t have his hand on a gun, how was he resisting?” asked one member of the press corps. “I think resistance does not require a firearm,” Carney shot back. “But the information I gave you is what I can tell you about it. I’m sure more details will be provided as they come available.” Carney clung to the notion that the “volatile” firefight, which he said had comprised “a great deal of resistance,” had persisted “throughout the operation.” Reporters bore in on the discrepancies in “the narrative.” Carney told reporters, “Even I’m getting confused.” “Bin Laden’s wife was unarmed as well?” a reporter asked. “That is my understanding,” Carney replied. The Department of Defense account had not mentioned whether Mrs. Bin Laden was armed or not. Was anyone else in the room with bin Laden and his wife? “I don’t know that,” Carney admitted.
“In the narrative,” a reporter continued, “which of those women was being used a human shield, as Mr. Brennan suggested yesterday?” Here, at last, Carney acknowledged the haziness of “the narrative.” “[W]hat I would say about that is…to use your phrase, fog of war, fog of combat,” Carney said. “[T]here was a lot of information coming in. It is still unclear. The woman I believe you’re talking about might have been the one on the first floor who was caught in the crossfire [and killed]. Whether or not she was being used as a shield or trying to use herself as a shield or simply caught in crossfire is unclear. And we’re working on getting the details that we can.”
President Obama had earlier addressed a bipartisan dinner with congressional leaders in the East Room on Monday evening and spoke of "the capture and death" of bin Laden. The president let slip the fact that bin Laden had been subjected not only to death but also to “capture.” One of bin Laden’s daughters, Safia, breathed further life into this notion when she told Al-Arabiya that U.S. forces had indeed captured her father, and shot him dead within the first few minutes of the raid. CIA officials soon waved reporters off the claim, dismissing Obama’s remark to the lawmakers as a simple misstatement.
On May 4, 2011, Obama announced that the post-mortem photographs of bin Laden would not be released. One of the reasons for this was to protect American troops still stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan from possible riots that might be incited by Muslims after they saw the pictures. According to CNN, the most recognizable photo of Bin Laden was taken in a hangar after the operation was complete. However, there is a massive open head wound across both eyes, and it is considered gruesome and mangled enough that it would not be appropriate to print on the front page of a newspaper.
Republican senator and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Republican senator and member of the armed services committee Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire claimed to have seen the post-mortem photographs of bin Laden, however the photos they viewed were actually fake.
Reactions to raid
In the US, news of Bin Laden's death was generally met with a mixture of relief and joy, ranging from spontaneous public gatherings to celebrate the news, to more sober reactions by victims of the September 11 attacks.Some have withheld judgment on whether or not they believe Osama was killed, including one mother of a 9/11 victim.
But for Stella Olender of Chicago, her questions aren’t politically-motivated conspiracy theories, but rather the still-fresh wounds of losing a daughter, 39-year-old Christine, who died at the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attacks. “Is it true or false? I don’t know,” Olender said in a phone interview while working at her tailoring and cleaning business in the city’s Hanson Park neighborhood. Olender said she’s particularly concerned because U.S. officials have said bin Laden’s body was buried at sea but haven’t offered any photographic proof that he was killed.“To me, that seems strange, that they disposed of it and no one (besides) whoever was right there knows what happened, if it’s true or false, you know?” Olender said. 
About the compound in Abbottabad where Osama was killed, a neighboring resident said,
“That house is in an army area. What kind of standards does the Pakistan army have — they’re fools? If you think they’re fools, okay, Osama’s here,” said ur-Rehman. He said that he and others in the area have concluded that bin Laden was not there and that the United States staged a “drama.” 
Presidential approval polls
Two weeks after bin Laden was killed about half of President Obama’s approval rating bounce has disappeared. The Gallup poll put his job-approval rating at 48 percent, higher than the 43-to-44 percent weekly averages he had before the Abbottobad raid but lower than the 51 percent he scored in the week immediately after. Pollsters Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart noted “bin Laden’s death was not the game-changer some predicted it would be. The killing of bin Laden resulted in a small approval bump for the president but had little (if any) impact on his chances of being reelected." They also noted “There is no telling the impact of the White House messing up the narrative.” Pollster Charlie Cook observed news organizations focused on the actual story, rather than "the administration’s preferred message."
- Osama bin Laden Dead or Alive? by David Ray Griffin.
- Bin Laden's sea burial fuels conspiracy theories.
- Randal, Jonathan. Osama: The Making of a Terrorist (2004). 339 pp.
- bin Laden's Declaration of War, 1998.
- Obama: I won't release bin Laden death photos CBS News, 05/04/2011
- Even more details on the OBL photos CNN, 05/03/2011
- Fake out: Senators confused over bin Laden photos MSNBC, 05/04/2011