Full disclosure: Final details on the attack
According to US officials and media reports, here is how the operation unfolded:
- nder cover of night, several helicopters ferry 79 commandos towards Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, flying low to avoid detection by radar, as Pakistan has not been told of the raid in advance.
- Two helicopters deliver more than 20 US Navy SEALs to the residence, which has 12-18 foot (four-to-six meter) walls covered with barbed wire. One of the choppers, a MH-60 Blackhawk apparently modified to evade radar, is out of commission due to "mechanical failure," according to initial reports from US officials.
- One group of commandos moves toward a smaller guest house next to the compound's main building. Bin Laden's trusted courier opens fire and is shot and killed, along with his wife.
The courier is the only man at the compound who fires on the Americans, contrary to earlier accounts from the White House that described a firefight throughout the nearly 40-minute operation.
- Another US special forces team enters the main three-story house. They encounter the courier's brother, who has one hand behind his back, causing the SEALs to suspect he may have a gun, which turns out not to be the case, according to NBC news. He is shot and killed.
- The commandos move up the stairs and meet up with bin Laden's adult son, Khalid, who is killed after he lunges at the Americans, according to the New York Times.
- On the top floor, they find bin Laden and his wife in the bedroom. She reportedly tries to move between her husband and the commandos, and is shot in the leg. bin Laden, who gives no signal of surrender, is shot in the head, and some media say he is also struck in the chest.
Earlier versions of the raid said bin Laden "resisted" and that he had used his wife as a human shield, but the White House later acknowledges those details are incorrect.
- President Barack Obama, following events from the White House, is told the SEALs have tentatively identified bin Laden. A Time magazine report, based on an interview with CIA Director Leon Panetta, suggests bin Laden was killed less than 25 minutes into the raid.
- In bin Laden's room, the US team finds an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9 mm Russian pistol. Other weapons are discovered in the compound.
- The special forces find cash and telephone numbers sown into Bin Laden's clothing, suggesting he was prepared for a quick escape.
- In an intelligence coup, the Navy SEALs haul away five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 storage devices, which will be scoured for leads on possible plots, financing and the location of Al-Qaeda deputies.
- The US team destroys the downed helicopter, after moving women and children in the compound to a safe area.
- About 38 minutes after the start of the raid, the US helicopters fly away, carrying the corpse of the man the United States has hunted for years.
- At 0335 GMT on Monday, Obama announces on television that bin Laden has been killed.
- Bin Laden's body is taken to the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier off the coast of Pakistan. At about 0600 GMT, after Islamic religious rites are administered, bin Laden's body is eased into the Arabian Sea.
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