Monthly Archives: May 2011
In addition to the vast majority of Americans who are relieved by his death, there are more than 1 billion Muslims around the world who salute the fact that bin Laden’s ungodly terrorist mischief has finally come to an end. Simply put, there has been no single person in nearly a millennium and a half of Muslim history who has ever hijacked our beloved religion of Islam more than bin Laden.
“We must also reaffirm that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam,” Obama said during his historic address Sunday. “I have made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
Muslims have been the greatest numerical casualties of al Qaeda and bin Laden. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point released a stunning report that said Muslims have accounted for the vast majority of the total number of casualties from al Qaeda attacks between 2004 and 2008 throughout the world.
During his famous June 2009 speech at Cairo University, Obama highlighted the common themes of humanity found within the three major Abrahamic religions. He said that “The holy Quran tells us, ‘O mankind! We have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’ …The Talmud tells us: ‘The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.’ ” Finally, he said, “The holy Bible tells us, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’ … The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.”
The death of bin Laden will not be the end of extremism around the world, but no reasonable observer could deny the fact that this mission represented the cutting off of the al Qaeda snake’s head.
Although there are certainly low-level franchisees who will try to continue to create havoc throughout the world, the importance of the killing of al Qaeda’s godfather on Obama’s watch cannot be emphasized enough.
The president was right: Bin Laden was not a leader of Muslims. Myself included, there were many among the 1 billion Muslims worldwide who uttered three simple words when we heard about the official confirmation of bin Laden’s death.
Those three words were: “God is great.”
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.
Reaction to the announcement that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed nearly 10 years after masterminding the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil was strong and swift from American political leaders:
A. Former President George W. Bush:
“A victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”
2.Former Vice President Dick Cheney:
“I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team. At this moment when bin Laden has been brought to justice, we especially remember the sacrifice of the young Americans who’ve paid the ultimate price in defense of the nation, as well as the nearly 3000 Americans who lost their lives on 9/11.”
3.Former President Bill Clinton:
“I congratulate the president, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al Qaeda attacks.”
4.New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
“The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation. … New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.”
5.Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano:
“The death of Osama bin Laden is an important success not only for the United States, but the entire world. Our efforts to combat terrorism, however, do not fixate on one individual, and we remain completely focused on protecting our nation against violent extremism of all kinds……I commend the President and offer my gratitude to the men and women who defend and protect our nation at home and abroad, whether they wear a military or law enforcement uniform or serve as one of thousands of unsung heroes in the intelligence and homeland security community.”
6.Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:
“Secretary Gates is enormously proud of everyone involved in making yesterday’s operation a success. It was an extraordinary achievement.”
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld:
“The man who once called the United States “a paper tiger” and issued a fatwa to “kill all Americans” believed that our nation would not strike back if provoked. Today that man, responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans on September 11th, Osama bin Laden, is dead……All of this was made possible by the relentless, sustained pressure on al Qaeda that the Bush administration initiated after 9/11 and that the Obama administration has wisely chosen to continue.”
7.CIA Director Leon Panetta:
“Nothing will ever compensate for the pain and suffering inflicted by this mass murderer and his henchmen. But just as evil never rests, neither does good. May the fact that Usama Bin Ladin no longer inhabits the earth be a source of comfort for the thousands of families, here in America and around the globe, who mourn the victims of al-Qa’ida’s barbarity……
Though Bin Ladin is dead, al-Qa’ida is not. The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must — and will — remain vigilant and resolute. But we have struck a heavy blow against the enemy. The only leader they have ever known, whose hateful vision gave rise to their atrocities, is no more. The supposedly uncatchable one has been caught and killed. And we will not rest until every last one of them has been delivered to justice.”
8.The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
“We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel. … Bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also reiterate President Obama’s clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam.”
9.U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:
“This is … a victory in our continued fight against al Qaeda and radical extremism around the world. We continue to face a complex and evolving terrorist threat, and it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada:
“This is the most significant victory in our fight against al Qaeda and terrorism, but that fight is not over … As we remember those who were killed on that dark day in September and their families, we also reaffirm our resolve to defeat the terrorist forces that killed them and thousands of others across the globe.”
10.Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper:
“It is with great pride and admiration that I offer thanks to all of the dedicated men and women of our community who worked so tirelessly in this achievement. I want to thank the President for his cool, decisive leadership. The Intelligence Community will never waver in our continued commitment to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.”
11.U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida:
“Finally. We cut off the head of the snake. It’s our intelligence that got him. The noose has been tightening because of our intelligence operations.”
12.U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts:
“(This) closes an important chapter in our war against extremists who kill innocent people around the world. We are a nation of peace and laws, and people everywhere should understand that our 10-year manhunt was in search of justice, not revenge.”
13.U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia:
“Justice has been done. The man with the blood of more than 3,000 (people) on his hands, the man who forced us to begin to think the unthinkable — is now dead. … While this is no doubt a major event in our battle against terrorism, we will not relent in our fight against terror and our efforts to keep America safe and secure.”
14.U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee:
“In 2001, President Bush said ‘we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.’ President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words. President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda.
15.Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
“Justice has been done and we are all indebted to the American military and intelligence community for their skill and dedication. Nothing can bring back bin Laden’s innocent victims, but perhaps this can help salve the wounds of their loved ones.”
16.Retired Gen. Colin Powell, former secretary of state
“Osama bin Laden is dead and buried at sea. Justice has been done. His death brings a sense of relief to the families of 911 and the families of all those brave America troops who have fought this war over the past ten years. I congratulate the intelligence community and the assaulting troops for this flawless operation. Osama bin Laden was just one man. The al-Qaeda threat remains and we must be vigilant and aggressive against them until they are totally destroyed.”
- 17.Former U.S. Secretary. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
“The news that Osama bin Laden is no more demonstrates the resolve of the intelligence and military community and the American community writ large. We did not forget, nor will we ever. May this news give some measure of comfort to those we lost on 9/11 and those we have lost since that day, who fought so bravely to answer brutality with justice.”
18. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, ranking Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee:
“The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done.”
19.U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee:
“(This) is a credit to our intelligence efforts and brings to justice the architect of the attacks on our country that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.”
20.U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
“The announcement that Usama bin Laden is dead is welcome news, and I congratulate the CIA for finding him and providing the information that led to his death. I also congratulate the U.S. military team who conducted this clean and precise operation.”
21.U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California:
“The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al Qaeda … It is a testament to the professionalism of our dedicated national security professionals that no American lives were lost in this operation … I hope that today’s action provides some comfort to the 9/11 families who lost loved ones in the devastating attacks on our shores.”
22.U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York:
“This is a thunderous strike for justice for the thousands of my fellow New Yorkers — and citizens from all over the world — who were murdered on 9/11. It took close to 10 years, but the world’s most wanted terrorist has finally met his deserved fate.”
23.Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-New York
“As we approach the 10th anniversary of that terrible day, this is also a solemn moment to reflect and remember. Nearly 3,000 men, women, and children died in New York City alone, due directly to orders issued by Osama Bin Laden. His death will help bring a measure of closure to our city and it represents the end of a chapter in a larger story still to be written.”
24.PAKPAC, a Pakistani-American advocacy group:
“(Bin Laden’s) death is a victory for the civilized world … Now with the Arab awakening, and democracy taking hold in the Middle East, PAKPAC is confident that al Qaeda and its ideology will be relegated to the dust bin of history.”
25.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo:
“New Yorkers endured bin Laden’s most devastating and destructive attack, and his death brings back the horrific images and emotions of that terrible day. However, his death also reminds us of our strength, courage, and unity as a people in our response to his actions.”
26.Former U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff:
“With the World Trade Center still smoldering, America promised to bring Osama bin Laden to justice or justice to him. Tonight’s announcement that bin Laden has been killed brings a tremendous amount of gratification and I hope, great comfort to those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.”
27.Possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee:
“It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama bin Laden is dead … Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless is tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens.”
28. Possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
“This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden’s many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.”
29.U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate:
“Tonight’s news does not bring back the lives of the thousands of innocent people who were killed that day by Osama bin Laden’s horrific plan, and it does not end the threat posed by terrorists, but it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”
30.Possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich:
“The world is a better place without Osama bin Laden, but his just demise cannot erase the loss and suffering of the families and friends of those who died on September 11 or died fighting in the war since September 11. So while we are celebrating this victory, we should take time to remember all who suffered and sacrificed and pray for them.”
31.Possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate Sarah Palin:
“Thank you, American men and women in uniform. You are America’s finest and we are so proud. Thank you for fighting against terrorism.”
32.Possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum:
“This is extraordinary news for all freedom loving people of the world, and I commend all those involved for this historic triumph. Americans have waited nearly ten years for the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. And while this is a very significant objective that cannot be minimized, the threat from Jihadism does not die with bin Laden.”
33.Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate:
“This is terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did. I want to congratulate America’s armed forces and President Obama for a job well done.”
34. Anti-Defamation League
“The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces in Pakistan strikes a critical blow against the Al Qaeda network and is a significant turning point in the war against global terrorism…… We extend our congratulations and appreciation to President Barack Obama and the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Services and intelligence community who engaged in a relentless pursuit of this mortal enemy of freedom and peace.”
“While we are collectively aware of today’s news, our company continues to remain focused on moving forward from that terrible day, while continuing to remember, think of, and pray for those who lost their lives, as well as for their loved ones who remain behind.”
35. American Airlines spokesperson Tim Smith:
“While we are collectively aware of today’s news, our company continues to remain focused on moving forward from that terrible day, while continuing to remember, think of and pray for those who lost their lives, as well as for their loved ones who remain behind.
Confirmation of his death by u.s officials
It took mere hours to confirm that the person killed in a compound near Pakistan’s capital was Osama bin Laden.the way it was confirmed was by DNA, among other things.
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.
Also ,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 wasfull biometric analysis of facial and body features.
Obama: Justice has been done
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.
“The U.S. government would have an interest in looking for samples of DNA wherever they might find it, whether from family members or places he might have been, and store those samples,” he said.
Essentially, scientists take DNA from the person’s body, and compare it to another source like a sample collected from the individual at a previous time, or the DNA of a close family member.
DNA samples can be obtained from a multitude of sources, including discarded chewing gum, a toothbrush, a half eaten sandwich and even an envelope the person may have licked to seal, for example.
To confirm bin Laden’s identity, officials probably used several methods, said Michael D. Kirkpatrick, a retired senior FBI assistant director who had worked in creating a biometric database of terrorist identities. He was not involved in the bin Laden case and spoke generally about the identification process.
“I’m sure in this particular instance, given the magnitude of the individual involved and the likelihood of international scrutiny and doubt on the part of some people around the world, that they would err to the extreme — to over-identify him,” he said.
“This is something you really can’t make a mistake. You have the president announcing to the world it happened. Effectively, they would look at all these [biometrics] and make a decision. ”
DNA is the most reliable measure, experts said.
This can be collected through a cheek swab, blood, hair, fingernail, or even saliva from a cigarette.
which helped to identify the more than 20,000 genes in human DNA — forensic experts use DNA to distinguish a person’s genetic footprint, by looking for matches from a sequence of small, repeating markers at different locations on the person’s genome.
Each of us has a unique genetic fingerprint, even though only one-tenth of 1 percent of the 3 million DNA bases differs from one person to the next.
Using family DNA to compare with a person “would be pretty darn accurate,” said Kirkpatrick.
This would work much like a paternity test proving genetic relations, said Max Houck, a former FBI supervisory physical scientist.
Computer software and human DNA analysts could read the data to make the confirmation.
The FBI’s forensic system relies on 13 DNA regions that vary for each individual and use that data to create a genetic profile of that individual. It’s unclear if this is the method intelligence officials used to identify bin Laden’s body.
2. Facial recognition
Facial recognition software programs compare photographs of the person.
Such programs take the topology of the face and essentially read the features, where the person’s eyes, nose, lips are located, their proportions and measurements. The facial recognition programs map the geometry of a person’s face and can compare images.
They identify points of reference on the face and read whether it’s the same person, said biometrics experts.
Facial recognition can also work compare facial features, the shape of the skeletal structure, moles, scars and other skin marks.
3. A visual ID
Bin Laden would’ve stood out to the trained U.S. military team who entered his compound.
“He’s a distinctive person, for that part of the world,” Kirkpatrick said. “He’s 6-feet, 4-inches. He’s gaunt. There are plenty of photographs of him.”
Matching features like bin Laden’s height would’ve helped.
4. Body features
A full biometric analysis could mean wide variety of things including fingerprints, palm prints, DNA analysis, iris scans, said Houck.
It’s unclear exactly what type of identification tools officials used in this category to determine bin Laden.
Some methods also use hand geometry, looking at photos to see the width of palms, the physical features of their hands or even the vein patterns to confirm a person’s identity, said Houck, who examined remains after the 1993 fire in the Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and also worked to identify 9/11 victims during his career with the FBI
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.”
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.
Bin Laden’s death affects the world Obama: Osama bin Laden killed
Gallery: Osama bin Laden
Where bin Laden was killed
A senior administration official said later that “Geronimo” was code for the act of capturing or killing bin Laden, not the man himself.
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.
When first built, the compound was secluded and reachable by only a dirt road, the officials said. In recent years, more residences built up around it, but it remained by far the largest and most heavily secured property in the area, they said.
The mission ordered Friday by Obama found outer walls up to 18 feet tall topped with barbed wire, with two security gates and a series of internal walls that sectioned off different portions of the compound, the senior administration officials said. The main structure was a three-story building with few windows facing the outside of the compound, and a third-floor terrace had a 7-foot privacy wall, they said.
Months of intelligence work determined that the compound was custom-built to hide a high-value terrorism suspect, almost certainly bin Laden. The officials noted there was no telephone or Internet service at the dwelling, which was valued at more than $1 million, and its occupants burned their trash rather than leave it out for collection as other area residents did.
Calling the U.S. operation a surgical raid, officials said it was conducted by a small team and designed to minimize collateral damage.
A firefight was under way for most of the 40 minutes that U.S. Special Operations forces were in the compound, as the team encountered resistance from bin Laden and three other men, a senior defense official said.
The official said the forces had to fight their way through the first floor of the three-story building, where two adult males lived.
Inside the place bin Laden was killed Timeline of bin Laden’s death
Gallery: Reaction to bin Laden’s death
Osama bin Laden
September 11 Attacks
Bin Laden and his family lived on the second and third floors, and they were cleared last, with bin Laden killed in the last five or 10 minutes of the siege, the official said.
One of bin Laden’s wives identified his body to U.S. forces after the team made visual identification, the official said.
In the end, all four of the combatants in the compound were dead, along with a woman whom one of the men used as a human shield, the officials said. Sources said bin Laden was shot in the head.
John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said it is his understanding that the woman who was killed was one of bin Laden’s wives.
Later, a senior U.S. official said that bin Laden’s wife was not the woman killed and that she may not have been used as a human shield after all. This official also said that bin Laden was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the head.
At some point, one of the assaulting helicopters crashed due to a mechanical failure, according to the officials. It was destroyed as the U.S. team flew away, they said.
Obama and the senior administration officials said no U.S. forces were harmed in the operation, which took place very early Monday morning Pakistani time.
Shandana Syed, a resident doctor in Abbottabad, said she woke up to a large thundering sound.
“My initial reaction was that maybe we’re being attacked … I saw the last helicopter. It was flying very low. Initially I was too afraid to get out. I was very terrified,” she said.
U.S. officials said they used a number of methods to identify the body as bin Laden.
One official said it was clear to the assault force that the body matched bin Laden’s description, but they used “facial recognition work, amongst other things, to confirm the identity.”
A senior national security official told CNN that they had multiple confirmations that the body was bin Laden, saying they had the “ability to run images of the body and the face.”
Another U.S. official told CNN that bin Laden has already been buried at sea. His body was handled in the Islamic tradition, said the official, who did not elaborate.
A senior administration official also said bin Laden’s body would be “handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. This is something that we take very seriously, and so therefore this is being handled in an appropriate manner.”
According to the senior administration officials, intelligence work determined at the beginning of 2011 that bin Laden might be located at the compound in Pakistan. By mid-February, the intelligence was considered strong enough to begin considering action pledged by Obama when bin Laden’s whereabouts had been determined.
To discuss that intelligence and develop a plan, Obama chaired five National Security Council meetings from mid-March until late April, with the last two on April 19 and April 28 — last Thursday. The next day, on Friday, Obama gave the order for the mission, the officials said.
A U.S. official said multiple options were considered before settling on the assault.
“A bombing would not have risked American lives but it might have left questions” as to whether Bin Laden was killed, the official said. National security officials widely agreed “the best option is the one that gives proof,” the official said.
The key break involved one of the few couriers trusted by bin Laden, according to the officials. About two years ago, intelligence work identified where the courier and his brother lived and operated in Pakistan, and it took until August of last year to find the compound in Abbottabad, they said.
“When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw — an extraordinarily unique compound,” one senior administration official said. “The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. It is roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area.”
Noting that the courier and his brother had no discernible source of wealth to live at such a property, intelligence analysts concluded the compound was “custom-built to hide someone of extraordinary significance,” the official said, adding: “Everything was consistent with what experts thought Osama bin Laden’s compound would look like.”
U.S. forces also recovered what a senior intelligence official is calling “quite a bit of material.”
“There’s a robust collection of materials we need to sift through, and we hope to find valuable intelligence that will lead us to other players in al Qaeda,” the senior intelligence official said.
A task force has been set up “because of the sheer volume of material collected. That material is currently being exploited and analyzed,” the official added.
ON the 1ST OF MAY 2011, the al qaeda leader, osama bin laden was killed in a firefight between naval officers and his people. this news was officially announced by the u.s president barrack obama on the 2nd of may. It was and is still great news for the world and also the saddest for the al-qudea and talibans and all other terrorist worldwide. 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.