Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The raid that took Osama out

Wiki has a compiled summary on the raid, worth excerpting:


>> After President Obama authorized the mission to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, CIA Director Leon Panetta gave the go-ahead at midday on May 1.[67]

The raid was carried out by 20 to 25 helicopter-borne United States Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) of the Joint Special Operations Command, temporarily transferred to the control of the Central Intelligence Agency. According to The New York Times, "79 commandos and a dog were involved."[68] Additional personnel on the mission included "tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers."[35]

The SEALs flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan (Previous reports indicated that they may have staged through Tarbela Ghazi Airbase in northwest Pakistan. Pakistan has denied that the US used a location in Pakistan to launch the raid.[69][70][71]) The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, of the United States Army Special Operations Command provided two modified Black Hawk helicopters, and two Chinooks as backups.[60][64][35][72][71] The raid was scheduled for a time with little moon luminosity so the helicopters could enter Pakistan "low to the ground and undetected."[73]

The helicopters used hilly terrain and nap-of-the-earth techniques to reach the compound without appearing on radar and alerting the Pakistani military. Once the raid began, the Pakistani military was alerted, and they scrambled their fighter jets but did not interfere with the raid.[69] According to Public Multimedia, Pakistan was informed by the US about the raid once it had started, but was asked to stay out of the way.[74]

The SEALs fast-roped out of the helicopters. One of the helicopters stalled,[75] in a vortex created by its own prop wash and the high compound walls,[76] and was forced to make an emergency landing outside[75] the compound. At approximately 1:00 a.m. local time (20:00, May 1 UTC),[77][78] the SEALs breached the compound's walls using explosives and attacked the compound's structures and the compound's guards opened fire.[79][71]

The SEALs neutralized the guards, who may have consisted of only the courier and his brother, and then cleared the various structures in compound, including the main building, room-to-room.[80] CNN reported there were no armed guards around the compound and the couriers were killed on the first floor of the compound.[81] Fighting took place in the main building on the first floor, where two adult males lived, and on the second and third floors, where bin Laden lived with his family. The second and third floors were the last section of the compound to be cleared.[82] Personnel in the compound encountered and captured by the SEALs, including women and children, were restrained with plastic zip ties and left in place until the raid was over, at which point the SEALs moved them all outside.[83]

Bin Laden and the DEVGRU team encountered each other on the third floor of the residence; bin Laden was "wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a shalwar kameez."[56] "The encounter with bin Laden lasted only seconds," according to Politico, and took place during "the last five or 10 minutes" of the raid.[64] While not carrying a gun, bin Laden resisted the American special operation team, according to US officials.[84] Bin Laden was killed by at least one and possibly two American bullets, one of which struck the left side of his head.

Three other men and a woman present at the compound were also reportedly killed in the operation, including bin Laden's adult son, the courier, the courier's brother, and the courier's wife. Two other women were injured.[85] According to ABC News, bin Laden's wife was one of the injured females, "When the SEALs entered the room in which bin Laden was hiding, his wife charged them and was shot in the leg."[84] According to another report, bin Laden's 12 or 13-year-old daughter also saw him killed.[86]

It remains unclear which of bin Laden's adult sons was killed in the raid. The New York Times reported that U.S. authorities determined that the man was Hamza bin Laden.[56] The Associated Press cited John O. Brennan as giving the man's identity as Khaled bin Laden.[87] While bin Laden's body was taken by U.S. forces, the bodies of the four others killed in the raid were left behind at the compound.[88]

The exact number and identity of the people living in the compound is uncertain. Several appear to be members of the Osama bin Laden family, including possibly his fourth wife and their daughter. A U.S. official told the Associated Press that in addition to the five adults who were killed during the operation, 23 children and 9 women were in the compound. The National Journal reported that 22 people were counted in the compound.[35] A Pakistani official told the New York Times that nine children ranging from 2 to 12 years old were placed in Pakistani custody.[56] According to the British Daily Mail, "four children and two women, including bin Laden's daughter Safia, were taken away in an ambulance."[70] One other person was reportedly taken away alive by the U.S. military.[86][89]

The raid was intended to take 30 minutes. All told, the time between the team's entry in and exit from the compound was 38 minutes.[64] Time in the compound was split into exchanging gunfire with the defenders[82] and searching the compound for information.[90] U.S. personnel removed computer hard drives, documents, DVDs, thumb drives and "electronic equipment" from the compound for later analysis.[64][91]

The helicopter that had made the emergency landing was damaged[60] and could not fly the team out. It was consequently destroyed to safeguard its classified equipment; after they "moved the women and children to a secure area"[56] U.S. forces "improvise[d] by packing the helicopter with explosives and blowing it up."[25][92] The assault team "called in one of two backup [helicopters]" to ferry them back to their base.[27]

The 160th SOAR helicopters were supported by multiple other aircraft, including fixed-wing fighter jets and drones.[93]>>

There were reports of RPG rockets fired at the helicopters, possibly hitting one. 

We will never be sure of all details but the above looks like a first rough draft of what credibly happened. END


UPDATE: CBS has a similar compilation here. One of the generally circulated pictures of the compound shows the guest house door area with scattered bullet gouges around it and to the top.

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