A U.S. intelligence operation in Pakistan killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden Sunday, President Barack Obama announced in a nationally televised address from the White House at 11:36 PM (EST), Sunday night.
It was revealed that shortly after taking office in January 2009, Obama ordered Director of Central Intelligence Leon E. Panetta to make bin Laden’s death or capture the top priority of the U.S. war against the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, according to John Banusiewicz of the American Forces Press Service.
"Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground," Obama said.
The president said he met repeatedly with his national security team as information developed indicating bin Laden was at a compound in Pakistan, and that last week he determined enough information was available and authorized the operation.
"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Obama said. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.
"No Americans were harmed," he continued. "They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."
Obama noted that bin Laden had been al-Qaeda’s leader and symbol for more than 20 years and continued to plot attacks against the United States and its allies.
While President Obama failed to mention President George W. Bush and his national security team, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security did remember the Bush leadership and issued the following statement on the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States:
"The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda, yet his death does not mark the end of our effort," Obama said. "There is no doubt that al-Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must, and we will, remain vigilant at home and abroad."
Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped in finding bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding, the president said.
"Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people. Tonight, I called [Pakistani] President [Asif Ali] Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations, and going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates."
The president praised those who worked to find bin Laden and those who carried out the operation that killed him.
"We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation," he continued, "for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day."
“I commend President Obama on the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“Today, the American people have seen justice. The leader of the United States’ top enemy has gotten what he deserves for orchestrating the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001.
“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.
“This great success would not have been possible without the tireless work of countless brave men and women who have served around the world in this War on Terror.”