Bin Laden Raid Will Help Defeat al
Bin Laden Raid Will Help
Defeat al-Qaida, Obama Says
By Cheryl Pellerin,
American Forces Press
-- May 5, 2011 – (AFNS) -- The death of Osama bin Laden and the
unprecedented collection of intelligence material from the raid that killed the
terrorist leader will help the U.S. deal a serious blow to al-Qaida, President
Barack Obama said May 8 in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast on CBS.
President Obama discussed the operation that killed bin Laden
in Pakistan and the implications of his death for the fight against terrorism.
"We now have the opportunity ... to finally defeat at least
al-Qaida in that border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan," President
"That doesn't mean that we will defeat terrorism," he added.
"It doesn't mean that al-Qaida hasn't metastasized to other parts of the world.
But it does mean we've got a chance to deliver a fatal blow to this organization
if we follow through aggressively in the months to come."
Describing last week as one of the most satisfying for the
nation since he's been president, President Obama called bin Laden "a symbol of
terrorism and a mass murderer" who has long eluded justice.
"For us to be able to definitively say, 'We got the man who
caused thousands of deaths here in the United States and who had been the
rallying point for a violent extremist jihad around the world' was something
that I think all of us were profoundly grateful to be a part of," he said.
The president said shortly after he took office, he spoke
privately with CIA director Leon E. Panetta about putting more resources, focus
and urgency into efforts to find bin Laden. The CIA worked steadily on the
problem since 2001, President Obama said, but "a range of threads were out there
that hadn't quite been pulled all together."
Over many months, CIA and military experts worked closely to
identify bin Laden's compound, gather evidence and, beginning last August, shape
the action plan that ultimately nabbed the al-Qaida leader.
"This was a very difficult decision, in part because the
evidence we had was not absolutely conclusive," President Obama said.
The plan entailed enormous risk to the men who carried out
the mission, the president said.
"I thought it was important, though, for us to be able to say
that we'd definitely got the guy," he added.
Also, the president said, the opportunity to exploit
information that might be found in the compound factored into his decision to
authorize the raid.
President Obama said he and his team were not surprised to
find bin Laden hiding in plain sight, but they were surprised to learn that the
compound had been there for so long without information leaking out about it.
"I think the image that bin Laden had tried to promote was
that he was an ascetic, living in a cave," the president said. "This guy was
living in a million-dollar compound in a residential neighborhood."
Bin Laden was in the compound for at least five years, he
The president said his biggest concern in planning and
executing the operation was ensuring the U.S. team could get out, regardless of
how the mission turned out.
"As outstanding a job as our intelligence teams did ... at
the end of the day, this was still a 55/45 situation," he said. "We could not
say definitively that bin Laden was there. Had he not been there, then there
would have been significant consequences."
Geopolitical risks were involved in entering the sovereign
territory of another country, landing helicopters and conducting a military
operation, he said.
"If it turns out that it's a wealthy prince from Dubai who's
in this compound and we've sent Special Forces in, we've got problems," the
The team that conducted the raid was so capable, President
Obama said, that it gave him the confidence to proceed with the mission.
"I think the American people have some sense of how good
these guys are," he added, "but until you actually see them and meet them, it's
hard to describe how courageous, how tough, how skilled, how precise they are."
The mission was worth the risk, President Obama said, because
the nation has "devoted enormous blood and treasure in fighting back against
al-Qaida since 2001" and before that, with the embassy bombing in Kenya.
"I said to myself that if we have a good chance of not
completely defeating, but badly disabling, al-Qaida, then it was worth both the
political risks as well as the risks to our men," the president said.
After the mission, President Obama said he felt relieved.
"I walked up with my team and I just said, 'We got him,'" he
said. "And I expressed my profound gratitude and pride to the team that had
worked on this."
The successful mission prompted him also to think about the
families of those who died at the hands of bin Laden in 2001, he said.
"I got a letter the day after, an email from a young person
who had spoken to her dad when she was 4 years old before the towers collapsed,"
the president said. "He was in (one of the buildings). She described what it had
been like for the last 10 years growing up, always having ... the sound of her
father's voice and thinking that she'd never see him again, and watching her
mother weep on the phone," he said. "That's what I thought about."