Pentagon backtracks on claims that Bin Laden put up a fight

Latest version of events contradicts claim that al-Qa'ida leader was killed in firefight

As President Obama made his pilgrimage to Ground Zero in New York, new details emerged yesterday suggesting that the commando raid that killed the world's most wanted terrorist in Pakistan on Monday was a far more one-sided affair than original official US accounts suggested.

According to a new version provided by Pentagon officials, of the five people killed in the commando raid in which Osama bin Laden was shot dead, only one was armed and fired a shot. He was Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the courier whose identification and shadowing led American agents to the fortified compound on the outskirts of Abbottabad where the al-Qa'ida leader was hiding.

After shooting Mr Kuwaiti dead in the guest house, along with a woman who was there, the US Navy Seals moved on to the main building and no further shots were fired in resistance, the officials said, painting a somewhat different picture from the prolonged firefight initially described. The raid culminated with the killing of Bin Laden on the top floor of the compound residence proper.

The raid lasted approximately 40 minutes. But at the moment of his death, the terrorist leader was not carrying a weapon, though some accounts suggest an AK-47 rifle and a pistol were on a table close by. The officials now describe the assault on the main residence as a "precision, floor-by-floor operation" in which the courier's brother and Bin Laden's son Khaled were shot dead, before the commando team reached the room containing Bin Laden.

Officials blame the confusion on the "fog of war", and their desire to provide as much early information as possible to the media. They say that what precisely happened has been established only now that the Seals who took part in the raid have been properly debriefed.

But the changing story has removed a little lustre from the most triumphal national security moment of the Obama presidency. Originally, Bin Laden was supposed to have died in a massive gunfight, using his wife as a human shield, cornered in a house that was supposed to be the lap of luxury.

The Obama administration now says it will give no further details of the raid – which appears to have used "stealth" helicopters, fuelling worries that the wreckage of one that crashed could be shipped to China to reveal its technological secrets – following the President's decision not to release death photos of Bin Laden.

But the impression persists that the administration sought to cast the operation in the most heroic light possible, at the expense of the facts. That in turn could stoke new demands for publication of the photos, should further discrepancies emerge.

Meanwhile, another Saudi terrorist – Khaled Hathal al-Qahtani, linked to Al Qai'da and the 13th most wanted man in his home country – was apprehended in a less violent manner earlier this week when he handed himself in. In any case, it will soon be partisan business as usual again in US politics. Yesterday, Vice-President Joe Biden opened talks with top congressional leaders on how to reduce the federal deficit.

The debt argument, pitting Republicans demanding spending cuts against Democrats determined to protect key social programmes such as Medicare and Social Security, is the issue that may above all decide whether Mr Obama wins a second term in November 2012.

Even as the President was in New York, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, declared his party would not vote to raise the US debt limit, due to be hit within weeks, without "trillions of dollars" of spending cuts.

The death of national enemy No 1 Osama bin Laden has created a rare moment of unity between the parties. It is unlikely to last.

Who was the raid's four-legged hero?

As the clamour for answers over the shooting of Osama bin Laden grows, one unexpected mystery is emerging from the fog of war: was the 80th member of the elite commando squad a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois? And was it decked out in its tan or camouflage green waterproof vest?

Soon after the raid in the early hours of Monday morning, US security officials revealed that one dog had taken part in the operation to kill or capture the al-Qa'ida chief. It has since been hailed as America's most courageous canine, but like the rest of the elite Seal Team 6 that descended from helicopters and into the fray, its identity remains classified.

Dogs used by US Navy Seal teams were last year kitted out in waterproof tan or camouflage vests equipped with night-vision cameras and speakers so their handlers can shout orders at them remotely, according to a report in the New York Times. Nij Islam, head trainer with the UK-based Elite K9, which trains dogs for security services worldwide, said that although a parachuting canine may seem far-fetched, all it takes is solid training – and a plucky disposition.

"You just need a dog with a stable temperament – not a nervous dog – with a lot of confidence, a very strong nerve," he said. In a situation such as the Pakistan raid, the dog could have been used to sniff out the human target, ensure there were no explosives, or bring down any suspect trying to flee. Mr Islam said only German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois or Dutch Herders would be up to the job.

Dogs are increasingly being deployed in war zones, where they are often used to hunt out deadly roadside bombs.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

Arts and Entertainment
TVSabotage, a major meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?