Osama Bin Laden report: Details revealed of 36-minute raid by US under the noses of Pakistan's miltary


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The Independent Online

US aircraft patrolling over Afghanistan are watching the skies to warn Black Hawk helicopters of any Pakistani military response as they close in on Bin Laden’s compound. There is no response, however, as the Pakistani air force is on “peacetime” deployment.

* The Afghan presence is spotted by the Pakistanis, but not the attack helicopters. Just over an hour after taking off from Jalalabad, the Black Hawks arrive in Abbottabad. The Seals rappel down, with Urdu and Pashto speakers forming a cordon to keep locals out. Bin Laden and his third wife, 29-year-old Yemeni national Amal Ahmad Abdul Fattah al-Sadah, are with their three-year-old son on the second floor. Hearing noise ‘like a storm’ outside, they go to the balcony but the night is moonless and can see nothing. Sadah goes to see her other five children downstairs; Bin Laden is joined by his daughters Mariam, 21, and Sumayya, 20, upstairs.

* The Seals hit an annexe first, shooting Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti, Bin Laden’s Pakistani bodyguard, through a window. His wife, Maryam, is hit in the shoulder. A soldier demands, in Arabic, that she open the door. She does, and is put under guard outside with her children. 

* In the main building, Maryam goes to the balcony with her children to see what is happening. Bin Laden reaches for his gun. They hear an explosion (possibly the sound of one of the Black Hawks crashing) and footsteps on the stairs. A soldier on the landing fixes Bin Laden with a red laser sight; Sadah throws herself in front of her husband and is shot in the knee. Bin Laden is then killed.

* Sumayya says Bin Laden is shot in the forehead. The soldiers ask her and Maryam to identify the body and lead them away. Sharifa Siham Sabar, Bin Laden’s second of three wives, is in her room on the second floor with her son, Khalid, who rushes with his gun to Bin Laden’s side. Khalid is killed, as is Abrar al-Kuwaiti, a guard/courier and brother of Ibrahim, and Abrar’s wife, Bushra. Sharifa and Bin Laden’s eldest wife, Khairiyyah, are led away by soldiers.

* The Seals leave by helicopter, destroying the downed Black Hawk with explosives. The raid takes 36 minutes. Local police only arrive on the scene after spotting the flaming helicopter at 1.06am. Senior officials eventually enter the site and find four bodies – Ibrahim and Abrar al-Kuwaiti, Khalid and Bushra. Bin Laden’s body is not among them. The Pakistani army’s Quick Response Force receives information about the raid at 12.40am. By the time officers arrive at 1.20am, the US forces have left. Pakistani F16s are not scrambled until 2.50am, three and a half hours after the raid began – and 24 minutes after the last US helicopter had left Pakistani airspace. The US calls the Pakistani military at 5am. President Zardari is informed at 6.45am.