On Monday morning in
Pakistan (Sunday in U.S. time) U.S. Navy Seals received the go-ahead from U.S.
President Barack Obama to carry out a critical operation that will go down in
the history books. Storming a a mansion compound outside the
Pakistani capital of Islamabad, the U.S. special operatives killed infamous Al
Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden, 54, along with other family members.
Bin Laden had been hunted by the U.S. for years
after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the even more brazen attacks
on September 11, 2001 that killed over 3,000 Americans in Washington D.C. and
New York City and left more than 6,000 wounded.
The terrorist leader had managed to elude the U.S.
for over a decade before the latest developments. During President George
W. Bush's presidency, special forces reportedly had bin Laden trapped in
Afghanistan, but did not receive a "kill" order from the President in
time, allowing the famed terrorist kingpin to escape.
This time around there would be no such luck for
bin Laden. But he might have escaped yet again, had he only checked
Twitter feeds on the web.
I. Twitter Users Catch Wind of the Raid Early
Early Monday Sohaib Athar, a software consultant
who was "taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with
his laptops", noticed helicopters hovering over the region -- an unusual
He posted on
Twitter under the name "ReallyVirtual":
Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).
Soon after he updated:
A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its
not the start of something nasty :-S
It appears that Mr. Athar spotted the helicopters before the
raid. But fortunately (or unfortunately for bin Laden) nobody at the
terrorist's compound seemed to spot the internet postings in time to evacuate
the compound before U.S. forces snuck in, surrounded the compound, and
initiated a furious fire-fight.
Later a post reveals that one of the American
helicopters appears to have crashed due to some kind of technical difficulties or enemy fire. The post states:
The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town
area, and there's report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone.
No American casualties have thus far been
In retrospect the posts stand as an insightful
footnotes to this historic event. They also illustrate the growing
transparency provided by the web and the difficulty in conducting stealth
operations in the internet-era. And last, but not least, they offer a
blow to conspiracy theorists who are claiming in some forums that the
"raid" and "killing" were fabricated to boost the
President's approval rating.
II. DNA, Biometrics Verify With 99 Percent
Certainty That Corpse was bin Laden's
The attack reportedly killed not only bin Laden,
but several family members. It was of the utmost importance during the attack
that the U.S. forces verify the corpse of Osama bin Laden to prevent confusion
and doubts in the international community.
To do so, they used both biometric
analysis of facial and body features and an in-depth full DNA
analysis. The tests confirmed with
99.9 percent certainty that one of the corpses recovered in the aftermath of
the mansion shootout was bin Laden's.
According to U.S. government sources, bin Laden
had not engaged in plastic surgery efforts to disguise himself as some news
outlets had erroneously reported.
President Obama said that U.S. forces were tipped
off months ago by a courier who had been transporting materials to and from the
compound to top Al Qaeda operatives. Following the lead, they wiretapped
the compound and verified that Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders were
residing within. The President almost called in a bombing strike in the
February-March period, but called it off at the last minute, deciding that it
was too important to directly recover the corpse.
By verifying the body, President Obama and the
U.S. Armed Forces have eliminated doubts of the terrorist's survival in the
minds of all but the most harden conspiracy theorists.
Despite his horrific crimes against humanity, the
U.S. forces reportedly respected Islamic tradition, giving bin Laden a burial
at sea that was carefully carried out in accordance to Islamic customs.
The decision to bury the terrorist at sea was reportedly made to prevent
any shrine to his martyrdom from being erected.
III. Concluding Thoughts
While a black-op of sorts, the raid on the bin
Laden was backed by some serious military firepower that was also interesting
from a tech perspective.
Patrolling the skies were an army of robotic drone
aircraft -- a technology that increasingly is becoming a fundamental
basis of America's war-force. Waiting outside the Pakistani airspace
were a squadron of fixed-wing fighter jets and a group of MH-53 Pave Low
and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters packed with troops.
The extra forces were designed to provide air and
ground support, should the Navy Seals encounter an unexpected level of
But in the end, the result was an anticlimactic,
relatively brief affair. Outgunned by the well-trained American
operatives bin Laden -- who himself had received military training from U.S.
operatives during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan -- was gunned down.
Thus closed a dramatic epic of American history.
President Obama comments on the developments in a
White House video
message, uploaded late Sunday (U.S. time -- Monday in Pakistan's time) on