■ US SPECIAL FORCES KILL OSAMA BIN LADEN IN SURPRISE RAID ON PAKISTAN COMPOUND
■ Fears grow of revenge attack by Islamic extremists
■ Barack Obama watched raid live from White House
■ Shock as tyrant found hours from Pakistan capital
OSAMA bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, died from a gunshot to the head yesterday, ending an international manhunt that has lasted 10 years.
After the decade-long wait, it took just 40-minutes for a 24-member US navy SEAL team to complete their mission inside bin Laden’s compound in the military town of Abbottabad, just two hours from the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
Bin Laden, who was armed, is said to have used one of his wives as a human shield in the moments before his death. The SEAL team opened fire after he refused to surrender. His wife, who was among the dead, is understood to have identified him in the moments before they were killed. One of bin Laden’s sons and two henchmen were also shot dead.
The SEAL team suffered no casualties, although one US helicopter was deliberately destroyed after it suffered technical problems that prevented it from leaving the scene.
Bin Laden’s body was also identified by a DNA test that matched a sample of one taken from his late sister.
Last night it emerged US security sources fear bin Laden may have recorded a new message shortly before his death. Intelligence sources fear this tape will soon surface and will be used to provoke revenge attacks by Al-Qaeda sympathisers. It is understood the timing is a coincidence and bin Laden was not expecting an imminent raid.
Images have been released which show President Obama and secretary of state Hillary Clinton watching the operation live from the White House.
Obama yesterday declared “justice has been done”. He said: “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al-Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that Al-Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.”
Bin Laden was buried in the North Arabian Sea following Islamic rules after Saudi Arabia, where he was born, refused to accept his corpse.
Questions are now being asked about the role Pakistan played in harbouring bin Laden.
Assistant to the President for homeland security and counter-terrorism John Brennan said it was “inconceivable” that bin Laden did not have a support network to facilitate staying in such a populated area. He said: “People are raising a number of questions and understandably so. I’m sure a number of people have questions about whether there was some kind of support provided by the Pakistani government.”
Afghan president Hamid Karzai was among those suggesting Pakistan was complicit.
The UK maintained its “severe” terror alert, with David Cameron holding an emergency meeting last night to discuss the possible impacts on domestic security.
World stocks retreated yesterday, after initially rising on the news of bin Laden’s death.