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In pics: The piece of paper that ENDED bin Laden

Last updated on: April 27, 2012 13:07 IST

In pics: The piece of paper that ENDED bin Laden

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Yoshita Singh in New York

A hand-written memo in which United States President Barack Obama authorised the Navy SEALs team to "go in and get (Osama) bin Laden" at his hideout in Pakistan one year ago has been made public.

Obama's orders to the Navy SEALs team had been to "go in and get bin Laden" and to "get out" if the Al Qaeda leader was not in the Abbottabad compound, according to the secret memo handwritten and signed by the then Central Intelligence Agency chief Leon Panetta made public by Time magazine.

In the April 29 memo, Panetta, now Secretary of Defence, wrote that he received a phone call from National Security  Adviser Tom Donilon who told him the president had "made a decision with regard to AC1 (Abbottabad Compound 1)." 

"The decision is to proceed with the assault...The direction is to go in and get Bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out," the memo published by Time magazine ahead of the first anniversary of the May 2 killing of bin Laden, said. 

Panetta further wrote in the memo that the timing, operational decision making and control of the raid was in the hands of Admiral William McRaven, in charge of the hunt for bin Laden as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.

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Image: Obama's orders to the Navy SEALs team had been to
Photographs: Courtsey: Time magazine

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"The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the president. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the president for his consideration....Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am," he wrote in the memo.

In a separate report on the last days of bin Laden, Time magazine details months of secret and difficult discussions in the White House before Obama made his decision, one on which he was "betting his presidency" to send US special forces inside the Pakistani garrison town to get the world's most wanted man.

The Time magazine report said family life in Abbottabad was a "source of genuine solace" for bin Laden, who was staying in the compound with his three wives and children.

The report said bin Laden believed deeply that polygamy and procreation were religious obligations.

He often repeated a saying, attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, that "Marry and increase in number because with you I increase the nation (of Muslims)."

To other friends, he joked, "I don't understand why people take only one wife. If you take four wives, you live like a groom." In October 2010, bin Laden had written a 48-page memo to one of his deputies that surveyed the state of Al Qaeda's jihad.

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Image: US President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House
Photographs: Pete Souza/Reuters/Handout

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In pics: The piece of paper that ENDED bin Laden

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Bin Laden also expressed worry that Al Qaeda's longtime sanctuary in Waziristan, in Pakistan's tribal areas, was now too dangerous because of US drone strikes.

"I am leaning toward getting most of our brothers out of the area," he wrote.

Bin Laden fretted about his 20-year-old son Hamza, who had moved to the tribal regions sometime in 2010, writing in the memo, "Make sure to tell Hamza that I am of the opinion he should get out of Waziristan... He should move only when the clouds are heavy."

While publicly calling for young men to join his holy war, bin Laden was privately advising that his son decamp for the tiny, prosperous kingdom of Qatar.

The report said that in the end bin Laden became a "victim of his own security arrangements." The room on the third floor of the house, made especially to hide a tall man like bin Laden, had windows on only one of its four sides, and they were opaque.

As the Navy Seal team descended on the compound in the dead of the night on May 2, the few windows made it impossible for him to see what was going on outside.

"Dressed in tan shalwar kameez, the leader of Al Qaeda waited in the dark in silence for about 15 minutes, seemingly paralysed as the Americans stormed his last refuge.

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Image: Video frame grab of Osama bin Laden watching him on television in videos at his Abbottabad compound released by the Pentagon
Photographs: Handout/Reuters
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With no moon and the electricity out, it was pitch black, which must have added to his confusion," the Time report said.

There were AK-47 and Makarov machine pistol on a shelf in bin Laden's bedroom, but he didn't reach for them. Instead he opened a metal gate, which blocked all access to his room and could be opened only from the inside, and poked his head out to see what the commotion was about.

"He was immediately spotted by the SEALs, who bounded up the next flight of stairs. Retreating inside, bin Laden made the fatal error of not locking the gate behind him, allowing the SEALs to run past it into a short hallway. They then turned right into his bedroom."

Bin Laden offered no resistance when he was killed with a "double tap" of shots to the chest and left eye. "It was a grisly scene: his brains spattered on the ceiling above him and poured out of his eye socket. The floor near the bed was smeared with bin Laden's blood," the report added.

"The aging bin Laden may have grown complacent or tired during his decade on the run; he had no real escape plan, and there was no secret passageway out of his house."


Image: A SEAL team member
Photographs: Reuters

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