In his address to the nation late last night on the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama explained how he first learned that bin Laden might be hiding in a Pakistani compound in August, how he obtained enough intelligence to authorize a raid last week, and how U.S. forces killed the al-Qaeda leader and seized his body after a firefight.This morning, several news outlets are filling in the details about how the most critical counterterrorism operation in American history went down. The various accounts, when strung together, read like a movie plot:
The story really begins in August, The New York Times tells us, when the U.S. military and intelligence community got its first big break in the bin Laden manhunt since American forces nearly captured bin Laden in 2001 during the Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan. Intelligence officials learned that an al-Qaeda courier who was serving as bin Laden's envoy to the outside world was living in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, near a Pakistani military academy and not far from the capital, Islamabad,
The Times and AP explain that as C.I.A. analysts pored over satellite photos and intelligence reports over several months, they became increasingly convinced that the compound was housing bin Laden, and that it had been expressly built for that purpose. The AP explains that the three-story, million-dollar compound was surrounded by 18-foot walls with barbed wire, with two guarded security gates serving as the only entrances and a third-floor terrace featuring a seven-foot privacy wall. "No phone lines or Internet cables ran to the property," the AP notes. "The residents burned their garbage rather than put it out for collection."