Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama visited the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Friday to thank operatives at the CIA and elsewhere for their work in tracking down Osama bin Laden.
"Today I've returned just to say thank you on behalf of all Americans and people around the world," the president said. "I wanted every single one of you to know ... the work you did and the quality of intelligence you provided made the critical difference."
Now "we're going to finish the job," he said. "We're going to defeat al Qaeda."
Obama's decision to visit the CIA came shortly after the successful raid on bin Laden's Pakistani compound, White House press secretary Jay Carney said this week.
"This truly was a team effort. That's not always the case in Washington," Obama said. This was "a tribute to your perseverance. ... Intelligence professionals are going to be inspired by and study your achievement for generations to come."
CIA Director Leon Panetta oversaw the May 2 raid, which was conducted by Navy SEALs and ended in the death of bin Laden.
Saif al-Adel, a former Egyptian special forces officer, has been chosen as bin Laden's successor to lead al Qaeda, according to CNN contributor Peter Bergen.