(CNN Student News) -- May 3, 2011
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CNN ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: We're being told by a White House official that the president will make a statement at 10:30.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER: I'm told by sources it is a national security issue.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, JOHN KING, USA: CNN is told by several sources now that the president of the United States will announce in just moments that the United States has the body of Osama bin Laden.
BLITZER: And now the president will tell us officially bin Laden is dead.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: That was the breaking news late Sunday night after we recorded yesterday's show. In today's special edition of CNN Student News, we're going in depth into the death of Osama bin Laden.
AZUZ: He was a terrorist, one of the FBI's most wanted criminals, and the mastermind behind the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Now, Osama bin Laden is dead. Sunday, a U.S. military operation involving Navy SEALs assaulted the compound, this mansion, where bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan. He and four other people were killed. U.S. officials say they've used DNA testing to confirm that the body is that of bin Laden. One of his wives also identified the body for U.S. forces.
Obviously, a very significant moment for the United States and for people around the world. To understand just how big this news is, take a look back. Osama bin Laden had been a terrorist for decades. In 1988, he founded al Qaeda, which became a terrorist network three years later. In 1992, bin Laden was accused of sending some of his followers to fight U.S. forces that were in the African nation of Somalia. And a year later, a bomb exploded at New York's World Trade Center. Bin Laden was one of several people suspected of being involved. 1996: Osama bin Laden declared a "jihad," or holy war, against U.S. forces. Two years after that, he was charged with the murders of 224 people; they died in the bombings at U.S. embassies in the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania. He appeared on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list in 1999. And he was linked to the bombing of a U.S. Navy ship -- the USS Cole -- that killed 17 sailors in the year 2000. September 11th, 2001: Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks that killed nearly three thousand people on U.S. soil.
The events and images of that day seared into the memories of so many Americans. Four planes hijacked by al Qaeda terrorists: Two were flown into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York. Both of those would later collapse. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C. And the fourth crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in a field, after passengers fought back against the hijackers. It was, again, the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. It led to the U.S.-led war on terrorism, the war in Afghanistan. And now, the man behind it, Osama bin Laden, is dead.
AZUZ: "Justice has been done." That's what President Obama said when he announced bin Laden's death. He also spoke about what this moment means for the United States.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, that we have never forgotten your loss nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. The cause of securing our country is not complete, but tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history. Whether it's the pursuit of prosperity for our people or the struggle for equality for all our citizens, our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place. Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
AZUZ: Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on September 11th, 2001, released a statement Sunday night about bin Laden's death. Mr. Bush said, "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
So, how did the U.S. find bin Laden? Jeanne Meserve details the events that led up to bin Laden's death.
OBAMA: I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: U.S. officials say it began last August when new leads came to light about the possible whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.
OBAMA: It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside Pakistan.
MESERVE: The key lead: tracking one of the few couriers trusted by bin Laden. Then, last Friday, President Obama authorized an operation to get the head of al Qaeda. That operation happened Sunday in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. Bin Laden was in a large compound originally built on the outskirts of town, reachable only by a dirt road. Over time, more homes had been built around it. U.S. officials say the compound had 12-18 foot walls topped with barbed wire and what's being called extraordinary security. A third floor terrace had a seven-foot privacy wall. Only a small group inside the U.S. government knew about the operation carried out by Navy SEALs in helicopters.
OBAMA: A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.
MESERVE: The operation lasted about 40 minutes. Though a U.S. helicopter crashed due to mechanical reasons, there were no U.S. casualties. Bin Laden resisted the assault and was killed in the firefight, shot in the head.
AZUZ: As the news of bin Laden's death came out on Sunday night, a crowd started forming outside the gates at the White House. People turning out to celebrate the news. There was a patriotic spirit to the spontaneous gathering. Listen.
CROWD: And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
AZUZ: Similar crowds at cities around the U.S. That includes in New York, where people gathered at Ground Zero, the spot where the Twin Towers once stood. The reactions weren't all celebrations, though. Gordon Felt is the president of the Familes of Flight 93. That's the 9/11 plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Discussing bin Laden's death, he said "it cannot ease our pain or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."
U.S. and Pakistan
AZUZ: This is the compound, the mansion, where Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan. It's in a city called Abbottabad, about 100 miles away from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. There are some disagreements between the U.S. and Pakistan over how much info the Pakistani government had about the assault on the compound. But both countries agree that information from Pakistan helped lead U.S. forces to the place. The two countries agreed to work together to fight terrorists, but the U.S. and Pakistan have had some problems with each other recently. The United States says Pakistan hasn't been putting enough pressure on terrorist groups. Pakistan is angry about American attacks against terrorists inside Pakistani borders.
AZUZ: One question that comes up is how al Qaeda might react to bin Laden's death. A U.S. official said the government expects threats of retaliation, pointing out that al Qaeda declared war on the U.S. more than a decade ago. Security was increased at military facilities around the country. More officers on patrol at the U.S. Capitol. American embassies in other countries put on high alert, and the government gave a travel warning for Americans overseas.
AZUZ: U.S. forces took bin Laden's body out of that compound in Pakistan. Islamic law says the burial has to happen with 24 hours. Since there was no alternative on land, bin Laden's body was buried at sea. U.S. officials said they made all efforts to follow Islamic burial rules. But the death of bin Laden does not mean the end of the U.S.-led war on terror. Here's what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to say.
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al Qaeda and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden. Indeed, we must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts.
AZUZ: A historic moment for the United States in the fight against terrorists, and for people around the world. Global reaction is pouring in to us, and we want to hear what's going through your mind, too. You can share your thoughts on our blog at CNNStudentNews.com. And we thank you for watching this special edition of CNN Student News. We'll see you again tomorrow.