“Sometimes there is a terrifying symmetry in history….” – Alan Palmer
“Sometimes there is a truly WONDERFUL symmetry to history. This is one such moment!!” – Brian T. Bolten
Above are two quotes. One from a truly eminent historian; Alan Palmer. Mr. Palmer was writing in his superb book about the 1812 invasion of Russia by France, “Napoleon in Russia”. He was referring to the fact that the high-water mark of the French invasion, the town of Maloyaroslavets wherein a battle took place in October of 1812 , was also the high-water mark of the Nazi invasion of 130 years later in October of 1942. The other quote comes from a far less eminent writer – myself. I was writing about how the day after the death anniversary of the foremost monster of our times, Adolf Hitler, we were celebrating the death of the foremost monster of recent years – the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network, Osama Bin Laden. Yes, it was on today’s date, May 1 in 2011 that bin Laden was gunned down by U.S. Navy Seals at about 8:00 p.m., eastern time. Three years have now passed since that important day which brought dancing in the streets across the United States. While I did not join in the dancing, I fully shared in that feeling of elation. And I still feel as if it was a truly wonderful symmetry of history to have one miserable, murdering, evil scum bag of a creature removed from the planet the very day after another.
Finding Bin Laden…….
The U.S. intelligence effort to determine the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, which eventually resulted in his death, began with a fragment of information found in 2002, resulting in years of further investigation. Since Bin Laden had nearly been knocked out by earlier US missile strikes, he was known to have stopped using phones through which his location could be tracked. He instead began using couriers to keep in touch with the outside world from his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. By 2002 US officials had heard unsubstantiated rumors that a courier named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was in contact with Bin Laden. A 2010 wiretap of another suspect found a conversation with al-Kuwaiti. CIA operatives located al-Kuwaiti in August 2010 and followed him back to bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound (pictured above). In June 2011, Pakistani officials revealed al Kuwati’s real name as Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed from Pakistan’s Swat Valley. He and his brother Abrar and their families were living at the compound along with Bin Laden. Of course we did not have actual photos of Bin Laden there, but the link to the courier was important, and the CIA used surveillance photos and intelligence reports to figure out the identities of the folks living at the compound to which the courier was traveling. In September 2010, the CIA concluded that the compound was custom-built to hide someone of significance, very likely bin Laden probably living there with his youngest wife.
The Raid on Bin Laden’s Pakistani Compound
On April 19, 2011, a helicopter raid on the suspected compound was approved by President Obama. Due to the difficult nature of our relationship with Pakistan, and suspected ties between them and Bin Laden it was decided not to tell the Pakistani government about the raid ahead of time. The raid was originally set for April 30, but heavy cloud cover delayed it until May 1. The attack force consisted of 79 U.S. Navy Seals transported on six helicopters – Blackhawk and Chinook heavy lift helicopters. The first helicopter to enter the compound encountered difficulties which forced it to make a soft crash landing into the Compound wall, going nose-first to keep from tipping over. Nobody was injured though, and the raid went on using the other choppers as backups. The SEALs found the residents in the
compound’s guest house, in the main building on the first floor , and on the second and third floors where bin Laden lived with his family. The Seals reported finding “small knots of children… on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden’s room”. The Courier, al-Kuwaiti was armed and a brief fire fight erupted in which he and his brother were killed. The SEALs found bin Laden on the second or third floor of the main building “wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a ‘kurta paijama’ “. Bin Laden peered over the third floor ledge at our boys barreling up the stairs, and then ran back into his room as a SEAL fired a shot at him, but missed. The SEALs followed him back into his room wherein they found him shielded by two of his wives. . One of them yelled in Arabic and moved as if she were about to charge. One of the SEALs shot her in the leg, then grabbed both women and shoved them aside. A second SEAL entered the room and shot bin Laden in the chest, and then in the head with his H&K 416 with Navy M855, 5.56 mm rounds. The SEAL radioed, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo,” and then, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.” (enemy killed in action). Watching the operation in the White House Situation Room (pictured below), President Obama said, “We got him.”
Ordering the Raid on Osama… Good Call!!
I remain very glad that our president , Barak O’Bama ordered the action that resulted in Bin Laden’s death. Whatever may have gone on by way of politicizing the event, the operation and the fact of his having ordered it are and shall remain points very much in President O’Bama’s favor. It did not vote for the man, but in this particular instance he definitely did the right thing, and he has my congratulations on that fact. Yes, there were facets of the intelligence gathering that made the operation possible that occurred under George W. Bush…. without which the operation would NOT have been possible. And yes, it was the bravery, skill, and fortitude of out Navy Seal teams which actually did the job that was necessary… and it WAS necessary… not just to get even, but to dispense justice to a creature who had dodged it for so long. But the president was sticking his neck out to no small degree by ordering this action, and in my opinion, it took significant courage for him to give the order to go ahead and kill this symbol of evil in the world. In the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“Congratulations America, congratulations, Mr. President, you got Bin Laden.. good riddance!!”
READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any “Today in History” posting, I would love to hear from you!! You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at: email@example.com I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I’m writing (or not!)!!