WASHINGTON -- So a lot could have gone wrong as SEAL Team Six swept over Pakistan's dark landscape, dropped down ropes into a compound lined by wall after wall, exchanged gunfire and confronted"Geronimo" face to face. The important issues went correct. Just about just about every contingency the 25 commandos trained for came at them, swiftly, chaotically and dangerously, in their lunge for Osama bin Laden. They had acted on the top intelligence the U.S. had ever had on bin Laden's location since he slipped away inside the mountains of Tora Bora less than ten years ago. But it was guesswork, too, with the commandos' lives, a president's reputation and a nation's prestige riding on the end result. Was the man as soon as observed pacing the compound's courtyard truly bin Laden, as it seemed to American eyes? That is just 1 unknown. In brief, the U.S. had no direct proof that bin Laden could be there in the course of the strike - or indeed had ever been there. Obama put the ra iders in motion on the"pretty beneficial chance" they'd obtain their man, as CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was managing the operation in Washington, put it. Days immediately after the strike, the administration has fleshed out a reconstruction that is possibly a lot more accurate than its initial, flawed telling. A lot more data has been gleaned from the commandos themselves, now back at their house base outside Virginia Beach, Va. Some dust has settled. But there continues to be no independent or competing account to the administration's story as however. The reconstruction comes mainly from Panetta, White House spokesperson Jay Carney and Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Some of their earlier specifics proved unreliable. The only real other direct witnesses would be the compound's occupants, now in Pakistani custody and, for now, out of reach to everyone else. Details gaps exist within the official account. Amongst them: how numerous armed defenders the rai ders encountered, who shot at whom, why none of the compound's survivors was taken away by the Americans, and how a lot of commandos stormed bin Laden's room. It might never be recognized which commando, or two, killed bin Laden with shots to his head and chest. Story continues below Advertisement Advertisement The issue of specifically what the unarmed bin Laden did to prompt the SEALs to kill instead of capture him has not been settled. On the other hand, officials speaking anonymously told The Associated Press that bin Laden seemed to be lunging to get a weapon inside a bedroom that contained his hallmark AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons. Still, to many in government and intelligence circles, the procedure bore the hallmarks of a absolute kill assignment regardless of statements from authorities that bin Laden would have been taken alive if he had surrendered. On 1 point, even so, there has been no inconsistency, revision or challenge: The raiders of Team Six created good on their"pretty great chance" and got safely away in a bold mission accomplished. Late last week, Panetta got the word from the White Home that Obama was giving the green light for the raid. Other possibilities, which includes the notion of"just blowing the location up" from a B-2 bomber, had been discarded, he said. The president's order soon followed. Obama directed Panetta to continue under Title 50, meaning this would be a covert operation. Working control fell to Adm. William McRaven, head on the Joint Special Operations Command, who is stationed in Afghanistan. Panetta said:"My instructions to Admiral McRaven had been, `Admiral, go ahead and get bin Laden. In case he isn't there, get the hell out.'" Team Six was ready. Its members had rehearsed the assault numerous times - two or 3 instances per night in Afghanistan, Panetta said. The U.S. had a strong sense for a minimum of various months that bin Laden could possibly be at the compound, which People in the usa have been watching for months longer than that. Intelligence officials watched so carefully that they saw a family's clothes on the third floor terrace and, at one point, a male resembling bin Laden out in the courtyard, Panetta said. They surmised bin Laden and his"hidden family" resided on the second and third floors, since his dependable courier - who had unknowingly drawn the U.S. to the unlikely hideout - occupied the very first floor, with his brother in a guesthouse. When two Black Hawk helicopters carrying the commandos left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, stopping in Jalalabad before crossing over into Pakistan on their method to Abbottabad, the operation invited its 1st risk. Pakistani authorities, kept inside the dark about the U.S. mission in their territory, could spot the choppers and engage them. However the strong Pakistani military presence in Abbottabad, a garrison city having a military academy nearby the compound, provided a protective cover of sorts for the Americans. Nobody could be especially surprised to hear helicopters flying through the night. Getting to their target, the raiders abruptly needed to improvise. Their plan to place a rappelling crew on the roof having a second crew dropping in to the courtyard was jettisoned as soon as one of the choppers, its blades clawing at hot, too-thin air, needed to dropped hard. Both choppers landed inside the courtyard, behind 1 ring of walls with far more to go. That's just 1 of the split-second choices the SEALs had to make in the lair of al-Qaida's leader. Gunfire erupted, as the 25 commandos on the ground absolutely had expected and may well even have started. However the compound had also been populated with than 24 youngsters and women, according to the U.S. The raiders faced life-and-death calls - their very own lives and those of the compound's residents - about who was lethal and who was simply just in their way. That line had not been obvious. The SEALs went in with th e presumption that some of the people they came across may possibly be wearing explosive suicide vests. Back at the White House and at a CIA command center, officials which includes Obama had monitored the operation to this point, apparently on Tv monitors though the administration won't say. Special forces are generally outfitted with video. But once the strike force in fact entered the compound, Panetta said, 20 or 25 minutes elapsed when"we truly didn't know just exactly what was going on." A violent melee was going on, key details still largely a mystery. The raiders attempting to get into the home breached 3 or 4 walls, Panetta said, not specifying whether they scaled them or blew holes. On the 1st floor, the SEALs killed the courier and his brother, and the courier's wife died in crossfire. They shot open some doors. They then swept upstairs and broke into a third floor room, entering one at a time, said Carney. There all the U.S. intelligence, the surmising and also t he guesswork paid off. Bin Laden's spouse charged at the SEALs, crying her husband's name at 1 point. They shot her in the calf. Officials told AP that one SEAL grabbed a woman, fearing she could possibly be wearing a suicide vest, and pulled her away from his team. Whether or not that was bin Laden's wife has not been confirmed. Also within the room had been bin Laden and a son. The very first bullet struck bin Laden in the chest. The next hit above his left eye, blowing away part of his skull. It is not confirmed regardless of whether the shots came from one commando, two or in a spray of gunfire. The son was shot dead in that room, too. Soon after the nerve-wracking, nearly half-hour gap in facts from the scene, Washington got word that"Geronimo" was killed in action. The raiders' function was not accomplished. They promptly swept the compound, retrieving possibly vital information about the operations of al-Qaida. They destroyed the chopper that gave them problems. This restored issues that Pakistani authorities would find the objective ahead of time. Neighbors surely noticed. "We had to blow the helicopter," Panetta said,"and that possibly woke up a whole lot of individuals, including the Pakistanis." The non-combatants, their hands bound with plastic ties as the procedure unfolded, were left for Pakistani officials to round up. About 10 days prior to the raid, Obama was briefed on the plan. It included maintaining two backup helicopters just outside Pakistani airspace just in case some thing went wrong. But Obama felt that was risky. If the SEALs necessary assist, they couldn't afford to wait for backup. He explained the procedure needed a strategy in case the SEALs had to battle their way out. So a couple of Chinooks had been sent into Pakistani airspace, loaded with backup teams, just in case. One of those Chinooks landed inside the compound following the Black Hawk became inoperable. The raiders scrambled onboard the remainder Black Ha wk as well as a Chinook, bin Laden's body with them, and flew to the USS Carl Vinson within the North Arabian Sea. The ground operation had taken about 40 minutes. Only immediately after the Americans left the location was Pakistan advised of what had transpired on its territory. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen known as Pakistani Army chief Ashfaq Kayani to tell him that the operation he had not identified about was complete, a U.S. official told AP. Panetta called his Pakistani counterpart soon after. Only hours immediately after the operation, before most of the world knew bin Laden was discovered and killed, his body was buried on the ocean.
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