Much more of the story behind Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan trickled out Monday night.
It was learned that a Kuwaiti courier led the U.S. to bin Laden’s doorstep.
The White House released information that Geronimo was the code name given to bin Laden for the operation, naming him after the elusive 19th Century Apache leader, who was rumored to be able to walk without leaving any tracks.
President Obama and his advisers had gathered in the Situation Room of the White House Sunday to monitor the operation as it unfolded.
When a Navy SEAL outside of Islamabad said the words “Geronimo EKIA” – meaning enemy killed in action – the Situation Room knew bin Laden was dead.
“We got him,” Obama said.
Details about bin Laden’s hideout and how the Navy SEALs got in also emerged. It turns out the three-story “mansion” had no Internet, no telephone, and could not put out the trash. It was surrounded by barbed wire.
To conduct the operation, the Navy SEALs were dropped by helicopter outside the compound, and had to scale the walls to get inside. One helicopter even crashed into a wall, but no one was hurt. The commandos killed a few inside the compound and then went upstairs to hunt Bin Laden himself, who died from just one bullet.
A Virginia Beach community where the Navy SEALs were based would like to congratulate the commandos, but can’t because the SEALs’ existence is shrouded in complete secrecy.
This much we do know: “Their ethos is captured by slogans such as ‘failure is not an option’ and ‘pain is weakness leaving the body,’ a former active duty SEAL told The Washington Post.
But even as the mood of congratulations persists, suspicion is rising over how much knowledge Pakistani officials had of bin Laden’s presence in their country.
The Washington Post’s Karin Brulliard and Karen DeYoung report:
Even in a neighborhood of roomy modern residences, the three-story white house stood out. The home, down the street from an elite Pakistani military academy, was eight times as large as others nearby. Its razor-wire-topped walls were higher. Its occupants acted mysteriously, neighbors said, burning trash rather than placing it outside.
So could Pakistan really not been aware of bin Laden’s existence just outside Islamabad?
“Either we’re dealing with an extraordinarily incompetent military and army and intelligence agency, or at some level they were complicit,” Shaun Gregory, Pakistan scholar at the University of Bradford, told the Washington Post.
Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, however, writes in an op-ed in the Post that he has fully supported the search for bin Laden, and that the war on terrorism is “as much Pakistan’s war as it is America’s.”
Around the world, the responses to bin Laden’s death have continued to be mixed. New Yorkers, who remember 9/11 all too well, are taking grim satisfaaction in his death. In the Middle East, people increasingly disenchanted by al-Qaeda and protesters concerned with their fights for democracy, had a muted reaction.
Meanwhile, the White House has photos of bin Laden’s body, and officials are debating whether or not to release them. They’re reportedly pretty gruesome. We’ll keep you posted.