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CNN BREAKING NEWS
More Details of the Killing of Osama bin Laden
Aired May 2, 2011 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello. Live from CNN center, I'm John Vause.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Rosemary Church. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and right around the world.
VAUSE: You're watching CNN continuing coverage of the news out of Pakistan that Osama bin Laden has been killed by American forces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda's terror, justice has been done.
Tonight we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work nor know their names, but tonight they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: It was a speech of major importance and minimal fanfare delivered at about 11:30 p.m. Washington time here on Sunday. And American juice, bin Laden is dead. And we will give you a chance to see and hear more of President Obama's speech later this hour.
VAUSE: Rosemary, nine years later, seven months and 20 days after the events of 9/11, it's the moment Americans have longed for since their darkest hour. As President Obama announced the news, cheering crowds outside the White House echoed the significance of his statement.
CHURCH: That's right. And we brought you those pictures.
The president said bin Laden was killed in a firefight in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, northeast of the capital Islamabad. And the footage you are watching now shows the aftermath of that attack.
Bin Laden's death bringing, of course, justice to thousands of people affected by the September 11th attacks but Mr. Obama stressed that the fight against al Qaeda continues. This is not an end by any means and many will question whether a movement that has lost its leader could find new momentum.
VAUSE: Let's show you in a bit more detail where that shoot-out happened. For some time now officials have suspected that America's most wanted man was sheltering -- had been sheltered by followers in Pakistan, rather. But those suspicions were confirmed.
The actual place he was found in is still surprising. It was a mansion in the city of Abbottabad. It's 120 meters northeast of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. It's a long way from the mountains of Waziristan which had been bombarded by repeated U.S. drone strike over recent years.
CHURCH: Well, New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg says he hopes bin Laden's death brings closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11th, 2001.
Jason Carroll is at Ground Zero now and joins us live.
Jason, that is certainly the word we've been hearing from people there at Ground Zero. The world "closure" continually.
Jason, we are actually live now, if you can hear us.
Jason there at Ground Zero, what are people saying?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I -- yes, now I can hear you now. It's -- you know, it gets noisy as we're down here, but I can tell you all night long so many people started to come down that basically the police have decided to move the crowd back a little further and put them in a little section as more and more people start to come down here. That way they can keep the people under control.
But still some of the guys decided to come on over and talk to us anyway. All these gentlemen here are firefighters who've been here for a few hours obviously all riled up about what's happened.
So give me a sense. Obviously you guys are happy about what's happened down here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.
CARROLL: Give me a sense of how you're feeling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unbelievable. It's the greatest feeling in the world. America. This is -- they burned our flags in the street when they've knocked down our towers down and they were celebrating us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we're here, baby.
CARROLL: Obviously a lot of firefighters lost their lives almost 10 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 343.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 343.
CARROLL: This is got to be, you know, in some ways a bittersweet kind of moment for you guys as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is unbelievable, man. Unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a moment of justice right now.
CARROLL: I'm sorry. What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a moment of justice. This is when their families who didn't -- and grew without fathers, they finally get their moment of justice.
CARROLL: Is that how you're feeling as well for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
CARROLL: Because I think a lot of people are also thinking this is a day that might not ever come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad it's here. And you know what? Everybody in America was waiting for this day. And you know what? We all feel the same way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took so long --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.
CARROLL: It took 10 years to happen. It took so long. But the fact that it happened today, we're all rejoicing for that fact. For all the families that happened for that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're all together. We're all together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America.
CARROLL: I think a lot of people in America, throughout the country, whoever's watching this are obviously supporting you and for what you've done on -- and continue to do for the city. So thanks a lot. Thanks for coming by. Appreciate you --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody out there, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA!
CARROLL: So you can see a lot of people celebrating, still feeling good about what's happening out here. And again, the police have decided to move the crowds back beyond in a pen so they can keep the situation a little bit more under control as the celebrations continue down here at Ground Zero.
Back to you.
CHURCH: All right. Jason Carroll, thanks so much that.
VAUSE: Rosemary, it's been just a few hours since Mr. Obama announced that U.S. forces had gotten their most wanted man. So what we know about the circumstances of bin Laden's death and the reaction since then, CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is live in Washington with more on that.
And, first, Jeanne, they've really stepped up security around the United States in the hours since we found out that bin Laden was killed.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have heard some anecdotal evidence that yes, security has been increased in places like New York where a police official tells me you will see a more visible police presence in people -- in places like Times Square, Penn Station, on various transportation lines and hubs.
In Philadelphia, we know that they have also taken increased steps to patrol around synagogues and mosques, the police chief, they're saying that those patrols will be done on an hourly basis, something far above what's usually done.
The Department of Homeland Security is not saying anything specific about actions that they are taking at this point in time except to say that there is security both seen and unseen going on all across the country.
No indication at this point that there's been any increase in the terror threat level here in the U.S. But they have always said that that would be based on specific intelligence and at this point in time, what we're hearing from officials is they do not have that kind of threat information.
They wouldn't be surprised if they did get threats for retaliation, but at this point in time they don't have the intelligence. They are looking for it. You can be assured that U.S. intelligence agencies and those of our allies overseas are on full alert in these hours after the revelation of bin Laden's death, that they are monitoring communications, they are monitoring movements, looking for anything or anyone that might be suspicious.
Here in the United States there's always been concern that bin Laden might have dispatched operatives to this country and that they may have blended into the community. It may not be obvious that they are sleeper cells and that perhaps his death would be a trigger for them to take action.
So I am told it is very likely that the intelligence agencies and law enforcement across the country are zeroing in on people who have crossed their radar to see if they detect anything out of the normal. In addition of course, they'd be looking for anything new and different which may raise suspicion.
I'm sure the U.S. is going to be spreading the word to its citizens in the next couple of days. If you see something, say something, a number of the terror plots that have been disrupted recently have been disrupted because the public has seen something that has raised an alarm bell and they've transmitted it to officials. So we can expect that that will be part of the messaging, I think, in the next couple of days -- John.
VAUSE: And Jeanne, very quickly, you had some information about what they plan, what they've already done with Osama bin Laden's body.
MESERVE: Yes, according to a U.S. official they have already disposed of his body. It was disposed of at sea, we're told, in accordance with Islamist tradition and laws. The White House officials had said from the outset that they were very sure, they were going to be observing the particulars of Islamic tradition. They have done so and we are told that they have disposed of him at sea. No further elaboration from U.S. officials on that, though -- John.
VAUSE: OK. Jeanne Meserve, live for us in Washington at this very late hour. We appreciate it. Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, we know that U.S. Navy SEALs were involved in the attack that killed bin Laden. But what's not clear -- at least at the moment -- is the degree of involvement from Pakistan where the attack took place.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing helicopters dropped Special Forces into this compound. Now I need to explain I think what that means in terms of how much the Pakistani government would have had to know about this operation.
Obviously to send helicopters that far into Pakistani territory, they would come up on Pakistani radar at some point. Pakistani officials are insisting that they had prior knowledge of this operation and the Pakistani intelligence operatives were on the ground during that , although that seems to be denied by American officials.
So a definite conflict of opinion there as to who actually was involved on the ground. One Pakistani senior intelligence official saying he did not know who actually pulled the trigger although it seems to be clear there were American Special Forces involved.
Pictures on local television showing a fire in -- at the area around there. It's not clear if that is the precisely compound where the attack happened. But it's also key to point out this happened in a busy town, in a busy city.
Previously al Qaeda and militant insurgents here have all been thought to been hiding in the tribal areas where U.S. drones could them pick them off one by one. But there have been a trend recently for Talibans have moved in to Karachi, for example, in south. Big bustling populations such as where it's easier to hide yourself.
And it does appear obviously that bin laden had a similar tactic, hiding himself out in Abbottabad.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And this was the scene outside the White House as news of Osama bin Laden's death managed to make its way out. Hundreds if not thousands gathered as word spread that the most hated and wanted man in the U.S. had been killed by U.S. Special Forces.
There was jubilation. People waved a flag. They sung the national anthem. As you can hear, they chanted "USA".
CHURCH: Indeed some very happy people there. A lot of them experiencing closure, what we're hearing constantly over and over in the past few hours.
And of course, the man America most wanted is dead after a nine-year hunt. Senior White House officials have shared some details of the operation.
As we were hearing just a minute ago, the word from Washington is that they told no one of their plans but Pakistani intelligence officials are saying they were involved in preparation for the raid on the mansion in Abbottabad.
What we do know is that the mission lasted about 40 minutes. U.S. officials say that aside from bin Laden, four other people were killed including a woman. She was being used as a human shield at the time.
A U.S. helicopter crashed during that raid apparently due to mechanical failure but we are told no U.S. personnel were killed or injured.
Well, the U.S. has for several years regarded Pakistan as the most likely place that Osama bin Laden could be hiding.
Our Fred Pleitgen has more on the country that's been the focus of the hunt. He's currently in Libya where s he joins us from Tripoli -- Fred.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary.
And certainly the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, is going to have a lot of explaining to do as to why Osama bin Laden was able to hide in Abbottabad for such a very long time. Because keep in mind, this is in a very densely populated area. And you know, one of the interesting thing that happened when I was in Pakistan the last time which is September and October of 2010, is that there was a report that came out which is simply quoting an unnamed NATO official saying that the notion that Osama bin Laden was hiding in some cave was one that was simply not true.
And the report back then said that it's highly more likely that Osama bin Laden would be living quite comfortably in a house and also that his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri would probably be living somewhere close by. Now back then at that time it was very much unclear where those places could be where Osama bin Laden was hiding. However the source back then said that he was probably protected by local tribal officials and also maybe by rogue elements as they said of the director for Inter- Services Intelligence, the ISI, which is of course the massive intelligence of the country of Pakistan which many believe is obviously very influential in that country and some believe is even de facto running that country.
But it certainly is a very powerful -- and a very well run operation at that. So it's very, very difficult to believe that the Pakistani intelligence service would not know if bin Laden would be hiding in a place like Abbottabad. That is so big, that is so bustling. And in a country where everybody knows their neighbor and -- it would be very difficult to hide if bin Laden was living next door to you.
But certainly those were the indications that were -- that were coming out in September and October of last year, which is interesting because the president obviously came out and said that in August of 2010 he got the first indications that bin Laden -- that they might found at least a trace of where bin Laden might be.
And of course, the other interesting thing is that he's not in those very secluded tribal areas, on the border with Afghanistan, but really right in the heart of Pakistan -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: How do you explain this when we're hearing that Pakistani intelligence is saying they were involved in the planning of this raid on the mansion. Of course, Washington saying they told no one of these plans. What -- explain that us to. What is perhaps going on there?
PLEITGEN: Well, I mean one of the things that could be going on there is that the Pakistani intelligence service might be trying to save face in light of the fact that the U.S. officials might not have told them anything about this raid.
But one of the things that we were certainly observing last year, and especially since President Obama decided to shift the focus of American counterterrorism and really foreign policy of things from Iraq to Afghanistan, and also to the Pakistan region.
Remember, that was one of the big steps that Obama took very early in his presidency where he said we have to take the focus away from Iraq, go to Afghanistan and Pakistan would be one of the other main areas of focus.
What you have then subsequently was the big increase in the use of drones in the tribal areas in Pakistan. That's something that the Pakistani intelligence service -- in fact it was heavily criticized by the Pakistani government, by Pakistani officials a lot of times. And so that was something we read (ph) that there might have been something like a rift between the U.S. and the Pakistani intelligence service, and perhaps even the Pakistan government, as regards to counterterrorism efforts. And of course also to the efforts at finding bin Laden -- Rosemary. CHURCH: All right. Our Fred Pleitgen reporting there from Tripoli in Libya. Thanks so much for that -- John.
VAUSE: Well, Mr. Obama made the announcement of bin Laden's death shortly before midnight on Sunday here in the United States. Let's hear some more of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Good evening.
Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory. Hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky. The Twin Towers collapsing to the ground. Black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon. The wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child's embrace.
Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11th, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other and our love of community and country.
On that day, no matter where we came from, what god we prayed to or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family. We were also united in our resolve, to protect our nation and to -- to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.
We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda, an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda, to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort. We've disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.
In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
Yet, Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda. Even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat his network.
Then last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. 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.
And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.
After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The U.S. president five hours ago, announcing the death of Osama bin Laden.
And former U.S. president George W. Bush had made it America's mission to hold bin Laden responsible for 9/11. Here's what he said in 2001 before triggering the attack on those who were sheltering him in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Osama bin Laden is just one person. He's a representative of networks of people who absolutely have made their cause to defeat the freedoms that we -- that we understand and we will not allow him to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you want bin Laden dead?
BUSH: I want him -- I want justice. And there's an old poster out west, as I recall, that says, "Wanted, Dead or Alive."
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, after hearing of bin Laden's death from President Obama, Bush issued a statement saying, "This momentous 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."
He goes on to say, "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message. To matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Former president George W. Bush there.
We're going to take a very short break here on CNN's coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden. Do stay with us.
CHURCH: Just listen to that. Chants all across there. That's the sound of baseball fans s shouting USA in case you hadn't heard, as words spread that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces in Pakistan. These pictures taken as the Mets took on the Phillies in Philadelphia Sunday night. So the word is spreading right across the U.S. and across the globe.
VAUSE: The most wanted man on the planet was also one of the most reviled. Osama bin Laden is now dead but his life was defined by terror.
It all began in 1988 when he founded al Qaeda but the group did not become a terror network until 1991. The next year bin Laden allegedly sent some of his followers to Somalia to fight U.S. troops. In late February 1993 a bomb exploded at New York's World Trade Center. Bin Laden was named as a co-conspirator but not indicted.
In 1996 he declared a holy war against U.S. forces. Two years later he was charged with 224 counts of murder after bombing U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In 1999 he appeared on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" fugitives list for the first time.
Bin Laden was linked to the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors died in that attack.
And then the day that secured his notoriety, September 11th, 2001, when four U.S. airliners were hijacked and more than 3,000 people were killed.
CHURCH: Now bin Laden's reign as terror leader will indeed live in infamy, but what does his demise mean for al Qaeda?
And CNN's terror analyst Paul Cruickshank Shank explored that with our Wolf Blitzer. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: This is an enormous breakthrough against al Qaeda. Bin Laden, even after 9/11 was a strategic guiding force of the al Qaeda organization and the al Qaeda movement around the world. And he is literally irreplaceable to al Qaeda. No one has his charisma within the al Qaeda organization. So this is a very important moment in the war against al Qaeda, Wolf, with bin Laden now being killed. He will, of course, be a martyr figure, but he was much more important to al Qaeda alive than dead. He was inspiring recruits to join the organization. He was inspiring people as well who never even joined al Qaeda to launch attacks around the world.
People literally would go to Pakistan or Afghanistan because they wanted to meet bin Laden, be part of his organization, and he is no longer there.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, the world has had time to absorb this. We want to take a look now at how newspapers all across the world are handling this story.
Now Zain Verjee joins us live from London.
Zain, what do you think?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary.
"The New York Times" has this headline. "Bin Laden killed by U.S. Forces in Pakistan." It says what remains to be seen is whether bin Laden's death galvanizes his followers by turning him into a martyr or whether the death serves as a turning page in the war in Afghanistan.
Take a look at what the "Wall Street Journal" is saying. Its headline says, "Bin Laden's Death, the Relief in Mideast," but uncertainty remains. "It's unclear what impact if any Mr. bin Laden's death will have on this local branch's activities or membership. All right in the Arabian Peninsula is so dangerous in part because it appears to be organizing and plotting attacks independent of command and control from Mr. bin Laden.
Take a look at what the UK's "Telegraph" is saying. "The butcher of 9/11 is dead. The killing of Osama bin Laden is a massive blow to Islamic terrorism." It goes on to say, "There can be no doubt that this is a massive blow to the al Qaeda network but there can be no room for complacency."
And then finally, take a look at the "Baltimore Sun." One word, Rosemary. "Dead." "The Saudi born extremist, it goes on to say, was killed in Pakistan and his body recovered. Having that body may convince any doubters that bin Laden is really dead."
Though I just want to point out, too, that a U.S. official has told CNN that his body has already been buried at sea -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes. Incredible. We have been hearing that. Thanks so much. Zain Verjee reporting there from London.
VAUSE: So much print already used, reporting on bin Laden since 9/11 and so many pages dedicated to this one man and what he has done. And -- CHURCH: And this is the final chapter.
VAUSE: Well, I think this is coming to the end of the final chapter.
CHURCH: For him.
VAUSE: Yes. There is --
CHURCH: So we'll see what happens after that.
VAUSE: There is too much more to be written about bin Laden.
CHURCH: Indeed. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back right after.
CHURCH: You join us five hours after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the news that America waited nearly a decade to hear. Terrorist Osama bin Laden has been found and killed.
The al Qaeda leader evaded U.S. forces for 9.5 years since the 9/11 attacks. He was originally hunted in the Tora Bora caves of Afghanistan. Drone strikes have continually sought to flush out bin Laden and his followers in the mountains of , across the border in Pakistan.
But intelligence tracked him down to somewhere far more comfortable. This is the compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad where the terrorist mastermind was shot dead. The pictures show the house engulfed in flames after a 40-minute battle in which four others were reportedly killed.
VAUSE: Now CNN's John King joined Wolf Blitzer earlier to show us step by step how and where the operation went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: How many times over the last ten years have the Pakistani government officials told us, no, Osama bin Laden is here in Afghanistan? How many times did the Afghanistan officials tell us no, he is somewhere here, Waziristan, perhaps, in the mountainous regions.
It turns out tonight -- let's take a closer look. And we'll we measure it out for you as we zoom in. It turns out where was he? About 120 miles east of the Afghanistan border. Waziristan one of the places, the tribal regions where it was so often Osama bin Laden is probably hiding here.
Instead, no, 120 miles to the east, 30 miles north of Islamabad. Let's take a closer look at this town, Abbottabad. We'll take a closer look s we come in. You see somewhere in the ballpark of a million people. You see it's pretty highly developed here, a lotto f tight, very closely in residential areas. You come up here and you look up here, a lot of educational institutions here. I want to bring you in on a location here. This is where we are told tonight -- somewhere right in this area here people are saying is where this played out.
You see a large complex here. You see other large complexes here. You see a lot of buildings here, walled off areas, residential complexes within, walled off big complex here.
Then Chris Lawrence was just saying they were worried about civilian casualties because of other development around. This is one of the places we are told to look tonight. We don't have an exact location yet.
But this is the area. I want to shrink this down a little bit, just show you -- again, bring up the terrain of this town. It's in a mountain valley. You see here around the outskirts -- there are mountains around the outskirts. You come into the valley.
It's a city of about a million people. Again, look at this highly dense population up in here, Wolf. But as we look in on this here, not in the mountains. Not in Afghanistan. Not in a cave in Waziristan, but in a very highly developed, highly populated area, we are told, is where this special operation played out.
It would be fascinating to get more of the details on just how they did this. But you can see right in here if the Seals went into an area like this, what a high steaks, high risk operation to capture and ultimately to kill Osama bin Laden.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If they go in by helicopter and come down on ropes from the helicopter, you can only imagine how vulnerable those Navy Seals might have been.
John, Go back and show us the big pictures, because I want our viewers to get a sense of how far from the Afghan border -- the U.S. has a lot of military personnel, more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan right now.
If those helicopters did, in fact, come from a U.S. base in Afghanistan, they would have had a nice journey there. Give us the big picture one again.
KING: Absolutely. U.S. Military installations on this side of border in Afghanistan, again, for the past ten years as we've asked the question of presidents, of CIA directors, of anybody in the United States government, and of people in the Afghan and Pakistan governments, where is Osama bin Laden.
The answer has usually been somewhere in this ballpark here. U.S. military installations here. You mentioned 100,000 plus troops. The president himself -- we are now told by sources -- launching this operation, not telling the government of Pakistan, only telling them after the operation took place.
U.S. base is here, coming across the border. Again, let's measure out exactly what we're talking about. As you watch, you zoom in here and you come and then we get the measure. You see exactly what we're talking about, 120 miles once they came over the border, Wolf, 120 miles in, 30 miles north of the capital of Pakistan, right in here.
Again, for years we have focused over here, the tribal areas, the cave areas, the ungovernable areas of Pakistan. But instead, it turns out Osama bin Laden was living in large city. This is not a suburb. This is a city of about a million people.
When you come in to it here, and you come in and you see how densely populated it is. A very different kind of operation that for years people have talked about, finding bin Laden in a cave, finding bin Laden in a remote area, finding bin Laden protected by tribes up in the hills.
No, in fact, it terns out bin Laden was hiding in a very densely populated area. Again, we are told to look at a complex something like this, somewhere in this ballpark over here, we are told tonight, one of the focus of the operations.
You can see some of the walls. You can see large space. But you can also see all around it -- all around it densely populated areas, which shows you the risks that any of the elite force that went in looking for him -- not only risks of the fire fight that we know took place, but risk of civilian casualties.
And again a very bold decision by the president of the United States to launch this operation and tell the Pakistani government after the fact that U.S. special forces were right here on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: John King there, just a few hours ago, in fact. And Osama bin Laden's death may provide some closure for those who lost loved ones on September 11th. Steve Bernstein lost his older brother that day. He lives in Hong Kong and joins us now from there.
Thank you so much for talking with us. No doubt an incredible day. And you're no doubt filled with mixed emotions. Do share with us what you first thought and felt when you heard this news.
STEVE BERNSTEIN, BROTHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: Well, when I first heard that Obama was going to make an announcement, I obviously thought it was bad news and then heard the news about bin Laden and I felt like my brother could finally rest in peace.
I know a lot of victims' families feel the same way. It's been such a hard -- almost the ten-year anniversary of the incident. And I think we've been weight for this for a long time.
CHURCH: Tell us the death of your brother? What were the circumstances? Where was he exactly?
BERNSTEIN: He worked at Canter Fitzgerald. He was on the 105th floor of the first tower. We never heard from him. Some people on that floor made cell phone calls from their loved ones. We didn't hear form him.
His twin brother -- my family has two sets of twins. And this is the older set. And his twin brother actually dropped him off that morning, was in the World Trade Center as well, went to the bank. And then he left. And about ten minutes later, he turned around when he heard the explosion, because he walking up town and he saw it.
He said as soon as he saw it, he knew. But it was -- it's before very hard on the whole family.
CHURCH: Indeed. And, of course, Steve, as you're talking about your brother, we're looking at the many pictures you have shared with us of him. And so let's just go back to that original feeling, of course, when you hear this news.
And for you, of course, you're feeling a sense of closure. Do you feel that will be the same for most people who have lost a loved one?
BERNSTEIN: I think so. I was very elated when I heard the news. I watched TV for the past few hours. I watched CNN and just felt that it was just a great moment for the country.
You know, you see all the people outside the White House really celebrating not so much somebody's death but the fact that this has been brought to justice. It's been so long and not everyone in the country always agrees on some of the places in the world that we've been in military conflicts.
But I think everybody feels that capturing bin Laden or killing bin LAden was something that needed to be done.
CHURCH: Are you concerned at all that this may not actually be the closing of a chapter, that this could increase the difficulties for people, the dangers for people right across the globe, traveling, and whatever al Qaeda has up its sleeve in the days ahead?
BERNSTEIN: I don't think so, because they lost their leader and it seemed like he was the real crux of it. Obviously there's going to be lower people trying to take his place. I think he was the real force behind it.
And I think since 9/11, we've all had to chance the way we live and travel and work. I think the world's going to be like that for quite some time. But I think gettin -- having him eliminated shows the strength of America and the strength our allies, and that we're not going to put up with it. So it may make them -- terrorists think twice.
CHURCH: And, Steve, what did you thing of President Obama's speech. It had been delayed for a while. We had been expecting it. And then it took some -- it was about an hour after the time we were originally told. Clearly he needed to rewrite sections of that speech, as all the information was pretty much leaked out by then.
What was your view of what he said to the nation and, indeed, the world? BERNSTEIN: Well, I think it -- obviously, when you make an announcement of that magnitude, he's got let, you know, obviously former presidents know, because they were involved in this. He's got to let the rest of Congress know. He's probably got to let Pakistan and Afghanistan, world leaders know about it, at the same time he's telling it to the nation.
So I'm sure his team had a lot of preparation to do. Whether he was rewriting the speech or just making these calls, I'm sure he had to be prepared for it. But it was worth the wait.
CHURCH: We're also -- we've been getting word that the body of Osama bin Laden has already been buried at sea. What's your reaction to that?
BERNSTEIN: I was a bit surprised by that, because you get all these conspiracy theorists. And they say, where is his body. How come we haven't seen it, and this and that? I was a little surprised that they took care of it so quickly. But I'm sure that the photographs and I'm sure the confirmation of him being dead is true.
But I was a little surprised that they took that action.
CHURCH: And, of course, not the whole world is celebrating. And you would realize that. But when you look at the scene, the live pictures we've been showing, of people rejoicing in front of the White House, Ground Zero and elsewhere, what's your response? What do you feel?
BERNSTEIN: I think the only people not celebrating are probably terrorists. And that's going to be what it's going to be. But I think the world is probably breathing a sigh of relief.
I think the world was waiting for this. It took a lot longer than we expected. We as a country probably expected to get in there quickly and have it done right after 9/11. And it's taken almost ten years.
So I think the world can feel a bit safer right now.
VAUSE: All right, Steve Bernstein, talking to us there from Hong Kong, who lost his older brother on 9/11 back in 2011. Thank you so much for speaking with us on such a delicate and difficult topic for you. Appreciate it.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
CHURCH: Another 40 of the people who died on September 111th were the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. It crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers overpowered the hijackers..
VAUSE: Nobody on board survived and the plane never reached its intended target.
CHURCH: The organization representing the victims of Flight 93 has released a statement saying this: "this is important news for us and for the world. It cannot ease our pain or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."
VAUSE: Of course, the other side of this equation is the Islamic community here in the United States and around the world. A statement was put out by the Council on American and Islamic Relations welcoming the news that Osama bin Laden was killed, saying that he was a threat to the nation and the world. He's now been eliminated.
For more on this, let's go now to Ted Rowlands, who is gauging reaction from the Muslim American community. He joins us now from just outside Los Angeles. And, Ted, what are they saying to you there?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we're in Orange County, an Arab American community. We're at a hookah lounge. It's almost 2:00 in the morning here, so not a lot of people here, but there are some people.
And we have been talking to people all evening long. Obviously the reaction has been positive. People are very pleased about it.
Leila (ph) is a Persian-American. Leila, give it to me. What is your reaction to Osama bin Laden being killed?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're elated that someone who's the biggest symbol of terrorism is finally gone now. And I can't wait to see his picture, to be honest with you, because we've been waiting for this moment for a long time, a long time.
VAUSE: One of the things, John, that we have heard throughout the evening is proof. People want proof, because they just honestly don't believe it.
Another thing we found out first hand, which is really remarkable, is that there is some animosity within the community here. While we were out here about 90 minutes ago, there was a group of people outside here. And they were egged.
So someone came by knowing that there were Arrab-Americans and egged the establishment.
Mohamed here is the establishment over. He got hit. You can see it in these shirt right there. He was actually hit in the neck by an egg.
You served in the American armed forces. Give us your sense, first of all, your reaction to bin Laden dying, and then your reaction to the fact that people came by here on this evening and actually egged your establishment and egged you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First of all, Osama bin Laden dying, good job, U.S. Army, Marines, everybody, Obama. We're very happy he's dead. It's over with. We're very proud of you guys. And thank you guys for your service and your time.
ROWLANDS: What does it do -- talk about your community here. You said earlier that since 9/11, it's been tough for your community. You were been egged tonight here.
Does this help. Do you think this the beginning of the end of discrimination in America or no? Is this an ongoing thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be an ongoing thing as long as you have a lot of the biased media and ignorant people out here. The more people that get to know us, the more they love us and get to know us, because we're just like them. We're just Americans like them.
We come here. We work. And we try every day to survive. You know?
Hopefully this brings a little closure to most of the community that Osama's dead. You know what I'm saying? We're not part of him. We're happy that he's dead. We're happy that he's gone. Closure for everybody.
ROWLANDS: Thanks, Mohammed. Fascinating, John, the fact that we were here when the eggs were thrown, and the reaction from this community. It's all been positive. But again, like you heard from that other interview, people want proof. There's some skepticism as well in this area, but, by and large, as you might imagine, a lot of relief as well.
VAUSE: Ted, the animosity towards the Islamic community in the United Sates has been ongoing and building ever since 9/11. We've heard from the U.S. president specifically saying that bin Laden wasn't a Muslim leader. We've heard time and time again from former President George W. Bush saying that this was not a war on Islam.
Do any of those words help when American Muslims hear presidents talk like that?
ROWLANDS: Well, you know, you would think so. But we saw it first hand. Ninety minutes ago, literally, people were out here enjoying themselves, celebrating this news, and people drove by and threw eggs at them as they sat here.
So your guess is as good as anybody's. When will that stop, despite the reassurance by leaders around the world, trying to differentiate. That's what Mohammed was saying, this is one step, because they feel like bin Laden was attached to them unfairly.
Maybe it will change. Maybe it won't. They're -- living in America, you know there is some deep seeded racism and it comes out in this way. We saw it first hand tonight.
VAUSE: Ted, we appreciate that. Ted Rowlands reporting live for us just outside Los Angeles, Orange County, on the reaction there for -- with some within the Islamic community. Thank you, Ted.
We're going to take a short break now, but stay with CNN. You're watching our continuing coverage of the death of Osama bin Laden.
CHURCH: Well, you know, this was the scene at West Point Military Academy in New York late last night, as cadets there celebrated the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. We have seen those scenes in New York York, at Ground Zero as well and at the White House.
VAUSE: I was at West Point a couple days after 9/11. So very, very different scenes tonight than they were back then. There were many people signing up. And many of those people graduating knew that they were heading off to Afghanistan.
So obviously very jubilant scenes there right now.
We're still learning a lot more about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. But many people are also curious about his compound in Pakistan. Journalist Omar Waraich has just arrived at Abbottabad. He's with "Time Magazine." We should also mention that is the same parent company as CNN.
Omar, you're in that city of a million people. You're heading towards the compound. Just describe to us, what are you actually seeing right now?
OMAR WARAICH, JOURNALIST: Well, the actual compound itself has been cordoned off by the army. This happened apparently before the raid last night. Right now, the only traffic allowed through are the army officers or residents themselves.
This is -- it's a quiet garrison town. You mentioned West Point Academy there earlier. This is home to Pakistan's West Point Academy, Kakul (ph), where Pakistani Army officers are trained. The rest of the town is actually going about its own business.
Some shops are closed. There seems to be traffic around, school children walking about. Having spoken to people, they seems to be expressing total bewilderment that something like this could happen in this sleepy town where such things are -- where even hearing a helicopter is highly unusual. . VAUSE: Omar, you say that the Pakistani security forces have deployed around the compound. They have a checkpoint preventing you from getting there. Who said that they were actually in place before the raid happened? Are you getting that from residents or the officials telling you that?
WARAICH: It's the local army officers there who are saying that had cordoned this off since last night. The residents themselves I have spoke to who have heard this, people who lived across a radius of about six or seven kilometers.
They said that they heard helicopters last night. Then they heard a loud blast, something that was very unusual. One resident said it reminded him of something quite intense like a suicide bomber. But they didn't hear any sirens afterwards. There was movement of very fast cars passing through the streets at the time, and then the sounds of helicopters leaving.
This is what the residents here have told me that they heard last night.
VAUSE: And did anybody in that town have any idea who the famous resident was?
WARAICH: No. They were completely bewildered by it. Some residents are in total denial that such a thing could happened. Like I said, this is generally a small town. It's a small Pakistan city or town. It's not densely populated. It's not known for many things.
The irony is that it's also a garrison and military base, and like I said, a military academy. but the idea that bin Laden was hiding here, where there are security installations nearby. There is a military presence -- the fact that he went unnoticed for all this time is something that seems truly shocking to people here.
VAUSE: There is actually a great deal of love among some Pakistanis for bin Laden. So I'm curious if you managed to speak to people there to gauge their reaction about his death?
WARAICH: Yes, there have been a series of opinion polls in the past which have registered high amounts of support for Osama bin Laden. Principally this is sort of an anti-American sentiment, who have seen him as some sort of icon in that regard.
However, attitudes towards terrorism and militancy have come a long way in Pakistan, where when Pakistani have been suffering these attacks themselves, there's a great deal of hostility that's risen.
So far, we've not seen any public support in the country manifest itself. Some people speculated that we may see large rallies. These would be seen in the port city of Karachi, the largest city. They've yet to be seen right now. That could change later in the day. But we haven't seen anything yet.
The Pakistani government itself insisted on the -- its own reaction, saying that they are relieved to see someone who was involved in spreading terrorism here in Pakistan gotten rid of, and that Pakistanis have suffered up to 30,000 lives as a result of it.
VAUSE: OK, Omar Waraich, thank you very much, from "Time Magazine," on the line for us there from the town of Abbottabad, which is where Osama bin Laden was shot dead in the head by U.S. special forces.
Thank you Omar. The United states is bracing for potential retaliation from al Qaeda forces. The U.S. State Department is asking all Americans living overseas or planning to travel to be aware of possible violence against them following bin Laden's death.
They're being urged to limit travel and avoid mass gatherings until the alert expires on August 1st. U.S. citizens overseas can sign up for emergency updates by heading to Travel.State.Gov.
We're going to take a short break.
CHURCH: We will. Do stay with us. Our coverage will continue from here.