Verne Strickland BlogmasterPosted: May 02, 2011 2:17 AM EDT Updated: May 02, 2011 5:28 AM EDT
According to a conference call with reporters in which defense officials released a more detailed account of the operation, the 40-minute attack was carried out early Sunday morning by what the officials called a "small U.S. team" with at least two aircraft.
While the officials would not say if the team was composed of military or CIA operatives, CNN has identified the team members as U.S. Navy Seals.
Bin Laden resisted the assault force and was killed in a fire fight, according to Mike Vickers, under secretary of defense for intelligence.
Three adult males and one adult female were killed in the raid in Pakistan, Vickers said. The adult males were two al-Qaeda couriers and Bin Laden's eldest son. The female was being used as a human shield.
Two additional women were injured. All non-combatants, however, were moved safely away before the detonation.
While one U.S. helicopter was lost in the raid, no U.S. lives were lost, as a backup aircraft was in place.
The U.S. shared no information about the operation with any other country, Pakistan included. Only a small group of U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, knew about the intelligence operation before it was executed.
At the time of the attack, bin Laden was living on a security compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, which was valued at $1 million. Along with him were his eldest son, youngest wife and the two al-Qaeda couriers and their families.Reports that bin Laden was living in the Pakistani compound first surfaced in August 2010. The reports were deemed to have a sound intelligence basis for pursuit in February."The bottom line of our collection and our analysis was that we had confidence that the compound harbored a high-value terrorist target," said the CIA's Michael Morell.
In mid-March, the president began to chair national security council meetings on this issue. He conducted five meetings with the council beginning on March 14 and ending on April 28.
Intelligence officials followed the two couriers, who were brothers and were believed to have been well-connected with upper echelons of al-Qaeda's leadership.
The couriers led the officials to an "extraordinarily unique" compound built on a large plot of land in Islamabad in August 2010. The compound was built in 2005 on a secluded, narrow dirt road in the outskirts of the town.
The compound was eight times larger than the residential homes that came to surround it over the last six years. It was strongly secured and seemed to be hiding someone with significance, according to Morell.
The compound had walls 12- to 18-feet in height, which were topped with barbed wire. The main building on the compound was three stories in height and had a terrace on its top floor with a 7-foot privacy wall. The trash on the property was not dumped and rather burned. Although lavish in cost, the compound had no internet or TV and few windows.
All in all, the compound's location and design were consistent with the type experts believed would hide Bin Laden, Morell said.