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He is now a consultant for the CIA. In October, Obama was briefed on the intelligence. His response was cautious, the retired official said. It was just too crazy.

They believed they would get this if they got DNA evidence, and if they could assure him that a night assault of the compound would carry no risk. The bin Laden compound was less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy, and a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters was another mile or so away. Obama was anxious for reassurance that the US was going to get the right man.

The planners turned for help to Kayani and Pasha, who asked Aziz to obtain the specimens. Bargaining continued over the way the mission would be executed. You have to come in lean and mean.

What are the defences inside the compound and its exact dimensions? How many steps in the stairway? Where are the doors to his rooms, and are they reinforced with steel? How thick? By then, the military had constructed a mock-up of the compound in Abbottabad at a secret former nuclear test site in Nevada, and an elite Seal team had begun rehearsing for the attack. The American cell at Tarbela Ghazi was charged with co-ordinating communications between the ISI, the senior US officers at their command post in Afghanistan, and the two Black Hawk helicopters; the goal was to ensure that no stray Pakistani fighter plane on border patrol spotted the intruders and took action to stop them.

It was clear to all by this point, the retired official said, that bin Laden would not survive […]. At the Abbottabad compound ISI guards were posted around the clock to keep watch over bin Laden and his wives and children. They were under orders to leave as soon as they heard the rotors of the US helicopters. The town was dark: the electricity supply had been cut off on the orders of the ISI hours before the raid began. One of the Black Hawks crashed inside the walls of the compound, injuring many on board.

The cockpit of the crashed Black Hawk, with its communication and navigational gear, had to be destroyed by concussion grenades, and this would create a series of explosions and a fire visible for miles. Two Chinook helicopters had flown from Afghanistan to a nearby Pakistani intelligence base to provide logistical support, and one of them was immediately dispatched to Abbottabad. But because the helicopter had been equipped with a bladder loaded with extra fuel for the two Black Hawks, it first had to be reconfigured as a troop carrier.

The crash of the Black Hawk and the need to fly in a replacement were nerve-wracking and time-consuming setbacks, but the Seals continued with their mission. There was no firefight as they moved into the compound; the ISI guards had gone. Had there been any opposition, the team would have been highly vulnerable.


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The Seal squad used explosives to blow the doors open, without injuring anyone. Osama was cowering and retreated into the bedroom. Two shooters followed him and opened up.

United States of America, The Death of Osama bin Laden

Very simple, very straightforward, very professional hit. The house was shabby and bin Laden was living in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof. The rules of engagement were that if bin Laden put up any opposition they were authorised to take lethal action.

But if they suspected he might have some means of opposition, like an explosive vest under his robe, they could also kill him. The rules gave them absolute authority to kill the guy. The Black Hawk is still burning.

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There are no city lights. No electricity. No police. No fire trucks. They have no prisoners.

The guys just stuffed some books and papers they found in his room in their backpacks. And they were not intelligence experts gathering information inside that house. Five days after the raid the Pentagon press corps was provided with a series of videotapes that were said by US officials to have been taken from a large collection the Seals had removed from the compound, along with as many as 15 computers.

Snippets from one of the videos showed a solitary bin Laden looking wan and wrapped in a blanket, watching what appeared to be a video of himself on television. He was throwing operational ideas out there and he was also specifically directing other al-Qaida members. And then we were told that the community is gathering everything together and needs to translate it. But nothing has come of it. Every single thing they have created turns out not to be true.

Otherwise, why kill him? A cover story was created — that there was a network of couriers coming and going with memory sticks and instructions. All to show that bin Laden remained important. In July , the Washington Post published what purported to be a summary of some of these materials. Bin Laden had then been buried at sea, just hours after his death. Whether the actions described constitute war crimes was not discussed, and the report did not suggest that any of the CIA interrogators or their superiors should be investigated for criminal activity. The agency faced no meaningful consequences as a result of the report.

The lies included some vital details about the uncovering of an al-Qaida operative called Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who was said to be the key al-Qaida courier, and the subsequent tracking of him to Abbottabad in early GENEVA 6 May — The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, have issued the following statement:.

Acts of terrorism are the antithesis of human rights, in particular the right to life.


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  5. In certain exceptional cases, use of deadly force may be permissible as a measure of last resort in accordance with international standards on the use of force, in order to protect life, including in operations against terrorists. However, the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially decided punishment.

    Actions taken by States in combating terrorism, especially in high profile cases, set precedents for the way in which the right to life will be treated in future instances. In respect of the recent use of deadly force against Osama bin Laden, the United States of America should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards. For instance it will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture Bin Laden.

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    It may well be that the questions that are being asked about the operation could be answered, but it is important to get this into the open. In addition, bin Laden continued to pose an imminent threat to the United States that engaged our right to use force, a threat that materials seized during the raid have only further documented. Under these circumstances, there is no question that he presented a lawful target for the use of lethal force.

    Moreover, the manner in which the U. Finally, consistent with the laws of armed conflict and U. The laws of armed conflict require acceptance of a genuine offer of surrender that is clearly communicated by the surrendering party and received by the opposing force, under circumstances where it is feasible for the opposing force to accept that offer of surrender. But where that is not the case, those laws authorize use of lethal force against an enemy belligerent, under the circumstances presented here.

    Skip to main content. By entering this website you agree that we use cookies in order to understand visitor preferences and keep improving our service. Learn more. I accept. Toggle navigation. In sum, the United States acted lawfully in carrying out its mission against Osama bin Laden. If it was, what was the nature of that conflict?

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    What pointers can you find? Document F Bearing in mind the fact that the operation took place in Pakistani territory, can it be a question of an international armed conflict? If confirmed, would the existence of a possible agreement between the United States and Pakistan as described by Seymour Hersh affect the classification of the situation? If Pakistan had not consented to the operation, was IHL regarding international armed conflict applicable, even if the operation was not directed against Pakistan?

    Documents C and F With regard to how the situation is defined, does it make a difference whether the helicopters took off from Jalalabad in Afghanistan or from Ghazi in Pakistan? A non-international armed conflict?

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    What criteria need to be fulfilled in the latter case? If the conflict between the United States and al-Qaida is covered by the IHL of non-international armed conflict in Afghanistan, does that law also apply between the United States and al-Qaida in Pakistan? Is the mere fact that in Afghanistan there is a non-international armed conflict between the Afghan government and the United States forces on the one hand and the Taliban on the other sufficient to render the IHL of non-international armed conflict applicable to the Abbottabad operation? Is the mere fact that there might have been a non-international armed conflict in Pakistan between the government forces and Pakistani armed groups sufficient to render international humanitarian law governing non-international armed conflicts applicable to the Abbottabad operation?

    What connection needs to exist between those conflicts for IHL to be applicable to the Abbottabad operation? If IHL is not applicable, what rules are applicable to that operation? Is the United States required to comply with international human rights law in Pakistan? Could the treatment described be justified if it had made it possible to locate, arrest or kill Osama bin Laden? If that operation was part of an armed conflict, was Osama bin Laden necessarily a legitimate target of attack?

    On what conditions? Can or must the IHL of non-international armed conflicts be applied to that matter even if there were an international armed conflict between the United States and Pakistan?