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Computers and thumb drives recovered from Pakistan compound of Osama bin Laden, White House says.
The U.S. Navy SEAL team that took down Osama bin Laden also secured a "mother lode of intelligence" contained in computer drives at his Pakistani compound, according to U.S. officials.
The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid, Politico reports. “They cleaned it out,” one official reportedly said. "Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?"
Meanwhile, new details are emerging on the raid, including that the CIA knew as far back as February that the Al Qaeda chief was living at the compound in Pakistan, and that the team that killed Osama bin Laden would have taken him alive if it had the chance.
Navy SEALs prepared for the mission using a replica of the compound to carry out practice raids in early April, according to the National Journal.
On the day of the mission, originally scheduled for Saturday but delayed due to bad weather, a team of SEALs was reportedly flown from Afghanistan. They traveled in MH-60 helicopters that took off from Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan to Abbottabad about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad.
“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden. Today we are reminded that as a nation, there's nothing we can't do when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together. And we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans.”~President Barack Obama
The raid itself lasted about 40 minutes and in the end 22 people were killed or captured. Bin Laden, held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed by two shots to the left side of his face. His body was placed aboard one of the choppers with the returning soldiers.
"If we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that,” John Brennan, a counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, told reporters at the White House, according to Politico.
U.S. officials confirmed that they identified bin Laden's body in Afghanistan using DNA tests, comparing brain matter from his sister, who died several years ago from cancer in Boston, the Telegraph reports.
President Barack Obama reportedly monitored the operation from the White House Situation Room on Sunday, a senior administration official told the LA Times.
Obama said Monday, “This is a good day for America."
According to Politico, he added: "The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden. Today we are reminded that as a nation, there's nothing we can't do when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together. And we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans."
In announcing bin Laden's killing a surprise televised address from the White House on Sunday night, Obama said: "For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al Qaeda’s leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda."
Bin Laden has since been buried at sea. According to Islamic practice, the body should be buried within 24 hours.
But Muslim clerics said Monday that burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.
Amid debate over whether the sea burial was a wise choice, a number of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca, the AP reported.
Amid concern over revenge attacks, the Port Authority of New York said that its police, who have jurisdiction over the site of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, had been told to increase their presence at the site of the twin towers destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, Bloomberg reports.
Meantime, it has emerged that Obama monitored the operation to take out bin Laden from the Situation Room along with his national security advisor, Tom Donilon, Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the LA Times reports. CIA director Leon Panetta was at the White House at several points during the day.
During his televised speech Sunday, Obama addressed those who lost loved ones during the September 11 attacks and said: “We have never forgotten your loss nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it