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Center: There is a graphic representing Osama Bin Laden. Above graphic, DEVGRU / ST6 / RED Squadron the different names for the Navy Seals involved in operation. Below the graphic, "GERONINMO E-KIA" code namefor BinLaden and Enemy KilledIn Action, and(10Mar57 - 2May11) lifetime of enemy #1.
Emblems: Naval Special Warfare Development Group(Top, AKA, Seal Team 6), Joint Special Operations Command (Right side), Nightstalkers (Left side, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, chopper team), and Seal Team 6 (Bottom).
Words around edge: CIA/NSA/NGA- Central Intelligence Agency/National Security Agency/National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency major intel agencies involved, JTF-GTM - Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where interrogation provided lead for the operation,160th SOAR - Special Operations Aviation Regiment flew Seals in and out for operation, and K9 Support- Belgian Malinois named Cairo was part of team.
Written around the edge: OPERATION NEPTUNE SPEAR name of the operation, which took down Osama Bin Laden, Camp-A Bagram Afghanistan - Camp Alpha the location where the special operation troops trained for operation, and 40 Minutes To Execute -approximated time to complete the operation.
Emblems on Edge: On each side (left and right sides)is the Naval Special Warfare Development Group/DEVGRU/Seal Team 6 flash, and 160th with flying wings (bottom)- represents 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
In center: Map of area is where the operation took place. At thetopof the map is the date the operation took place,2 May 2011.In a cream color is the country of Pakistan. Surrounding Pakistan are India, Afghanistan, and Arabian Sea.
Emblems in the center area:Red Airborne insignia- United States Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) shoulder sleeve insignia command for 160th SOAR, Special Warfare insignia or "SEAL Trident," USS Carl Vinson crest next to Arabian Sea, and gold/black United States Special Operation Command insignia, which is the command over all Department of Defense Spec Ops.
OPERATION NEPTUNE SPEAR:
Osama bin Laden, head of the militant Islamic group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit. The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States President Barack Obama and carried out in a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation by a team of United States Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (informally known as DEVGRU or by its former name SEAL Team Six) of the Joint Special Operations Command, with support from CIA operatives on the ground. The raid on bin Laden's compound in Bilal Town, Abbottabad, Pakistan was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid, U.S. forces took bin Laden's body to Afghanistan for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death.
Al-Qaeda confirmed the death on May 6 with posts made on militant websites, vowing to avenge the killing. Bin Laden's killing was generally favorably received by U.S. public opinion; was welcomed by the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, and a large number of governments; but was condemned by some, including Fidel Castro of Cuba, and the Palestinian Hamas leader of the Gaza Strip. Legal and ethical aspects of the killing, such as his not being taken alive despite being unarmed, were questioned by others, including Amnesty International.
Locating bin Laden
The U.S. intelligence community effort to determine the current location of Osama bin Laden, which eventually resulted in the Abbottabad operation, began with a fragment of information unearthed in 2002, resulting in years of consequent investigation, followed by intensive multiplatform surveillance on the compound beginning in September 2010.
Identity of his courier
Identification of al-Qaeda couriers was an early priority for interrogators at CIA black sites and Guantanamo Bay detention camp, because bin Laden was believed to communicate through such couriers while concealing his whereabouts from al-Qaeda foot soldiers and top commanders. Bin Laden was known not to use phones, as the US launched missile strikes against his bases in Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 (Operation Infinite Reach) after tracking an associate's satellite phone.
By 2002, interrogators had heard uncorroborated claims about an al-Qaeda courier with the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti (sometimes referred to as Sheikh Abu Ahmed from Kuwait). In 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged operational chief of al-Qaeda, revealed under interrogation that he was acquainted with al-Kuwaiti but that he was not active in al-Qaeda.
In 2004, a prisoner named Hassan Ghul told interrogators that al-Kuwaiti was close to bin Laden as well as Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Mohammed's successor Abu Faraj al-Libi. Ghul further revealed that al-Kuwaiti had not been seen in some time, which led U.S. officials to suspect he was traveling with bin Laden. When confronted with Ghul's account, Khalid Sheik Mohammed maintained his original story. Abu Faraj al-Libi was captured in 2005 and transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006. He told CIA interrogators that bin Laden's courier was a man named Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti. Because both Mohammed and al-Libi had minimized al-Kuwaiti's importance, officials speculated that he was part of bin Laden's inner circle.
In 2007, officials learned al-Kuwaiti's real name, though they will not disclose the name nor how they learned it. Since the name Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan appears in the JTF-GTMO detainee assessment for Abu Faraj al-Libi released by WikiLeaks on April 24, 2011, there was speculation that the U.S. assault on the Abbottabad compound was expedited as a precaution. The CIA never found anyone named Maulawi Jan and concluded al-Libi made the name up.
A 2010 wiretap of another suspect picked up a conversation with al-Kuwaiti. CIA paramilitary operatives located al-Kuwaiti in August 2010 and followed him back to bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. The courier and a relative (who was either a brother or a cousin) were killed in the May 2, 2011 raid. Afterwards, some locals identified the men as Pashtuns named Arshad and Tareq Khan. Arshad Khan was carrying an old, noncomputerized Pakistani identification card which said he was from Khat Kuruna, a village near Charsadda in northwestern Pakistan. Pakistani officials have found no record of an Arshad Khan in that area and suspect the men were living under false identities.
In June 2011 Pakistani officials revealed the courier's name as Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed from Pakistan's Swat Valley. He and his brother Abrar and their families were living at bin Laden's compound.
Bin Laden's compound
The CIA used surveillance photos and intelligence reports to determine the identities of the inhabitants of the Abbottabad compound to which the courier was traveling. In September 2010, the CIA concluded that the compound was custom-built to hide someone of significance, very likely bin Laden. Officials surmised that he was living there with his youngest wife.
Built in 2004, the three-story compound was located at the end of a narrow dirt road. Google Earth maps made from satellite photographs show that the compound was not present in 2001 but did exist on images taken in 2005. It is located 2.5miles (4.0km) northeast of the city center of Abbottabad. Abbottabad is about 100miles (160km) from the Afghanistan border on the far Eastern side of Pakistan (about 20miles (32km) from India). The compound is 0.8miles (1.3km) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), a prominent military academy that has been compared with West Point in the United States and Sandhurst in Britain. Located on a plot of land eight times larger than those of nearby houses, it was surrounded by a 12-to-18-foot (3.7–5.5m) concrete wall topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates, and the third-floor balcony had a seven-foot-high (2.1m) privacy wall, tall enough to hide the 6ft4in (193cm) bin Laden.
There was no Internet or landline telephone service to the compound, and its residents burned their trash, unlike their neighbors who set their garbage out for collection. Local residents called the building the Waziristan Haveli, because they believed the owner was from Waziristan.
The CIA led the effort to surveil and gather intelligence on the compound; other critical roles in the operation were played by other American government agencies, including the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ONDI), as well as the U.S. Defense Department. According to The Washington Post, "The [intelligence-gathering] effort was so extensive and costly that the CIA went to Congress in December  to secure authority to reallocate tens of millions of dollars within assorted agency budgets to fund it, U.S. officials said."
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency rented a home in Abbottabad from which a team staked out and observed the compound over a number of months. The CIA team used informants and other techniques to gather intelligence on the compound. The safe house was abandoned immediately after bin Laden's death. The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency helped the Joint Special Operations Command create mission simulators for the pilots and analyzed data from an RQ-170 drone before, during and after the raid on the compound. The NGA also created three-dimensional renderings of the house, created schedules describing residential traffic patterns, and assessed the number, height and gender of the residents of the compound.
The design of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad may have ultimately contributed to his discovery. A former CIA official involved in the manhunt told The Washington Post, "The place was three stories high, and you could watch it from a variety of angles."
The CIA used a process called "red teaming" on the collected intelligence to independently review the circumstantial evidence and available facts of their case that bin Laden was living at the Abbottabad compound. An administration official stated, "We conducted red-team exercises and other forms of alternative analysis to check our work. No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did." This duplicate analysis was necessary because "Despite what officials described as an extraordinarily concentrated collection effort leading up to the operation, no U.S. spy agency was ever able to capture a photograph of bin Laden at the compound before the raid or a recording of the voice of the mysterious male figure whose family occupied the structure's top two floors."
Operation Neptune Spear
The official mission code name was Operation Neptune Spear. Neptune's spear is the trident, which appears on Navy Special Warfare insignia, with the three prongs of the trident representing the operational capacity of SEALs on sea, air and land.
The Associated Press cited two U.S. officials as stating the operation was "a kill-or-capture mission, since the U.S. doesn't kill unarmed people trying to surrender", but also that "it was clear from the beginning that whoever was behind those walls had no intention of surrendering". White House counterterrorism advisor John O. Brennan stated after the raid: "If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn't present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that." CIA Director Leon Panetta stated on PBS NewsHour: "The authority here was to kill bin Laden...Obviously under the rules of engagement, if he in fact had thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn't appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But, they had full authority to kill him."
However, a U.S. national security official, who was not named, told Reuters that "'this was a kill operation', making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive in Pakistan". Another source referencing a kill (rather than capture) order states, "Officials described the reaction of the special operators when they were told a number of weeks ago that they had been chosen to train for the mission. 'They were told, "We think we found Osama bin Laden, and your job is to kill him",' an official recalled. The SEALs started to cheer."
After an intelligence-gathering effort on the courier's Pakistan compound that began September 2010, President Obama met with his national security advisers on March 14 to create an action plan. They met four more times (March 29, April 12, April 19 and April 28) in the six weeks before the raid. On March 29, Obama personally discussed the plan with Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, the commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). "Many multiple possible courses of action" were presented to Obama in March and "refined over the course of the next several weeks".
One approach considered by U.S. officials was to bomb the house using B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, which could drop 32 2,000-lb (907-kg) Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Obama rejected this option, opting for a raid that would provide definitive proof that bin Laden was inside, and limit civilian casualties.
Deploying drones was apparently not feasible, in part because of limited firepower and in part because the compound's location was "within the Pakistan air defense intercept zone for the national capital".
Another course of action (COA) suggested by JSOC was "a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch". This was rejected to protect operational security, as U.S. intelligence and military officials feared that alerting any Pakistani personnel might lead to someone tipping off bin Laden or his associates about the impending raid. The SEALs were instructed to avoid any confrontation with Pakistani military or police forces if possible, but were authorized to engage as a last resort. President Obama ordered the size of the combat team to be increased to handle a possible military confrontation with Pakistani forces.
The mission leaders ultimately settled on the commando-led COA. One of the risks of this COA, which required extensive preparation and training to achieve mission objectives, was that it "provided greater chances for information to leak out over the ensuing months, scuttling the mission and sending bin Laden deeper into hiding". Commanders also feared a worst-case scenario reminiscent of the failed Operation Eagle Claw effort to resolve the Iran hostage crisis in 1980 or the infamous Black Hawk Down debacle during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.
Members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group's Red Squadron from Dam Neck, Virginia were selected for the mission. According to a recently retired Navy special ops officer interviewed by the Navy Times, the Red Squadron were chosen from amongst DEVGRU's Blue, Gold, Red and Silver Squadrons because it was "ready and available for tasking", i.e. "not on alert or deployed" on any other mission.
The DEVGRU Red Squadron SEALs began training for the raid (the objective of which remained unknown to them) after the late-March national security meeting, "holding dry runs at training facilities on both American coasts, which were made up to resemble the compound". As plans progressed during April, the DEVGRU SEALs began more specific training exercises on a one-acre replica of the Waziristan Haveli that was built inside Camp Alpha, a restricted section of the Bagram military base in Afghanistan. According to The Daily Telegraph, 24 Navy SEALs carried out practice runs on April 7 and April 13.
On April 29, at 8:20am, Obama convened with Brennan, Thomas E. Donilon, and other national security advisers in the Diplomatic Reception Room and gave the final order to raid the Abbottabad compound.
The raid planned for that day was postponed until the following day due to cloudy weather.
Execution of the operation
Approach and entry
After President Obama authorized the mission to kill or capture bin Laden, CIA Director Leon Panetta gave the go-ahead at midday on May 1.
The raid was carried out by approximately two dozen helicopter-borne United States Navy SEALs from the Red Squadron of the Joint Special Operations Command's United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). For legal reasons (namely that the U.S. is not at war with Pakistan), the military personnel assigned to the mission were temporarily transferred to the control of the civilian Central Intelligence Agency. The DEVGRU SEALs operated in two teams and were equipped with Heckler & Koch 416 carbine
According to The New York Times, a total of "79 commandos and a dog" were involved in the raid. The military working dog was a Belgian Malinois named Cairo. (The dog's specific orders are unclear, but he may have had bomb detection training, or tracking skills. According to one report, he was tasked with tracking "anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces".) Additional personnel on the mission included a language translator, the dog handler, helicopter pilots, "tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers".
The SEALs flew into Pakistan from a staging base in the city of Jalalabad in Eastern Afghanistan after originating at Bagram Air Base in northEastern Afghanistan.
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), an airborne U.S. Army Special Operations Command unit also known as the Night Stalkers, provided the two modified Black Hawk heliopters that were used for the raid itself, as well as three much larger Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that were employed as backups.
The Black Hawks appear to have been never-before-publicly-seen "stealth" versions of the helicopter that fly more quietly while being harder to detect on radar than conventional models; due to the weight of the extra stealth equipment on the Black Hawks, cargo was "calculated to the ounce, with the weather factored in."
The Chinooks, which were kept on standby on the ground "in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way" between Jalalabad and Abbottabad, contained two additional SEAL teams consisting of approximately 24 DEVGRU operators along with Army Rangers for a backup QRF.
The 160th SOAR helicopters were supported by multiple other aircraft, including fixed-wing fighter jets and drones. According to CNN, "the Air Force also had a full team of combat search-and-rescue helicopters available".
The raid was scheduled for a time with little moon light so the helicopters could enter Pakistan "low to the ground and undetected". The helicopters used hilly terrain and nap-of-the-earth techniques to reach the compound without appearing on radar and alerting the Pakistani military.
According to the mission plan, one of the SEAL teams would fast-rope onto the roof of the compound while the team in the other would exit into the courtyard and make entrance from the ground floor. As they hovered above the target, however, one of the helicopters suffered a hazard known as a vortex ring state aggravated by higher than expected air temperature ("a so-called 'hot and high' environment") and the high compound walls, "which blocked rotor downwash from diffusing" causing the tail to "graze one of the compound's walls" and "breaking a rotor". The helicopter "rolled onto its side" and the pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose "to keep it from tipping over." None of the SEALs, crew and pilots on the helicopter were seriously injured in the soft crash landing. The other helicopter then landed outside the compound and the SEALs scaled the walls to get inside. The SEALs proceeded to blow their way through walls and doors with explosives.
The SEALs encountered the residents in the compound's guest house, in the main building on the first floor where two adult males lived, and on the second and third floors where bin Laden lived with his family. The second and third floors were the last section of the compound to be cleared. There were reportedly "small knots of children...on every level, including the balcony of bin Laden's room".
In addition to Osama bin Laden, three other men and a woman were killed in the operation. The individuals killed were bin Laden's adult son (likely Khalid, possibly Hamza), bin Laden's courier (Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti), a male relative of the courier and the courier's wife.
Al-Kuwaiti opened fire on the first team of SEALs with an AK-47 from behind the guesthouse door, and a firefight took place between him and the SEALs, in which al-Kuwaiti was killed. A woman, identified as the courier's wife, was killed during this exchange. The courier's male relative was shot and killed, before he could reach a weapon found lying nearby, by the SEALs' second team on the first floor of the main house. Bin Laden's young adult son rushed towards the SEALs on the staircase of the main house, and was shot and killed by the second team. An unnamed U.S. senior defense official said only one of the five people killed was armed.
The SEALs encountered bin Laden on the second or third floor of the main building. Bin Laden was "wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a kurta paijama", which were later found to have €500 and two phone numbers sewn into the fabric.
Bin Laden peered over the third floor ledge at the Americans advancing up the stairs, and then retreated into his room as a SEAL fired a shot at him, but missed. The SEALs quickly followed him into his room, and shot him. There were two weapons near bin Laden in his room, including an AK-47 assault rifle and a Russian-made semi-automatic Makarov pistol, but according to his wife Amal, he was shot before he could reach his AK-47. According to the Associated Press the guns were on a shelf next to the door and the SEALs did not see them until they were photographing the body. Bin Laden was killed by a shot to his chest followed by one above his left eye, a technique sometimes referred to as a "double tap".
Bin Laden's fifth wife, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah was one of the injured women. When the SEALs entered the room in which bin Laden was hiding, his wife charged them and was shot in the leg. Bin Laden's 12-year-old daughter Safia was struck in her foot or ankle by a piece of flying debris.The Pakistani wife of one of the men killed was also injured.
As the SEALs encountered women and children during the raid, they restrained them with plastic handcuffs or zip ties. After the raid was over, U.S. forces moved the surviving residents outside "for Pakistani forces to discover".
While bin Laden's body was taken by U.S. forces, the bodies of the four others killed in the raid were left behind at the compound and later taken into Pakistani custody.
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Seal Team 6 Operation Neptune Spear Navy Challenge Coin: $17