The first image of bin Laden that the White House may show us is ‘bloody and gruesome, with a bullet wound to his head above his left eye.’ If it’s released, this is the image that will instantly supplant every other account of Sunday’s raid as the iconic representation of America’s moment of triumph over its most wanted enemy. Is that what we want—the official equivalent of the Saddam hanging video? Did we learn nothing from the past decade about the overwhelming power of crude images of violence to define and polarize our historical moment?
The raid: How it happened

The full story of the night Bin Laden was killed, as told by those in the crosshairs.

The Abbottabad Commission was charged with ascertaining the facts of what happened on the night of May 1, 2011, when the United States unilaterally launched a raid to capture or kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in northern Pakistan.

While all previous accounts released to the public have been the stories of SEAL team members, or sourced mainly through Washington’s squad of analysts from the CIA and similar agencies, the Commission pieced together testimony from local and provincial officials, police and security personnel - and, indeed, captured members of Bin Laden’s family themselves - to tell the story of that warm May night through the eyes of those who found themselves in the targeting crosshairs.

This is that account.

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I am way too close to this whole episode to be rational about this in any way, shape or form. Last night was a good night for me. And not just for New York, or D.C., or America, but for human people. The face of the Arab world in America’s eyes, for too long, has been bin Laden. And now, it is not. Now, the face is only the young people in Egypt, and Tunisia, and all the Middle Eastern countries… (where) freedom rises up, al Qaeda’s opportunity is gone. Al Qaeda’s opportunity is gone.

For the last ten years, al Qaeda had the world’s attention. They apparently wanted an ideology competition. And for all our rights and wrongs, and the world’s rights and wrongs, all al Qaeda seems to have come up with is, ‘Uhhhh, all right, we killed some Americans. How 'bout killing some British people? Maybe bombing Yemen? Shoe bomb doesn’t work? How 'bout an underwear bomb?’ They have nothing.


JON STEWART, The Daily Show.

Fuck yeah.

Statement by the Muslim Brotherhood on Bin Laden's Death (Translated)

 The whole world has lived and the especially the Muslims have suffered from a fierce media campaign to label Islam as terrorism and to describe the Muslims as violent, by attaching the September 11th attacks to al-Qaeda.

Today, the U.S. president has announced that a special task force of U.S. marines has succeeded in assassinating Sheikh Osama bin Laden, a woman, and one of his children, along with a number of his companions. [With this development], We find that we are facing a new situation.

The Muslim Brotherhood declares that they are against the use of violence generally, and against the methods of assassination, and they are with the fair trial of anyone accused of any crime, whatsoever.

The Muslim Brotherhood demands for the world (in general) and the Western world, as peoples and governments (particularly) to stop linking Islam with terrorism, and to deliberately correct the erroneous image which it has already promoted for a number of years.

The Muslim Brotherhood confirms that the legitimate resistance against foreign occupation for any country is a legitimate right guaranteed by divine law and international convention. Confusion [shuffling papers] between legitimate resistance and violence against innocent people was intended by the Zionist enemy in particular.

And so long as the occupation remains, the legitimate resistance will remain. It is on America, the NATO pact, and the European Union to speedily end the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

The Muslim Brotherhood demands that the United States cease its intelligence operations against the violators and to desist from interfering in the internal affairs of any Arab or Muslim country.

The Muslim Brotherhood

Cairo, on the 29 of Jumada 1 1432 A.H., corresponding to May 2, 2011

(President) Obama was informed about a “possible lead” on Bin Laden’s whereabouts in August 2010 and was informed in February that there was a “sound intelligence basis” for believing he was at the compound.

Between March 14 and April 28, Obama personally presided over five highly-secret National Security Council meetings where the plans to assassinate Bin Laden were forged.

During this period, Obama was being lambasted by Republicans for his hands-off handling of the Libyan revolution and accused by the GOP and Tea Party of being AWOL during the federal budget crisis negotiations.

“Why is the president not providing leadership?” asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a strident Obama critic and fledgling presidential candidate.

Obama, determined to keep the mission to wipe out Bin Laden a secret, was unable to reveal what was happening behind the scenes.

On Friday, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer let fly with a column that blasted Obama for “dithering” on the world stage and “leading from behind” in foreign affairs.

That same day, Obama quietly gave the final order to begin launching the operation against Bin Laden.

For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death.

But in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys. Indeed, an America that once carefully refrained from flaunting gruesome pictures of our victims for fear of engaging in ugly death euphoria now ogles pictures of Uday and Qusay’s corpses, rejoices over images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging and throws a party at news that bin Laden was shot in the head.


This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history – the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.

Read more from David Sirota on why Bin Laden’s death is a great relief, but by cheering it we’re mimicking our worst enemies.

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States… . Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks the common American people have been killed… .The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which makes us surprised, but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda… . Terror is the most dreaded weapon in the modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people.
He was living a half a mile from Pakistan’s version of West Point in a town surrounded by ex-(Pakistani) military officers. A half-mile. Lemme put that in New York City terms: bin Laden was on 21st (Street) and 7th Avenue; the (Pakistani military) was on 21st and 9th Avenue. If the Pakistani military academy were Domino’s, they would have delivered to bin Laden on foot.
—  JON STEWART, reacting to a Pakistani official’s claim, last year, that Osama bin Laden was “not in Pakistan,” on The Daily Show

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Above: Aerial photo of the Abbottabad Compound from the DOD/CIA via the National Journal.