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Obama: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden killed by US forces

President Obama announced Sunday night that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – the mastermind behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – had been killed by US Special Forces in Pakistan.

President Barack Obama reads his statement to photographers after making a televised statement on the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, May 1.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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President Obama announced Sunday night that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – the mastermind behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people on US soil and the leader of a worldwide terrorist operation – had been found and killed by US Special Forces in a compound deep inside Pakistan.

"Last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice," Obama said. "Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a fire fight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

Capturing or killing the Al Qaeda leader had been his top priority in the war on terrorism, Obama said, and he called Sunday’s operation “the most significant achievement in our effort to date to defeat Al Qaeda.”

In a statement that perhaps would resonate most profoundly, he said simply, “Justice has been done.”

It was a stunning announcement in many respects, one that riveted late-night television viewers and drew tens of thousands of people to the White House after midnight – and to Times Square and Ground Zero as well – where they cheered, waved American flags, and sung the National Anthem.

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