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Osama bin Laden dead: evidence, timeline

This undated artist rendering handout provided by the CIA shows the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan where American forces in Pakistan killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (CIA)

May 9, 2011 6:26:05 PM PDT
See a detailed outline of the events and facts surrounding the killing of al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Events leading up to bin Laden's killing

  • August 2010, U.S. intelligence discovered a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a town about 75 miles north of the capital of Islamabad.
  • A trusted bin Laden courier unwittingly confirmed his location to the U.S.
  • Just after midnight Sunday, May 1, in Pakistan, 30 to 40 Navy SEALs flew across the border from Afghanistan on two U.S. helicopters. They dropped down onto the roof on ropes and secured the building. There were no guards protecting bin Laden's hideout, which expedited the whole operation.
  • When U.S. forces entered the room where bin Laden was staying, the al Qaeda leader refused to surrender. At that point, he was shot above his left eye, blowing away part of his skull, said U.S. officials. In addition to bin Laden, one of his sons, Khalid, was killed in the raid. Bin Laden's wife was shot in the calf but survived. Also killed were the courier, another al Qaeda facilitator and an unidentified woman, officials said.
  • The entire operation to take down bin Laden took less than 40 minutes.
  • In an interview that aired Sunday, May 8, on CBS' "60 Minutes" progrma, President Obama said he was only 45 to 55 percent sure that bin Laden was even in the compound. He said he knew the operation to get bin Laden was risky, but he thought it was the best way to take out the al Qaeda leader.

Identifying bin Laden's body

  • Bin Laden's DNA was matched with that of one of his sisters, who died in Boston and whose brain was kept by the U.S. in the event that authorities needed to make a positive ID.
  • Two women at the Abbottabad compound identified bin Laden after he was killed, officials told ABC News, and after the SEALs got back to Jalalabad, they measured the corpse, and he was over 6 foot 4 inches tall.
  • The SEALs also transmitted photographs back to CIA headquarters, and agency analysts did facial recognition analysis, which concluded with a 90- to 95-percent match.
  • The U.S. is trying to get access to bin Laden's three widows. Authorities want to ask them about the possibility that Pakistan harbored bin Laden.

Evidence of bin Laden's death, sea burial

  • A U.S. official said bin Laden's body was lowered into the North Arabian Sea. The overnight sea burial was to avoid his burial site becoming a shrine. His body was treated beforehand by a Muslim Navy corpsman in accordance with Islamic law.
  • Pentagon officials said bin Laden's at-sea burial was videotaped and that it probably would not be publicly released.
  • Photos were taken of bin Laden's body before the burial. President Obama has stated the photos will not be released so as not to incite violence among extremists.
  • Obama said he has seen the death photos of bin Laden. The U.S. Department of Defense released five videos Saturday showing bin Laden in propaganda tapes. A less-than-flattering video showed the 54-year-old terrorist seated on the floor, watching television while wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap.
Inside the compound

  • ABC News obtained exclusive video of inside the building where bin Laden was killed [Watch video].
  • The White House released videos taken from the compound of bin Laden [Osama bin Laden tapes released: Part 1]

  • [Osama bin Laden tapes released: Part 2]

    [Osama bin Laden tapes released: Part 3]

    [Osama bin Laden tapes released: Part 4]

    [Osama bin Laden tapes released: Part 5]