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Osama Bin Laden raid may turn up useful security data

May 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Materials seized from the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden are being analyzed to better understand his network and identify potential threats, U.S. officials said.

U.S. intelligence is poring over documents, hard drives and DVDs seized at the Al Qaeda mastermind's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They hope the confiscated material could provide valuable information that could lead them to more key players in the Al Qaeda organization.

When the attack was ordered, President Barack Obama and his national security team watched it unfold in real time from the White House Situation Room.

A security advisor said minutes felt more like days as they watched - their eyes glued to monitors by way of a satellite feed carried by the Navy SEALs. They were able to get a glimpse of the firefight, as the mission was caught on tape from helmet cameras worn by the SEALs.

A SEAL reported back to base, "Geronimo E-K-I-A," which is code indicating Bin Laden was killed.

Navy SEALs raid Bin Laden's lair

The mission began with two elite teams of Navy SEALs going from room to room. They engaged in a firefight with Bin Laden's two couriers, which woke up neighbors nearby.

"I heard gunfire around 1 a.m. It was followed by a huge blast," said witness Syed Riaz Hussain.

The SEALs then moved to an upper floor, where they found the man the U.S. has been after for more than a decade. When Bin Laden resisted, the SEALs shot him.

White House officials said Tuesday that Bin Laden was not armed during the raid. It had been erroneously and widely reported that Bin Laden died with a gun in his hand. U.S. officials said Bin Laden was shot above his left eye, blowing away part of his skull. He was also shot in the chest, they said.

Officials also said one of Bin Laden's wives tried to rush the U.S. assaulters and was shot in the leg. She was not used as a shield and did not die, officials said Tuesday.

All of this unfolded near the end of a frenzied firefight in a high-walled Pakistani compound where helicopter-borne U.S. forces found 23 children, nine women, a Bin Laden courier who had unwittingly led the U.S. to its target, a son of Bin Laden who was also slain and more.

Bin Laden had lived at the fortified compound for six years, officials said, putting him far from the lawless and harsh Pakistani frontier where he had been assumed to be hiding out.

Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared in front of the House Judiciary Committee, defending the SEALs' decision to kill Bin Laden versus capturing him.

"When you're on the scene, you want to get the person you're trying to capture. You also have to make sure you're protecting the lives of the people who are on our side and who put themselves at risk," said Holder.

Photos taken of Bin Laden's corpse

Along with Bin Laden's body, items were seized from the compound. Photos were taken of the interior, including Bin Laden's corpse.

ABC News learned that the Obama administration possesses photographs of Bin Laden's corpse. Officials who have seen the photographs describe them as "gruesome."

Bin Laden had a gunshot wound to his forehead and the photographs reportedly show the inside of his head.

There are also pictures of Bin Laden's dead son Khaled, the dead courier and the dead courier's brother, according to ABC News.

There are also reports that photos were taken of his body before it was lowered into the North Arabian Sea. It remains unclear if any of these images will be released.

Obama's security advisor told "Good Morning America" Tuesday morning that sensitive information cannot be compromised.

"We are looking at releasing additional information, details about the raid as well as any other types of material, possibly including photos. We want to understand exactly what the possible reaction might be to release this information, so we are looking at that in a very deliberate manner," said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House is still mulling whether to make the photo public, but he said officials are concerned about the "sensitivity" of doing so. Carney said there is a discussion internally about the most appropriate way to handle it, but "there is not some roiling debate here about this."

In an exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by SurveyUSA, 43 percent of respondents said all photos of Bin Laden's corpse should be released, 39 percent said some of the photos should be released, 14 percent said none should be released and 4 percent said they weren't sure.

Respondents were also asked whether releasing a photo of Bin Laden's dead body would make the world a more dangerous place. Nineteen percent of respondents said it would be more dangerous, 18 percent said it would make the world safer, 59 percent said it would make no difference and 5 percent said they weren't sure.

"Most Americans until the day they die have the image of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers collapsing," said Jeffrey Simon, a political terrorism specialist. "Why not also have an image now of the ultimate victory of the man who perpetrated those horrendous attacks?"

Tour Bin Laden's secret hideout

An exclusive video of the compound's interior obtained by ABC News shows the 15-foot walls were topped with razor wire.

The house has eight rooms, but it seems shabby even before it was raided.

One first-floor bedroom is shown covered in blood. A simple bed can be seen in the corner. It is likely a mother's, with her baby's bed right next to it.

Across the hall, there are piles of clothes and blankets, apparently from being thrown around in the raid.

The master bedroom, perhaps Bin Laden's, is on the second floor. The floor of the room is covered in blood. The room is the nicest room in the house and is the only one with carpet and a queen-sized bed.

There are children's clothes in the closet and dozens of bottles of medicine in the bathroom, though the labels are indecipherable.

Down the hall, a food pantry can be seen. It is not shown very clearly, but there is enough food in there to sustain a family for weeks. Bin Laden never had to leave.

Tuesday, in the upper-middle class area where the compound exists, it became clear that's what kept him anonymous.

"If he was living here, he never went out," one local resident said.

Outside of the house, there was more evidence that a family had been living at the home comfortably. Toys are scattered in the backyard - even a discarded red wagon.

A small side building on the compound seemed to be some kind of sunroom with a satellite dish on top.

Did Pakistan know of Bin Laden's whereabouts?

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari has already denied knowing anything, but U.S. officials said that is hard to believe.

Zardari has said his country has suffered more casualties to terrorism than the U.S., some 30,000 victims, including his wife, the former president of Pakistan.

Bin Laden was found close to a military academy in a bustling city with a strong Pakistani military presence just north of the capital, Islamabad.

"It does cause one to question how this kind of facility, which stood out, was close by a military academy, could exist for the length of time it did exist," said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Ed Royse (R - Fullerton), who has visited Pakistan several times, says he is not surprised that Bin Laden could hide there in plain sight.

"In the intelligence service in Pakistan, you have so many radicalized individuals that I think it's quite probable that some were cognizant of this," Royse said.

Former President Pervez Musharraf also denied he knew anything during his years in office. When asked why he thought Bin Laden wasn't captured sooner, specifically during his time as president, he blamed failed attempts shared between his country and the U.S.

He also criticized the U.S. for violating Pakistan's sovereignty in how they executed the plan without Pakistan's knowledge.

However, Obama is not apologizing. White House officials told ABC News that the president is heading to Ground Zero, likely Thursday, to honor those killed on Sept. 11 and mark the killing of Bin Laden.

Who gets $27M reward for Bin Laden's capture?

Who, if anyone, deserves to claim the $27 million reward offered for Bin Laden's capture?

The answer may be no one.

Most of the tips that led to Bin Laden reportedly came from detainees, who aren't eligible for the payout.

It's unclear if any locals living near Bin Laden's compound may have provided useful information.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not comment when asked about the reward.

Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown is in Washington, D.C. Look for his live reports on the latest developments Tuesday afternoon on Eyewitness News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.