U.S. President Barack Obama says he ordered the raid against al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden after deciding that the risks were outweighed by the possibility of “finally getting our man.”
Mr. Obama said during a broadcast interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday that his number one concern was for the commandos, and that he did not lose sleep over the possibility that bin Laden might be killed. The president said the raid was “the longest 40 minutes” of his life, with the possible exception of when his daughter Sasha became sick with meningitis when she was three months old.
Mr. Obama said anyone who questions whether the terrorist leader did not deserve his fate “needs to have their head examined.”
He said it remains unclear whether Pakistan’s government was aware of bin Laden’s presence in the country. He said it was clear bin Laden had “some sort of support network” inside Pakistan to be able to live in such a large compound for five to six years. But he did not accuse Pakistani officials of harboring the world’s most sought-after terrorist.
In another broadcast interview earlier Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, a senior U.S. administration official said that despite bin Laden’s death, the terrorist threat from al-Qaida continues.
National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said the United States can not consider al-Qaida to be “strategically defeated.” But he described removing bin Laden as a “really important milestone” in taking down the terrorist organization.
Donilon said the extent of the materials seized from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during the overnight raid by U.S. forces amounted to the largest cache of terrorist intelligence ever gathered, what he described as a “treasure trove” of data.
On Saturday, the U.S. released several videos seized by U.S. forces when they raided bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout and killed him. An intelligence official told reporters the videos, computer drives and other materials showed that bin Laden was “far from a figurehead,” but was an active player in al-Qaida’s operation.
Bin Laden seemed particularly concerned about how he presented himself to the world. One video showed bin Laden intently watching television newscasts about himself.
In that video, his unkempt beard was streaked gray. But in another, he had apparently dyed his beard black and neatly trimmed it for the filming of a propaganda video.
U.S. officials have been searching through seized items in hopes of learning what plans al-Qaida had for future attacks and where other al-Qaida officials are living.
Security Advisor Donilon says deputy al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was not anywhere near bin Laden when he was killed. The search for him continues.