Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who orchestrated the September 11th terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, has been killed by U.S. forces, President Obama announced Sunday night.
"The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda," the president announced in a nationally televised address shortly after 11:30 p.m.
The president said that military intelligence revealed that bin Laden was likely hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a suburb of the capital of Islamabad, and that on Friday the president authorized an operation to capture or kill him.
A small team of Americans carried out the operation on Sunday, and after a firefight they killed bin Laden and took possession of his body, the president said.
He said that no Americans were harmed in the operation, and that they took care to avoid civilian casualties.
"Justice has been done," the president said of the death of the world's most wanted fugitive, whose demise ends a decade-long manhunt.
The news prompted thousands of New Yorkers to descend on the World Trade Center site, where revelers sang "God Bless America" and waved American flags. In Morningside Heights, students at Columbia University also gathered following the news. Elsewhere, revelers gathered around the White House in Washington, D.C., where they sang the national anthem.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly released a statement following the president's announcement saying: "While there is no information indicating a specific threat to New York City, members of the service are reminded to remain alert in the aftermath of the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been killed."
Port Authority officials also said they would be increasing security at the World Trade Center site and other Port Authority facilities out of an abundance of caution.
United States military forces were reportedly put on alert following the announcement of bin Laden's death.
Reports say Sunday's operation was a high-risk helicopter raid conducted by a team of Navy SEALs on a large, highly fortified home located in a densely populated area of town. The complex was said to be protested by barbed wire and 12- to 18-foot walls. Authorities were reportedly alerted to the existence of the compound after a post-9/11 detainee identified one of bin Laden's trusted couriers and officials then traced him to the residence. U.S. suspicions about the complex were reportedly heightened when intelligence reports showed that the property was worth approximately $1 million yet had no telephone or Internet service.
In addition to bin Laden, reports say those killed were bin Laden's son, two male couriers, and a woman who was killed when she was used as a human shield by a target of the raid.
In his address, President Obama thanked Pakistani President Asif Zardari for his cooperation in the operation. Pakistani officials had long denied bin Laden was hiding within Pakistan's borders, and efforts to find him centered for years on neighboring Afghanistan.
Two thousand seven hundred and fifty-two people were killed when al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, in the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.
The news of bin Laden's death comes as the city prepares to observe the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks. Bin Laden had spent the last decade avoiding U.S. capture, and there had been a $25 million reward for his death or capture.
The face of the al-Qaeda terror organization, bin Laden was also indicted by U.S. authorities for his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and was also sought for his role in the 2000 suicide attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.