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President Thanks Congress For Support, Calls For Unity Following Bin Laden's Death

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At a dinner for members of Congress at the White House Monday night, President Obama appealed to lawmakers to continue the spirit of national unity that followed
Osama bin Laden's death.

Obama said the nation is experiencing the same type of rallying together that occurred after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Even potential Republican presidential candidates offered praise to the president for the military operation that ended with bin Laden's burial at sea.

Less than 24 hours after bin Laden's death, ABC News has distributed video showing the inside of the compound where the al-Qaeda leader was hiding out in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The large home is described as being eight times the size of others in the area and was heavily guarded.

U.S. officials say a small team was able to gain access and that Bin Laden was killed in a firefight, along with four other people.

Details Emerge On Pakistan Raid

Obama administration officials say bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in a million-dollar compound. U.S. officials say the raid was a result of piecing together a lot information over several years, including CIA interrogations in Guantanamo Bay.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, gave agents the alias of a courier believed to be well-trusted by bin Laden, according to officials.

An official familiar with bin Laden's compound said two dozen U.S. Navy Seals wearing night-vision goggles slid down ropes from helicopters onto the grounds and killed the terrorist leader within 40 minutes, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. forces were prepared to capture bin Laden if he did not pose a threat, but that did not turn out to be the case.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said that bin Laden was engaged in a firefight with the Navy Seals and was hiding behind a woman as a human shield when the raid began.

During the raid, bin Laden was identified by name by one of his wives, according to the Pentagon.

Senior U.S. officials say that bin Laden's body was identified by "multiple" methods, including DNA testing and matching physical features, and they are "99.9 percent" sure that the terrorist was killed.

Brennan claimed that bin Laden's burial at sea was in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition, as he was buried within 24 hours of his death.

Obama administration officials decided to bury bin Laden at sea because they felt finding a country willing to accept his remains on short notice would prove difficult. The location of the burial has not been released.

Brennan said U.S. officials did not notify the Pakistani government about the mission until it was over and the Americans were out of the airspace. He also said the mission was designed to avoid engagement with Pakistani forces.

Both Security of State Hillary Clinton and Obama cautioned that bin Laden's death does not end the war on terrorism.

"Our message to the Taliban remains the same but today it may have even greater resonance. You cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process," said Clinton.

She also added the United States is still committed to supporting the people and government of Pakistan, and that the two countries "cooperated" to lead U.S. forces to bin Laden's compound.

Brennan said today that bin Laden must have had "some degree of support" in Pakistan, but stressed that the partnership between to two countries is crucial in the war against terror.

The FBI had offered a $27 million bounty on bin Laden's head. The United States is now offering a $25 million reward leading to the capture of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy and supposed successor to lead al-Qaeda.

Mayor Says Spirit Of City "Never Been Stronger"

Speaking earlier today by the active World Trade Center construction site today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the city will remain vigilant following the death of bin Laden while it continues its rebuilding of the site of terror attacks in 1993 and 2001.

President Obama announced bin Laden's death during an address to the nation late last night, saying the terrorist was killed during an operation led by the United States in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Bloomberg said that it was "hard to have a smile on your face" at the site where nearly 3,000 people died in a terrorist attack, but he stressed that the city will continue to rebuild and move forward.

"We come to say, with gratitude for the courageous men and women who made it possible, that the forces of freedom and justice have once again prevailed over those who use terror to pursue tyranny," said the mayor. "Osama bin Laden is dead, and the World Trade Center site is teeming with new life. Osama bin Laden is dead, and Lower Manhattan is pulsing with new activity. Osama bin Laden is dead, and New York City’s spirit has never been stronger."

City officials say there is no known specific security threat against the city, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sent out an alert to officers ordering a tightening of security at strategic points within the five boroughs. The extra security includes some helicopter surveillance.

"We certainly are not taking any chances," said Kelly. "Our assumption is that bin Laden's disciples would like nothing better than to avenge his death by another attack in New York. That is our current operating premise."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority are on high alert and have increased police presence throughout the city.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said there are no plans to raise the nationwide terror alert.

Bin Laden's Death Leads To Street Celebrations

Following the announcement of bin Laden's death late Sunday night, crowds gathered in Times Square and by the World Trade Center site.

By the early morning hours of Monday, the area around the World Trade Center was jammed with people celebrating and singing patriotic songs.

Bin Laden's death was a bittersweet victory to many of those who lost family members in the September 11th attacks. Some who lost loved ones said they had to come down to the site after hearing the news.

"Very relieved, very happy. Never thought this day would come," said Diane Massaroli, who lost her husband on September 11th.

Paula Berry, who lost her husband in the World Trade Center attack and is on the board of the September 11th National Memorial and Museum, saw bin Laden's death as a major event.

"I feel mixed feelings, because it will never change anything for us," Berry said. "It is not as if it is closure."

The museum's preview site on Vesey Street is giving people a look at what they can expect when the museum opens in September.

Meanwhile, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer hailed the military operation in Pakistan.

"You know for those of us here on 9/11, who lived through it, this is that measure of justice done, and I'm just so grateful for President Obama's resolve to never lose the fight on Osama bin Laden," said Gillibrand. "People just believe that this is something that was a measure of justice that needed to happen, and even though it took 10 years it doesn't make this moment less victorious."

In Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York State is on alert and that agencies and authorities are coordinating with federal authorities to ensure that proper precautions are in place.

He made clear that while there was no credible evidence of a specific threat, the state would not let down its guard.

"This is not going to end. It's over now because bin Laden is dead? No," said Cuomo. "Something changed that day, and this war against terrorism is a different type of war. We'll be fighting this war every day that I'm governor, we'll be fighting this war against terrorism."

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who led the city through the aftermath of September 11th, also weighed in, comparing bin Laden's death to the killing of some of the country's most notorious enemies.

"Some of the elation that we feel is a little premature. Meaning, this is not the end of World War II, this is still the middle of it. It's a big victory -- this would be like defeating and taking out a Hitler or a Stalin."

But Giuliani also cautioned that bin Laden's death may incite those who want to do harm to the United States.

"It will have a big impact long-term, but short-term there will be people who want to do damage to us," he said.

In response to bin Laden's death, the U.S. State Department has issued an alert through August 1 for Americans living or traveling abroad. They are being told to avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations because of possible anti-American violence.

U.S. embassy operations and government facilities worldwide will remain at a heightened state of alert.

For up-to-date security information, call 1-888-407-4747 or visit travel.state.gov.

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