For the past couple of weeks now, I’ve been reading a lot of 9/11 related stuff and I’ve been watching a lot of 9/11 related videos, all this started when I watched United 93 on Z Studio on the 4th of this month, instead of *studying* for my semester finals! Anyway, so I’ve always wanted to write about 9/11, not only because it was the most horrific terrorist attack in the history of the United States and the world, but also because I was born on 9/11 (Not 2001). :/ So, let’s get to the point, you all know what happened on that horrible day. 4 jetliners, 2 from United Airlines, 2 from American Airlines get hijacked en route to San Francisco and LA, AA 11 crashes into WTC 1 (a.k.a The North Tower) at about 08:46 AM, United Airlines 175, perhaps the most shocking of all the 4 planes crashes into the WTC 2 (a.k.a The South Tower) at about 09:03 AM, since it was captured nearly from all imaginable angles by both TV news crews and hundreds of onlookers with their videocams. Then a third airliner, AA 77 crashed into the pentagon, the home of the world’s most powerful military at about 09:37 AM then a FOURTH Airliner, UA 93, the only airliner not to reach it’s target (which many people claim to be either the White House or Capitol Building) crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA. Look at these videos below:

As all this was happening, New York’s lower Manhattan was being evacuated, And then, the unimaginable happened, The collapse of the South tower. At around the same time, George W. Bush (The Junior) gave a brief address from an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida. Bush’s initial response:
And about thirty minutes later, the North Tower collapsed, bring down thousands of lives with it. Collapse of South Tower: 
Collapse of North Tower: 
Then, Osama Bin Laden released this video:
The world was stunned, so was the United States, which forever thought two giant oceans protected it’s borders. The United States’s armor was breached, War was brought to the home front of America, AND THEY RESPONDED.

  • The Response

Within hours, USAF established CAP over New York. Every Airliner, across every Airport in the Untied States was grounded. FAA ordered the closure of all airspace except for emergency flights and guess what…Air Force One! USA readied it’s military for assault. With in days, B-2 stealth bombers and B-52s pounded targets in Taliban controlled Afghanistan and on the 20th September, 2001, Bush declared war on terror and then began, The War on Terror.

America Strikes back:

  • Osama Bin Laden

Though the primary mission of the US Special Forces was the destruction of Terror camps in Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Talibani government, a large section of the US special forces was tasked with finding and bringing Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda to “Justice”. US forces nearly caught him in late 2001 in Tora Bora, in Afghanistan, but he narrowly missed getting caught and slipped across the border into Pakistan. Then began the decade long manhunt, the biggest in the history and also the most draining. At it’s peak, nearly half of FBI and CIA was after this guy. Think about it, a country with a huge and wide center of operations dedicates half of it’s intelligence personnel to hunt down one guy. That’s how important Osama Bin Laden was to the United States. Anyway, cutting the 10 year long manhunt short, in 2010, some CIA agents tracked a suspected courier of Al Qaeda. What added fuel to CIA’s suspicion was the extraordinary precautions taken by this guy whenever he used to talk to anyone, also his not so conventional pattern of driving. All this led to CIA adding more resources to keep a track on this in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Now, this guy used to roam around all of Abbotabad an used to settle back to a highly guarded compound which had no nameplate, telephone lines or even Internet connection. Also, the place was designed in such a way that just by looking at it, you could sense that it was hiding something.

Then, CIA intensified surveillance of the place, employing hundreds of Agents and drones. Also, they frequently observed a tall bearded guy walking across the backyard sometimes and when they tried to find out the height of the guy using some good old trigonometry, the calculated height came insanely close to Osama Bin Laden’s actual height. This cleared up all of CIA’s suspicion and they told President Obama about it sometime in early 2011.

  • Operation Neptune Spear!

Obama, though was still skeptical about the whole thing, all of CIA’s evidence was not concrete and mostly circumstantial. But then, he did order the Military to start looking at various possible ways to take him down, since he embedded himself deep inside Pakistan and believe it or not, his compound was just 5 miles away from Pakistan Military Academy, similar to India’s IMA or America’s West Point (Personally, I think it’s no coincidence). And, Obama was doubtful about Pakistan’s commitment about the whole thing, so he decided to keep everything in the dark for Pakistan, until after the operation. Plus majority of Pakistan’s bases were under US monitor, so they could easily respond in case Pakistanis scrambled their American built F-16 fighting falcons. 3 possible operation scenarios were considered:

  • Bombardment of the compound by cruise missiles launched from USN Destroyers.
  • Hitting the guy with small controlled munition.
  • A covert operation by US NAVY SEALS (DEVGRU) (The most elite hit squad of the US Military, alongside DELTA).

The first scenario was a total NO NO. It was not even considered beyond the table because of the issue of heavy civilian causalities and also, the US won’t be left with any evidence to prove OBL’s existence. The second option too was not really put into action mainly because any misfire would alert the occupants of the compound and they’d escape even before special forces could get there. So, the last option and also the most risky one from American point of view was considered, putting America’s most elite into the danger zone to get the most wanted guy. As soon as the mode was decided, sometime in Feb/March 2011, Navy Seals (Seal Team 6) started training on a model building constructed to mimic the actual compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Then came the day, on 30th April, 2011, during the no moon night, The raid was carried out by approximately two dozen heliborne U.S. Navy SEALs from the Red Squadron of the Joint Special Operations Command‘s U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).  The DEVGRU SEALs operated in two teams and were reportedly equipped with Heckler & Koch HK416 military assault rifles, Mark 48 machine guns used for fire support, FN SCAR-H STD Mk 17 battle rifles and H&K MP7A1personal defense weapons (with attached Knight’s Armament QDSS-NT4 suppressors), Insight Technology AN/AVS-6 and GPVNG-18 (Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles) L-3 night-vision goggles, body armor and sidearms such as SIG Sauer P226R Navy MK25 and H&K Mark 23 Mod 0. The SEALS also carried a highly trained Dog, to hunt down escaping suspects. They were flown from Jalalabad, Afghanistan to Abbotabad, Pakistan on specially modified never before seen Black Hawks (picture below). The pilots used various radar evading maneuvers and finally reached the compound in about 90 minutes.

Black Hawk - Stealth
Black Hawk – Stealth

All this was closely monitored by The President, JCOS and various other high ranked officials present in the situation room in the White House. Predator drones flying above provided the battlefield status and the SEALS team leader regularly briefed William McRaven, the commander overlooking the operation.

Obama and others in the WHite House situation room during Neptune Spear
Obama and others in the White House situation room during Neptune Spear

Then, the worst fears came true. One of the Black Hawks while on slither down operation lost it’s life due to a weird phenomenon called vortex ring state. But still, everyone on board survived and they made sure that it’s no setback. They then later blew up the Black Hawk to prevent the stealth technology falling into the wrong hands! Then, the Navy SEALS, using door breachers cleared all the rooms, one by one. First they took on Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the courier who led them to Osama in the ground floor and they went up stairs, encountering heavy firing from Kalashnikovs and Grenades. Then finally, it was the moment. On the third floor, as the SEALS were climbing up, they saw a man looking at them running upstairs. It was none other then OSAMA BIN LADEN! The SEALS followed him all the way to his bedroom in the third floor as cowardly as anyone can get, he used his n’th wife as a human shield. Of course, it was no challenge to heavily armed NAVY SEALS. One shot killed his wife and then  Robert O’Neill, a SEALS operative fire two rounds to his forehead and one to his chest, thereby bringing curtains down on the decade long, billion dollar manhunt. He was then carried to USS Carl Vinson and dumped later at the Arabian sea. All of the above has been well depicted in the movie, Zero Dark Thirty So, in the end, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t mess with America. They’ll find you and kill you no matter what, even if it costs $443.5 billion!

Cost of Afghan War
Cost of Afghan War

Though killing of Osama Bin Laden has done little to the growing threat of terrorism around the world, it did bring some amount of closure and peace to the families of Victims at WTC Plaza, The Pentagon and those killed in Rural Pennsylvania on that fateful September day in 2001! References:

  1. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/04/real-cost-killing-osama-bin-laden
  2. DC’s weblog
  3. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/September_11_attacks
  4. http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf
  5. http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks
  6. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Death_of_Osama_bin_Laden

Thank you for reading. And oh, BTW, I’m no expert in Counter terrorism and neither do I work for any Intelligence agency. I’m just a crazy admirer of Special Forces and a counter terrorism enthusiast/history buff! 😀

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One thought on “9/11, Manhunt and the taking down of Osama Bin Laden!

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