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Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1 in a raid by Navy SEALS at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, finally caught by his pursuers ten years after the United States declared him Enemy No. 1. Bin Laden had been a fugitive from American justice since at least 1998, when he organized the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, but it was only after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that Washington began using the full military and technological might at its disposal to dismantle al Qaeda, and target its leader. President Barack Obama made a special priority of tracking down the elusive jihadist, promising to act on any intelligence that suggested bin Laden's whereabouts. This past weekend, he made good on that promise, bringing some measure of justice to the victims of al Qaeda's terror attacks, if not yet a final end to the global war on terror.


Al Qaeda was founded in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar in the summer of 1988. The minutes of al Qaeda's first few meetings did not mention the United States as an enemy but described the group's goals in the broadest and vaguest of terms, according to journalist Peter Bergen. "Al Qaeda is basically an organized Islamic faction; its goal will be to life the word of God, to make His religion victorious," read the minutes from the second meeting.


Two months after bin Laden announced his intention to attack American targets, al Qaeda blew up U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in orchestrated bombings that occurred nine minutes apart. Eight people were killed in Dar es Salaam, and 111 in Nairobi. Here, rescuers work to help survivors after the bombing in Nairobi on Aug. 7, 1998.


Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes at 9:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.


The front page of a newspaper featuring Osama bin Laden's face hangs on a wall of a subway station in Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 18, 2001.


Just three days after 9/11, Bush spoke to rescue workers, firefighters, and police officers from the rubble of Ground Zero in New York City. Standing with Bush is retired firefighter Bob Beckwith and at right is New York Governor George Pataki. Bush addressed the crowd: "I can hear you. I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."




The U.S. Department of Defense began passing out leaflets offering $25 million for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden and his top aide Ayman al-Zawahiri. The leaflets, displayed here on Nov. 20, 2001, were dropped from airplanes over Afghanistan in local languages. It is unclear whether the reward for bin Laden will be distributed.


A man watches Osama bin Laden on the "smoking gun" videotape broadcast on CNN for the first time Dec. 13, 2001 at a midtown electronics store. This tape marked the first time bin Laden admitted to planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. A Pentagon spokesman said that the tape was found in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad in late November 2001.


U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answers reporters' question during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on May 15, 2002, about the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the situation with North Korea and Iran, and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The idea of an Iraq connection surfaced soon after the twin towers were hit: Within hours of the 9/11 attacks, Rumsfeld considered whether "to hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] same time -- not only UBL [bin Laden]," according to notes made by one of his top deputies.


The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks meets to deconstruct the 9/11 attacks. Commission member Bob Kerrey listens to a presentation while a photograph of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a leading member of al Qaeda, is pictured on the screen behind him. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was captured during a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid in Rawalpindi in the spring of 2003 and has been held in U.S. custody since. Whether KSM would be tried in a military or civilian court proved to be a years-long battle that blunted the Obama administration's initial momentum to close Guantánamo and shift to civilian trials for detainees. The Obama administration recently decided KSM should be tried by a military commission.


At the site of a bombing in central Baghdad  -- which devastated a hotel and three nearby buildings -- on March 18 2004, a U.S. soldier passes out flyers offering $10 million for the capture of suspected al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi, a rabid Jordanian anti-Shiite, helped launch Iraq down the road to civil war as the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq before he was killed by two 500-pound bombs dropped from an F-16 in June 2006.


This Jan. 6, 2006 video image from an al-Jazeera broadcast shows al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri giving a speech at undisclosed location. Whether Zawahiri, who is "famously disputatious and tone deaf," according to Steve Coll, will assume the leadership of al Qaeda now that bin Laden has been killed is unclear.


A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport on June 13, 2010. Although the United States has fired more than 230 drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas since 2004, not one targeted bin Laden, who was killed by a shot to the head in a U.S. raid on a compound in Abbottabad, some 40 miles outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.


President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1.


U.S. President Barack Obama stands after addressing the nation from the East Room of the White House to tell the world that Osama bin Laden has been killed. "Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," he said. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."


U.S. Marines of Regiment Combat Team 1 watch Obama's televised address announcing the death of bin Laden at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on May 2.


Students gather at the fence on the north side of the White House, pose for photographs, chant "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" and sing the Star Spangled Banner while Obama announces the death of bin Laden.


Afghan men working at a TV shop hug each other while watching the news on May 2 in Kabul. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said bin Laden was "delivered his due punishment," as the United States and NATO sought to reassure Afghans that bin Laden's death does not mean the end of international involvement in Afghanistan.


Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan's hilly city of Abbottabad on May 2.


Pakistani Army soldiers leave the area near Osama bin Laden's hideout on May 2.


In this satellite image, the compound where bin Laden was shot and killed is seen on June 15, 2005 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 


Illustration of bin Laden's Abbottabad compound released as part of a government briefing for reporters. 


A man takes pictures of the front page of a newspaper in front of the White House on May 2. Analysts warn both that bin Laden's death is a blow to al Qaeda and the Taliban and that it does not mean the end of the terrorist group.

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