For the first time, President Barack Obama has given an insight into the covert US raid that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan, saying that during the tense operation nobody cheered or high-fived as they were unsure about the outcome.
“One thing about having been through a lot of this previously, and everybody sitting around this table had been through the ups and downs of any wartime situation. It’s interesting the degree to which nobody cheered or nobody high-fived, because we couldn’t be sure at that point,” Obama told CNN about the raid which took place on May 2, 2011.
Obama said he took the decision despite the odds being “probably 50/50.” “The kinds of Special Forces and intelligence-gathering that we saw in the bin Laden raid is going to be, more often than not, the tool of choice for a president in dealing with that kind of threat,” he said.
In response to a question, Obama acknowledged while bin Laden has been killed, the ideology has not been extinguished. “The world is still dangerous. In many ways, the Middle East is in a more chaotic situation,” he said.
According to the special CNN report, Obama and his team said that now, any future terror-fighting formula will have to include working with allies to address the political resentment and economic frustration that give extremist groups such fertile ground.
“It was uniquely complicated because the stakes were so high, and we were operating inside of Pakistan. But these guys had been through a lot of harrowing moments,” Obama said recollecting the days that led to bin Laden raid. Obama said this was the best opportunity the US ever had to kill bin Laden.
Remembering the moment when the first US helicopter crashed inside the Abbottabad compound. “It was not an ideal start,” he said. “We came in here at the point where the helicopters were about to actually land. It’s here where we observed, for example, that one of the helicopters got damaged in the landing...I was thinking that this is not an ideal start,” Obama said.
Everyone was worried, the president said. “The good news was it didn’t crash. Our guys were able to extract themselves. The bad news was that the helicopter itself had been damaged,” he noted.
“Even though we had the best helicopter operators imaginable, despite the fact that they had practiced these landings repeatedly in a mock up, we couldn’t account for temperature, and the fact that helicopters start reacting differently in an enclosed compound where heat may be rising,” he said.