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Bin Laden had AK-47, Makarov pistol nearby

May 5, 2011 at 7:53 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 5 (UPI) -- U.S. officials, giving new details on the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed, say he had an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol nearby when Navy SEALs found him.

The details came as President Barack Obama decided not to release graphic photographs of bin Laden's corpse, and planned to lay a wreath at New York's Ground Zero national memorial to the victims and rescuers in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

When the SEAL commandos made their way up the stairs of bin Laden's fortified compound in Pakistan, bin Laden's son Khalid lunged toward them and they killed him, administration officials said.

When they reached the top floor, they entered a room and saw bin Laden with an AK-47 assault rifle and a Makarov semiautomatic pistol within arm's reach, the officials told The New York Times.

They shot and killed him and wounded a woman who was with him, the officials said.

The account does not say whether bin Laden reached for either weapon.

The new details indicated the 40-minute raid, though chaotic and bloody, was extremely one-sided, with more than 20 SEALs quickly dispatching the handful of men protecting bin Laden, the Times said.

The only shots fired by those in the compound came at the beginning of the operation when bin Laden courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti opened fire from behind the door of the guesthouse next to the house where bin Laden was hiding, the officials said.

After the SEALs shot and killed Kuwaiti and a woman in the guesthouse, no more shots were fired at the Americans, the officials told the Times.

Administration officials said the account of events changed during the past few days because it's taken time to get thorough after-action reports from the SEAL team, officially known as U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

"When we needed to clarify some of the information that we had as more information came in, we've provided that," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday.

When asked if this was the final clarification, Carney said he wouldn't "draw any lines like that -- it would be foolish to." He said the White House had "been as forthcoming with facts as we can be."

The administration Tuesday corrected parts of its initial account of the raid, including assertions bin Laden had used his wife as a "human shield."

Regarding the photos of bin Laden's body, Obama told the CBS News program "60 Minutes" Wednesday, "It is very important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool," a transcript released by the network stated.

"That's not who we are," Obama said. "You know, we don't trot out this stuff as trophies." He also said, "We don't need to spike the football.

"Certainly there's no doubt among al-Qaida members that he is dead. And so we don't think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again."

Obama plans Thursday to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the forthcoming Sept. 11 memorial and museum. He is also to meet with relatives of the victims of the terrorist attacks but does not plan to make a speech, the White House said.

He is to travel Friday to Fort Campbell, Ky., to speak to troops returning from Afghanistan. The fort is home to the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers.

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday bin Laden's killing "was justified as an act of national self-defense," citing bin Laden's role as the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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