Bin Laden not killed in firefight

May 3, 2011 at 11:03 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- U.S. officials now say Osama bin Laden was not killed in a firefight, and was not armed when he died.

The officials backed away from a number of claims made about the Pakistan raid by U.S. SEALs that killed the al-Qaida founder and leader Sunday night.

Politico reported Tuesday that during an off-camera briefing late Monday officials confirmed a woman was among the five people killed in the raid, but said she was not bin Laden's wife and bin Laden had not used her as a human shield.

John Brennan, deputy national security adviser, told reporters during a televised news conference Monday that bin Laden was part of the firefight during the 40-minute operation at the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound.

And at a Pentagon briefing earlier in the day, a senior official said bin Laden was using the woman as a shield so he could fire off rounds -- "He was firing behind her" -- Politico reported. In another background briefing earlier Monday, an official said bin Laden was killed participating in the firefight.

However, Politico reported, a senior White House official said during the off-camera briefing later Monday that bin Laden was not armed when he was killed. A second official confirmed that fact to Politico.

A third official told Politico, "The bottom line is the team that entered that room was met with resistance and took appropriate action."

Though Monday night the White House refused to give details, an official confirmed bin Laden was shot twice, once in the head and once in the chest, the newspaper said.

Yet another official familiar with the operation said no woman was used as a human shield, but one woman was killed and one injured in the crossfire. Neither was bin Laden's wife.

At Monday's on-camera news conference, Brennan said bin Laden's son Khalid was killed, but the official White House transcript had another bin Laden son, Hamza, as killed, Politico reported.

The White House did not explain the discrepancy, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence teams were pouring over computers and data discovered during the raid in which al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed, officials said.

One official called the cache being examined in a secret location in Afghanistan as the "mother lode of intelligence," Politico reported Monday.

Hundreds of people were examining the computers, thumb drives, disks and other electronic equipment, one official said, adding, "It's going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable."

Two dozen Navy SEALs flew 150 miles in helicopters from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to Abbottabad, Pakistan, for the raid on the fortified compound where bin Laden was hiding.

The intelligence community examined information obtained during the raid to try to learn al-Qaida's intentions and the identities and location of key players within the terrorist organization, one official told CBS News.

The official said a key priority was dismantling al-Qaida's base and officials have turned their focus on Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's No. 2 man, and other top operatives posing a threat to Western interests.

"They got bin Laden but not the keys to the kingdom," the source said.

Law enforcement and intelligence officials were looking into the possible speeding up of a potential terror plot rising out of Pakistan, the official said. They're monitoring al-Qaida organizations and followers in other countries and within the United States.

Analysts have picked up "threads of threats" in recent months and said they captured pieces of information, mostly involving transportation, since bin Laden's death.

A law enforcement source told CBS News the law enforcement community is in a "heavy monitoring mode" but there is no indication of any operation at the moment in the United States or abroad.

"It is good and important that bin Laden was eliminated and that this is a blow to al-Qaida," the official said. "But it's not the end game."

In Pakistan, The U.S. Embassy and consulates closed indefinitely except for emergency citizens' services. The embassy in Islamabad warned U.S. citizens of possible demonstrations over bin Laden's death at any time in areas of Pakistani cities "perceived as Western."

Messages posted on Web sites used by radical Islamists expressed grief over the killing of bin Laden, with some vowing to exact revenge his death, CNN reported.

"Congratulations for dying as a martyr and a fighter in the sake of Allah," one message said.

"We won't cry today, but we will revenge. Men and women in America will cry," another read.

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