BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It was a daring mission, years in the making that involved spies, secret intelligence and the most elite members of the U.S. armed forces.
Now we’re learning that the White House wasn’t even 100 percent sure they had Osama bin Laden until he was dead.
Kai Jackson has more.
After months of studying satellite photos of the compound, CIA analysts concluded there was only a 60-80 percent chance bin Laden was really there.
The photos were vague. They showed a man walking the courtyard of the compound under surveillance, but it was impossible to tell whether it was bin Laden. Analysts zeroed in on the pattern of daily life of the family in the main building. It was the same number of members as bin Laden’s family. None of them ever left the fortress-like compound.
“The president had to evaluate the strength of that information and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory,” said Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan.
Once the order was given to move in, the SEALS headed into the compound. A snag forced them to blast their way inside. They moved up to the second and third floors, where they found bin Laden and his family.
The White House says the terrorist leader resisted, but he was unarmed.
“I think we…we always assumed from the beginning that the likelihood was that he was gonna be killed,” said CIA Director Leon Panetta. “But if, perchance, he were to be captured, I think the approach was to take him quickly to Bagram, transfer him to a ship off shore and then have the principals at the White House decide what next steps would be taken.”
Video released after the raid showed dishes, carpets and clothing scattered on the floor of one of the buildings.
The White House says they do have photos of bin Laden’s body and his burial at sea, but they’re still debating whether to release them.
“It’s fair to say that it’s a gruesome photograph,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney. “It could be inflammatory.”
Bin Laden’s wife was shot in the calf after rushing at the SEALS. Another woman was killed after getting caught in the crossfire.
The SEALS returned to Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, where they were debriefed on the raid.