Washington, May 3: The Operation Kill Osama ended with the coded message GERONIMO-E KIA, "Geronimo" was the mission, "E" stood for enemy and "KIA" meant killed in action.
Bin Laden's code name was “Geronimo”
The first indication for President Obama that Osama bin Laden had been killed came when a Navy SEAL sent back the coded message to Washington that said simply, "Geronimo-E KIA."
Geronimo was the code name for the operation that sent two teams of 12 SEALS zooming by Blackhawk helicopters to a walled compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, on Sunday to kill or capture the most wanted man in the world.
Anxious White House officials weren't positive that they would find bin Laden in the fortress-like complex, that he might leave while the SEALS were en route.
The first encouraging word came at the beginning of the raid when the SEALS recognized the man who had eluded a U.S. manhunt for a decade.
They sent back the message, "Geronimo."
After a 40-minute search of the compound, punctuated by firefights, bin Laden was dead, and the cryptic "Geronimo-E KIA" code sent relief through the White House. E stood for enemy and KIA for killed in action.
As information from the operation targeting Osama bin Laden flowed into the Situation Room on Sunday afternoon, President Obama exclaimed "We got him," based on what he was hearing and seeing, according to a senior administration official.
Bin Laden was shot twice, once in the head and once in the chest, a senior administration official told ABC News.
The SEALS words, however, were not sufficient proof that the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks was finally dead. As the evidence piled up -- verbal ID, face recognition analysis and DNA matches -- the White House debate continued. Obama ended the discussion with a terse, "We got him."
White House senior officials were still sorting through the details today of the dramatic U.S. raid on bin Laden in Pakistan.
Counterterrorism chief John Brennan told reporters that while bin Laden had vowed to go down fighting, in his last moments alive the master terrorist hid behind a woman.
The woman who bin Laden tried to use as a human shield was killed in the U.S. raid, Brennan said. Whether she shielded him willingly is not known.
Brennan said the woman was one of bin Laden's wives, but defense officials said it wasn't clear whether the woman was a bin Laden wife.
The force that swooped down on the world's most wanted terrorist has been identified as SEAL Team Six of the "Naval Special Warfare Development Group."
Brennan, a senior advisor on homeland security, said they were trying to "accomplish the mission safely and securely" for those involved and were not going to give bin Laden a chance to fire back on U.S. forces.
"He was engaged, and he was killed in the process," Brennan said. "If we had the opportunity to take him alive we would have done that."
Brennan called this operation a "defining moment" in war against terrorist groups where they "decapitated the head of the snake."
The three to four hours Sunday night when operation was ongoing, Brennan described as "one of the most anxiety-filled times" and that "minutes passed like days."
Brennan acknowledged that there were some who didn't think the president should have pulled the trigger on the operation to go after bin Laden, who believed it was too risky, it was not guaranteed that bin Laden was there or had concerns that the mission would not succeed.
Administration officials are now trying to decide whether to release photos of bin Laden's corpse. Releasing the photos would prove that the terror leader is dead, but some officials fear the gruesome nature of the pictures could fan anti-American sentiment.