Washington May 2: US President Barack Obama signed the death warrant for the world's most wanted man Osama bin-Laden on April 29, after months of preparations and meticulous planning against the highest-value target.
Obama was actively involved in reviewing all facets of the operation, a senior Administration official said, adding that the President gave the final go ahead for the secret operation at 8:20am on April 29th in the Diplomatic Room before he left for Alabama.
Present in the White House's Dip Room was his National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who then prepared the formal orders and convened the meeting at 3pm the same day to complete the planning.
The White House staff held several rounds of meetings on Sunday in anticipation of the unfolding events, reviewing all the pros and cons.
At about 2 p.m. Obama met his top advisors to review and ratify the final orders. At 3:32pm he returned to the Situation Room for an additional briefing. At 3:50 pm the President first learns that Laden was tentatively identified.
At 7:01 pm Obama learns that there's a “high probability” the high value target was Osama bin Laden. The President received the good news at 8-30 p.m., after which reporters were asked to rush to the White House saying that the US President was to make an important announcement later in the night.
In the initial days of the administration, the President had informally instructed the intelligence community to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden as a top priority. It was on June 2009 that Obama signed a memo to CIA Director Leon Panetta stating “in order to ensure that we have expanded every effort, I direct you to provide me within 30 days a detailed operation plan for locating and bringing to Justice Osama bin Ladin.”
In the lead up to this operation, Obama convened at least nine meetings with his national security team. Principals met formally an additional five times themselves; and their Deputies met seven times. This was in addition to countless briefings on the subject during Obama's intelligence briefings; and frequent consultations between the various wings of his national security team, including the National Security Council, CIA and Department of Defence.
Since March, Obama held at least five meetings of his national security team on this issue - March 14, March 29, April 12, April 19 and April 28.“The President gave the final order to pursue the operation on the morning of April 29,” a senior administration official said.
Based on intelligence information, a special US team found Osama bin Laden living in a large home compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad.“Raid occurred in early morning hours of Pakistan and accomplished its objectives. Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to America,” the official said, adding that this could
not have happened without persistent effort and careful planning over many years. PTI