Washington, May 3: The 'Abbottabad operation' against Osama bin Laden was planned till the last minute detail by the US intelligence and the American naval Seals had been told to avoid chances of any engagement with Pakistani forces.
And top White House officials heaved a huge sigh of relief when the four US military helicopters were out of Pakistan air space just in the nick of time as clueless authorities in Islamabad were scrambling fighters to intercept them.
"The Operation was designed to minimise the chances of engagement with Pakistani forces," John Brennan, President Barack Obama's Advisor on Counter-terrorism said.
"It was done very well," he said, adding that no Pakistani forces were engaged and there were no other individuals who were killed except those inside the compound.
Brennan's remarks came as other top US officials said that latest intelligence reports indicated that the al Qaeda chief had been living in the Abbottabad mansion for over six years.
He said Pakistani were only contacted after "all our people and aircraft were out of Pakistan airspace".
The US official said that at that time Pakistani's had begun reacting to the incidents that were taking place in Abbottabad. "Therefore, they were scrambling some of their assets."
"Clearly, we were concerned that if the Pakistanis decided to scramble jets or whatever else -- they didn't know who was on those jets. They had no idea about who might have been on there, whether it be US or somebody else," he said in response to a question.
"So we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of the Pakistani airspace, and thankfully there was no engagement with Pakistani forces," Brennan said.
US officials said in addition to bin Laden, one of his sons Khalid was killed in the raid while his wife got a shot in the calf, but survived
They said also killed in the raid were bin Laden's trusted personal courier Sheikh Abu Ahmed and his brother. 23 children and nine women who were also in the compound were handed over to Pakistan authorities.
Brennan said the Seal team which undertook the Operation believed that bin Laden had lived in the compound for six years.
The New York Times today said that the President Obama had been presented three options for the Abbottabad operation, a US team to capture or kill the suspect, launching some kind of surgical strike like a bombing raid or waiting for the development of further intelligence.
White House officials said the bombing run was discarded as it has a downside that it could cost civilian casualties and would leave little evidence as to the identity of those killed.
So, Obama took the option of a helicopter-borne raid as it would preserve the possibility of obtaining evidence. PTI