Three US presidents hunted bin Laden

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by US forces in Pakistan on Monday.

Washington: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by US forces in Pakistan on Monday.

Former US President George W Bush, who was in office at the time of the September 11 attacks and famously said he wanted bin Laden dead or alive, called the death of the al Qaeda leader a "momentous achievement."

Here are some quotes from the last three US presidents on their efforts to "get" the al Qaeda leader.

President Bill Clinton:

"Our mission was clear - to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organiser and financier of international terrorism in the world today," Bill Clinton said in August 1998 when he ordered US cruise missile strikes on what he called terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan, in response to the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

After leaving office, Bill Clinton said in September 2001 his administration had authorised the arrest or killing of bin Laden but lacked adequate intelligence to carry it out.

"I authorised the arrest and, if necessary, the killing of Osama bin Laden and we actually made contact with a group in Afghanistan to do it," he said. "We also trained commandos for a possible ground action but we did not have the necessary intelligence to do it in the way we would have had to do it."

President George W Bush:

"We get all kinds of reports - that he`s in a cave, that he`s not in a cave; that he`s escaped, that he hasn`t escaped, and there`s all kinds of speculation. But when the dust clears, we`ll find out where he is and he`ll be brought to justice," Bush told reporters in December 2001.

* The same month, Bush said he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive, either way. It doesn`t matter to me. I don`t know whether we`re going to get him tomorrow, or a month from now, or a year from now. I really don`t know. But we`re going to get him.... He may hide for a while, but we`ll get him."

President Barack Obama:

Obama said in September 2010 that finding bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri remained a high priority.

"Capturing or killing bin Laden and Zawahri would be extremely important to our national security," Obama said.

"It doesn`t solve all our problems but it remains a high priority to this administration."

Bureau Report