Raiders knew Osama mission a one-shot deal

Those who planned the secret mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

Updated: May 17, 2011, 19:47 PM IST

Washington: Those who planned the secret
mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a
one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

The US deliberately hid the operation from Pakistan,
and predicted that national outrage over the breach of
Pakistani sovereignty would make it impossible to try again if
the raid on bin Laden`s suspected redoubt came up dry.

Once the raiders reached their target, things started
to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the
operation said.
Adding exclusive new details to the account of the
assault on bin Laden`s hideout, officials described just how
the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right
outside bin Laden`s door, ruining the plan for a surprise
assault.

That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze
play on bin Laden simultaneously entering the house stealthily
from the roof and the ground floor.
Instead, they busted into the ground floor and began a
floor-by-floor storming of the house, working up to the top
level where they had assumed bin Laden, if he was in the
house, would be. They were right.

The raiders came face-to-face with bin Laden in a
hallway outside his bedroom, and three of the Americans
stormed in after him, US officials briefed on the operation said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to
describe a classified operation.

US officials believe Pakistani intelligence continues
to support militants who attack US troops in Afghanistan, and
actively undermine US intelligence operations to go after
al-Qaida inside Pakistan.

The level of distrust is such that keeping Pakistan in
the dark was a major factor in planning the raid, and led to
using the high-tech but sometimes unpredictable helicopter
technology that nearly unhinged the mission.

Pakistan`s government has since condemned the action,
and threatened to open fire if US forces enter again.

Yesterday, the two partners attempted to patch up
relations, agreeing to pursue high-value targets jointly.

The decision to launch on that particular moonless
night in May came largely because too many American officials
had been briefed on the plan. US officials feared if it leaked
to the press, bin Laden would disappear for another decade.

US special operations forces have made approximately
four forays into Pakistani territory since the Sept 11, 2001,
attacks, though this one, some 90 miles (145 kilometers)
inside Pakistan, was unlike any other, the officials say.

The job was given to a SEAL Team 6 unit, just back
from Afghanistan, one official said. This elite branch of
SEALs had been hunting bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan since
2001.

Bureau Report