U.S. Leaders: determined to destroy Al-Qaeda

Picture from outside compound in Pakistan / FOX Newschannel

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- U.S. officials hope to build on the killing of Osama bin Laden to destroy the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan telling NBC's "Today" show the Obama administration is determined "to pummel the rest of al-Qaeda." Brennan adding the organization already has suffered "severe body blows."

He also said in Tuesday's interview that "clearly there was some kind of support network" for bin Laden inside Pakistan. Brennan declined to blame the Pakistani government for that, calling Islamabad "a strong counterterrorism partner." But he also said the Pakistani government is conducting its own investigation into how bin Laden dodged authorities for so long. Brennan said it is "unknown at this point" whether individuals inside the Pakistani government were helping bin Laden.

In a statement Monday, CIA Director Leon Panetta praised what he described as the "outstanding expertise, amazing creativity and excellent tradecraft" in tracking down and launching the military strike that killed bin Laden. Panetta, who is preparing to take over the Pentagon as the new U.S. defense secretary, also praised the Navy Seal team that took bin Laden down in a bun battle early Monday.

Panetta called bin Laden "the most infamous terrorist of our time." He added: "We have struck a heavy blow against the enemy. The only leader they have ever known, whose hateful vision gave rise to their atrocities, is no more. The supposedly uncatchable one has been caught and killed."

Sunday night President Barack Obama confirmed that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States.


A small team of Americans carried out the attack and took custody of bin Laden's remains, the President said Sunday in a dramatic late-night statement at the White House.

The stunning end to the world's most widely-watched manhunt came as a result of dogged and sometimes frustrating intelligence work ever since Sept. 11, 2001.

Officials say one key was a trusted Osama bin Laden courier they thought might be living with the al-Qaida mastermind. In November, intelligence officials found out where the courier was living, a huge fortified compound in Pakistan, not far from Islamabad.

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Intelligence officials believed the $1 million home was custom-built to harbor a major terrorist and eventually concluded it must be bin Laden.

The White House says President Barack Obama convened at least nine meetings with top national security officials in the lead-up to the raid.

Officials say the final operation was so secret that no foreign officials were informed and only a small circle in Washington was aware of it.

Now, Navy SEALs are being told to keep the details to themselves after the famous military special operations group killed bin Laden.

The Navy officer in charge of the elite unit told his troops Monday that they should be proud but keep quiet about it. In an email message obtained by The Associated Press, Rear Adm. Ed Winters also says the fight is not over, and sharing too many details can endanger the next operation.

A unit of specially trained SEALS known as SEAL Team 6 stormed a secret compound in Pakistan overnight. The operation involved a small number of U.S. forces and lasted about 40 minutes.

One officials close to the operation says bin Laden went down firing at the Navy SEALs who stormed the compound. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because aspects of the operation remain classified.

The SEALs left with bin Laden's body and unspecified evidence gathered at the scene, according to military leaders

A jubilant crowd gathered outside the White House as word spread of bin Laden's death after a global manhunt that lasted nearly a decade.

"Justice has been done," said President Obama.

South Carolina political leaders are also weighing in on the monumental event.

"Justice has been served. While this does not mean the War on Terror is over, it is positive news and a great credit to the men and women fighting our enemies, day in and day out," says Governor Nikki Haley via her Twitter account.

As of Monday morning, the FBI updated its list of Most Wanted terrorists to note that Osama bin Laden is dead. Its website -- with details about bin Laden and the $27 million being offered in rewards -- now includes a large red-and-white "deceased" label atop bin Laden's photograph.

Nine other highly sought after terrorists are still included on the FBI's list, including bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. The U.S. government also is offering a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction. Private groups had added $2 million in rewards on top of the $25 million bounty placed on bin Laden.

This is a great day for America and a tremendous victory in the global war on terror. Justice has been served," said Congressman James Clyburn. "Congratulations to President Obama, the intelligence community, the team who conducted the successful operation and the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought over the last decade in the war against al Qaeda and its affiliates."

The body of bin Laden was quickly buried at sea, and his identity confirmed through DNA testing, according to U.S. officials. President Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial.

"Events such as this do not happen accidentally and require great personal sacrifice and courage. God bless those who put themselves in harm TMs way to bring about this long-overdue day of justice," said Senator Lindsey Graham via his Facebook page.

USC Journalism School dean Charles Bierbauer also weighed on on the death on Good Day Columbia Monday morning. Click here to watch the interview.

What do you think about the death of Osama Bin Laden? Is it a major victory that makes us all safer or is it a symbolic win that doesn't have much of an impact on the larger war against terrorism? Vote in our poll below and leave a comment to weigh in.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)