Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist, was killed in Pakistan as the result of a U.S. military operation, President Obama announced to the nation Sunday night.
The historic revelation comes about four months before the 10th anniversary of the devastating Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, which were executed by the Al Qaeda network helmed by Bin Laden and prompted the start of a war on terror that has dominated U.S. foreign policy.
Bin Laden, 54, was a member of a wealthy Saudi family and has been on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List since 1999.
Bin Laden broke with Saudi leaders over their beliefs regarding Israel. He was eventually denounced by his family and gave up citizenship.
Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the bombings of U.S. embassies in 1998 in Tanzania and Kenya. More than 200 people were killed in the attacks.
Al Qaeda has also claimed responsibility for other attacks on other symbols of U.S. power around the globe. It has spawned local organizations in hot spots from Iraq to Afghanistan.
The announcement by Obama from the East Room of the White House came eight years to the day after President Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the so-called “Mission Accomplished” speech from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
Members of Congress were briefed on the news by Vice President Joe Biden throughout the weekend, according to a Senate aide.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, related the news to mourners at a memorial service for political consultant Kam Kuwata. Feinstein said Obama was announcing it on TV as she spoke. However, she announced the news well before Obama began to speak.
Peter Nicholas and Kathleen Hennessey contributed to this report