Bin Laden: Al-Qaeda leader was unarmed when shot - US

The BBC's Orla Guerin looks around the perimeter of Bin Laden's compound

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed by US troops on Sunday after resisting capture, the White House has said.

The CIA said it did not tell Pakistan about the raid in advance over fears it would jeopardise the mission.

Pakistan denies any prior knowledge of the raid - its intelligence agency says it is embarrassed by its failures.

US officials say they have not yet decided when to release the "gruesome" photos of Bin Laden's body.

But CIA director Leon Panetta told NBC News there was "no question" the image would be released at some point.

Bin Laden, aged 54, was the founder and leader of al-Qaeda. He is believed to have ordered the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, as well as a number of other deadly bombings.

Al-Qaeda clues

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Bin Laden's wife "rushed" the first US assaulter who entered the room where they were, and was shot in the leg but not killed.

On Monday, White House officials said the woman was killed in the firefight after Bin Laden used her as a human shield.

They later said one woman had died in the raid but had been "caught in the crossfire". Two couriers were also killed.


Clearly there were people helping Bin Laden in this location... were they state employees, were they simply from Taliban-related groups, were they from the intelligence agencies?

For all Americans may ask the questions, I doubt they will get any answers. There will be ambiguity about this and the Pakistanis will deny they had any knowledge whatsoever.

The establishment here is made up of army leadership, intelligence agency leadership and some senior civil servants, and they have always run Pakistan, whether democratic governments or military governments, and those people do have connections with jihadis.

The difficulty the West has is in appreciating there are more than 20 different types of jihadi organisations, and al-Qaeda is just one of them. The state has different policies towards different types of group and that subtlety is often lost on Western policy-makers.

"We expected a great deal of resistance and were met with a great deal of resistance. There were many other people who were armed in the compound," Mr Carney said.

Bin Laden himself then resisted the troops and was shot dead, but was not armed, he added.

The CIA is already examining material seized in the raid, including computer hard drives, DVDs and other documents.

No decision had yet been taken on whether to release a photograph of Bin Laden's body, Mr Carney said, conceding that the image was "pretty gruesome" and could inflame some sensitivities.

But Mr Panetta later said the government was in talks about the best way to do so.

"I don't think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public," he said.

An image which was widely distributed on the internet purporting to show Bin Laden's corpse has been determined to be a fake.

In a Time magazine article, billed as Mr Panetta's first interview since Bin Laden was killed, he said the CIA had "ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on".

It reports him as saying that "it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission. They might alert the targets".

Pakistan received $1.3bn (£786m) in US military and humanitarian aid last year, and provides logistical support for the Nato mission in Afghanistan. However, relations between Islamabad and Washington have been strained by US suspicions that the ISI is covertly backing militants in Afghanistan, and by anger over US drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas.

Pakistan's foreign ministry has defended the ISI and issued a lengthy statement in which it expressed "deep concerns and reservations" about the unilateral US action.

Insisting that unilateral action should not become the norm, the ministry stressed that Pakistani intelligence had been sharing information with the US in recent years.

"As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: Bin Laden not armed, but did resist

Earlier, an ISI official told the BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad that the agency raided the compound in Abbottabad, just 100km (62 miles) from the capital, when it was under construction. It was believed an al-Qaeda operative, Abu Faraj al-Libi, was there.

But since then, "the compound was not on our radar, it is an embarrassment for the ISI", the official said. "We're good, but we're not God."

The compound is about a kilometre from the Pakistan Military Academy - the country's equivalent of Sandhurst or West Point.

The US has not commented on anyone it captured or had planned to capture, other than saying it had taken Bin Laden's body.

However, the Pakistani foreign ministry statement said that the rest of Bin Laden's family are now "in safe hands and being looked after in accordance with the law".

Earlier, in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, President Asif Ali Zardari admitted Bin Laden "was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be".

But he denied the killing suggested Pakistan was failing in its efforts to tackle terrorism.

Diagram of the compound

More on This Story

Bin Laden killed

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More South Asia stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.