As details begin to emerge on the special operations forces undertaking that killed Osama bin Laden in the dead of night on Monday morning in Pakistan, the decision by the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to call on the Navy’s SEAL Team Six was a no-brainer.
“This operation played right into their sweet spot,” Kenneth Stethem, a former member of SEAL Team Six, told Newsmax. “It was the type of operation they have done before with a high success rate and low casualties.”
|Osama bin Laden
Based in Dam Neck, Va., and officially known as the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, SEAL Team Six trained for Monday’s operations for several months on a full-scale replica of the acre-large compound where bin Laden was hiding, White House sources said today.
“Time permitting, they would have done full-blown mission rehearsals, including navigation to and from the target,” Stethem told Newsmax.
SEAL Team MH-60 helicopters took off from Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, carrying Navy SEALs who flew into Pakistan from neighboring Afghanistan for the mission, White House sources revealed.
The raid itself took just 40 minutes, during which 22 people were killed or captured. Bin Laden's body was loaded onboard a SEAL Team’s helicopter to the Pakistani air base, where he was washed according to Muslim tradition and then sent to be buried at sea.
The fact that SEAL Team Six used a Pakistan air base raises questions as to whether the United States provided advanced warning to the Pakistani government before the raid.
For several months, the White House has publicly blamed Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates operating in Pakistan. Just last week, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen accused Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of working with the terrorists against the United States.
Given the apparent cooperation with Pakistan in the bin Laden operation, which President Obama acknowledged in his speech last night, some of the tensions may have been a ruse designed to provide cover to the Pakistani government and to throw the terrorists off base.
Many questions about the operation remain.
Obama revealed that the United States received a “possible lead” on bin Laden’s whereabouts in Abbottabad last August, but needed several months to track it down and solidify the intelligence.
Given all the satellite coverage of Pakistan, and the fact that bin Laden’s compound was specially designed and built for him in 2005, some insiders find it curious that the United States didn’t notice it earlier.
Once the compound did come into focus, U.S. satellites and Predator drones would have been able to detect all movement in and out of the building, including the movements of guards posted on the roofs at night.
“Whatever the reason for the timing, somebody just decided it was show time,” Stethem said.
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