An exciting insider account of the vast, secretive effort to track and kill the al-Qaeda leader.
Shortly after coming into office, President Obama urged CIA Chief Leon Panetta to redouble the efforts to find Osama bin Laden; the trail had grown cold despite the dozen high-level intelligence officers working on the case for a decade. Only in 2010 did the monitoring of a Kuwaiti courier’s cellphone use suggest ties to bin Laden, and they followed his car to the compound in the quiet Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where he actually lived with bin Laden's extended family. A CIA safe house was set up nearby to observe the “pattern of life” details: the wives and children living at the compound and never leaving, the wash hanging on the line, the mysterious “pacer” who walked around the “jail yard” and never left. In fact, bin Laden had lived there for years, increasingly isolated and out of touch with his network and with only the Kuwaiti and his brother as guards and conduits to the outside world. CNN national security analyst Bergen (The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda, 2011, etc.) ably delineates the U.S. government decision-making process in pursuing the Special Operations infiltration of the compound, despite the lack of certainty that bin Laden was actually there. Officials also had to consider America’s delicate relationship with Pakistan. In three weeks of rehearsal, SEAL teams manipulated every eventuality, even the helicopter mishap that actually happened. Bergen also stresses the enormity of the political risks undertaken by Obama and his staff, and he pursues the aftermath in terms of wounded Pakistan-U.S. relations and the spelling of the “twilight” for al-Qaeda.
A compelling story, told with authority, of the final takedown of likely the most wanted criminal in history.