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Osama bin Laden dead after U.S. raid in Pakistan

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WASHINGTON (ABC7, AP) - Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States, President Barack Obama said Sunday.

Osama bin Laden is shown in this Dec. 24, 1998 file photo. (Photo: Associated Press)

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

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability," Obama said. "No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

After bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan, senior administration officials said the body was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. 

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," the president said. "I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done."

Officials long believed bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world, was hiding in a mountainous region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The development comes just months before the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, orchestrated by bin Laden's al-Qaida organization, that killed more than 3,000 people.

The attacks set off a chain of events that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, and America's entire intelligence apparatus was overhauled to counter the threat of more terror attacks at home.

Al-Qaida organization was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 231 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.

"The American people did not choose this fight," Obama said. "It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war."

ABC7 News has confirmed from multiple military sources that the 145 members of the Marine's Chemical Biological Incident Response Force team are being withdrawn from Japan and headed home to be prepared to respond to any emergency related to Bin Laden's death.

The team was expected to remain in Japan till the end of May.

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, meanwhile,  said the department is raising its profile similar to the New York Police Department's following Bin Laden's death. The heightened presence will be seen and unseen, according to Lanier.

Obama said the job of securing the nation isn't done. But he also reaffirmed that the United States isn't fighting a battle with Islam.

"We must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam," Obama said. "I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims."

According to the Associated Press, following the news of bin Laden's death, members of Maryland's congressional delegation are issuing statements of praise.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski said in a statement early Monday that bin Laden's death marks "a historic day for our country." She added, however, that "the hateful ideology he espouses will persist" and that "terrorists will continue to harbor predatory intent toward the United States."

Sen. Ben Cardin called bin Laden's death "an important milestone in the fight against terrorism." He also cautioned that the country "must remain vigilant in the continued fight against al-Qaeda and any terrorists who seek to harm our nation."

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