A tense photo from the Situation Room on Sunday reveals the president along with top officials including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nervously watching two elite teams of Navy SEALS invading the compound of the al Qaeda mastermind. Biden nervously holds rosary beads, Clinton has her hand over her mouth and Obama's shoulders are raised.
The 24 SEALS, flew from Jalalabad towards the sprawling million dollar compound in Abbottabad in Blackhawk helicopters on Sunday.
One of the Blackhawk helicopters stalled, breaking a rotor on the 18 foot walls of the compound. The SEALS switched to plan B and brought in a Chinook helicopter.
The elite team engaged in a firefight with bin Laden's two trusted couriers, waking up neighbors.
"I heard gunfire around 1 a.m.," said Syed Riaz Hussein. "It was followed by a huge blast."
The SEALS moved to an upper floor where they found bin Laden. A woman with bin Laden may have been used as a human shield by bin Laden and was killed, Brennan said. Whether she shielded him willingly is not known.
Five people died, including bin Laden's son Khalid. Twelve to 15 others, including women and children, survived the raid. At least two women and two children who survived the raid have been taken to Islamabad.
The first indication for Obama that bin Laden had been killed came when a Navy SEAL sent back the coded message to Washington that said simply, "Geronimo-E KIA."
Geronimo was the code name for the operation. Anxious White House officials weren't positive that they would find bin Laden in the fortress-like complex, that he might leave while the SEALS were en route.
The first encouraging word came at the beginning of the raid when the SEALS recognized the man who had eluded a U.S. manhunt for a decade. They sent back the message, "Geronimo."
After a 40-minute search of the compound, punctuated by firefights, bin Laden was dead, and the cryptic "Geronimo-E KIA" code sent relief through the White House. E stood for enemy and KIA for killed in action.
The force that swooped down on the world's most wanted terrorist has been identified as SEAL Team Six of the "Naval Special Warfare Development Group."
Howard Wasdin is a former member of SEAL Team Six and said that this group of SEALS is handpicked and the best of the best.
"Forty minutes sounds like a short amount of time. The minutes the bullets start flying, it becomes an eternity. Anything over a two minute firefight is a long firefight. Forty minutes is a long time," Wasdin said.
Wasdin said the elite team trains and prepares for missions like this one every day. For the mission to kill bin Laden, the team practiced in a replica of the compound.
"Their mindset is just mission accomplishment…no chest pumping, no I'm going to be a hero, just accomplishing the mission, the task at hand, getting them and their people out alive," said Wasdin.
Bin Laden's body has washed and wrapped in white cloth according to Islamic custom and dropped into the Arabian Sea to avoid creating a shrine to the terrorist. Video of the burial at sea may also be released by the White House.
The next target for the United States is likely to be the number two in al Qaeda's chain of command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor, helped found al Qaeda along with bin Laden. Sources say intelligence officials will also likely target Anwar al-Awlaki, a former imam thought to be behind such attacks against the U.S. as the failed Christmas Day terror plot in 2009.
"The death of Osama bin Laden brings an important chapter to a close. Al Qaeda still has Ayman al-Zawahiri, number 2 in command, I assume now the number one in command," said Condoleezza Rice. "We know that they try everyday to plot and plan to kill us and so we can't lose focus and vigilance of the continuing terrorist presence…it's also important that Afghanistan not go back to failed state status which after all led to the kind of territorial integrity where Al Qaeda could plot and plan 9/11."
ABC News' Nick Schifrin, Habibullah Khan, Lauren Effron, Mike Boettcher, Richard Esposito, Jason Ryan, Brian Ross and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.