Just weeks after the U.S. took down Osama bin Laden, ABC News has released a new video eBook diving deep into the story of the mission, bin Laden's rise to power, the impact of his acts of terrorism on the U.S. and the world, and the future of al Qaeda.
"TARGET: Bin Laden – The Death and Life of Public Enemy Number One," by ABC News' Terry Moran, Martha Raddatz, Nick Schifrin, Brian Ross and Jake Tapper, is available for sale on the iBooks, Kindle and Nook eBook stores.
What follows is an exclusive excerpt from "TARGET: Bin Laden," a complete chapter by ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jake Tapper.
Chapter Six: The President Takes Aim
By Jake Tapper
There's a third family living in the compound, the CIA director told the president. And we think it could be the bin Ladens.
President Obama took in this news.
This was, potentially, huge. It was certainly the U.S. government's best lead on Osama bin Laden since 2001, when the terrorist leader had eluded U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora. That was more than nine years ago.
President Obama was sitting in the Oval Office with CIA Director Leon Panetta, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, and other members of his national security team. They were following up on a lead Panetta first shared with the president in August: after years of hunting, the agency had finally located a man called Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, thought to be bin Laden's favorite courier.
Al-Kuwaiti had received a phone call captured by intelligence agencies, one that must have seemed benign enough at the time. It was a friend of al-Kuwaiti's, calling to catch up. What was he up to?
"I'm back with the people I was with before," Al-Kuwaiti said.
That call allowed intelligence agents to trace al-Kuwaiti back to a compound in Pakistan. And this was where it got even more interesting.
Al-Kuwaiti's home was like a fortress, Panetta told the president, with highly unusual security features. Twelve- to-eighteen-foot walls surrounded the compound and a seven-foot wall blocked any view of the third-floor terrace. He said the agency would work to find out more.
CIA officers figured out that in addition to al-Kuwaiti, his wife, and children, and al-Kuwaiti's brother and family, a third family was skulking about, an "unaccounted for" family. Who were they? Why did they never leave the house? Why would they need a seven-foot wall on the terrace of the third floor?
The sketchy information they had about this third family matched one of the scenarios analysts had described for bin Laden, that he was living with his youngest wife, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada.
The president heard the information and told Panetta not only to keep gathering intelligence, but to start preparing options for what the CIA and the U.S. military could do if they were to become more certain bin Laden was at the compound in Abbottabad. He wanted to act. He wanted bin Laden dead.