With heavy cloud rolling in over the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, conditions were perfect for the raid to take out Osama bin Laden after ten years on the run. The previous night, the operation had been cancelled because the weather was clear and the U.S. aircraft would have been spotted from a distance.
But at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 2, 2011, the sleeping citizens were awoken by the clatter of four military helicopters thought to be two Black Hawks and two Chinooks.
They contained more than 100 elite commandos who had been training intensively for days at their airbase, Bagram in Afghanistan, using a detailed mock-up of Bin Laden’s hideaway constructed by the CIA. After dummy runs on April 7 and April 13, they flew to the Tarbela Ghazi airbase in north-west Pakistan, which the CIA has permission to use.
From there they swooped into Abbottabad, skimming over the tops of houses in the darkness with their lights off.
As soon as they realised what was happening, Bin Laden’s guards opened fire from the rooftop with rocket-propelled grenades and apparently managed to shoot down one of the Black Hawks.
As terrified townsfolk emerged from their homes to see what was going on, Pashto-speaking CIA agents told them to go back in and shut the doors.
Two dozen U.S. Navy Seals – special forces – wearing night-vision goggles dropped into the high-walled compound by sliding down ropes from Chinooks.
See a detailed map of the ambush and read more at the Daily Mail (UK).