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White House: Bin Laden unarmed during assault

Bin Laden's wife was not a human shield: reports

Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was confronted by U.S. commandos at his Pakistani hideout but tried to resist the assault, the White House said Tuesday as new details emerged about the audacious raid that killed the world's most wanted terrorist.

The White House said it was considering whether to release photos that were taken of bin Laden after he was killed but was concerned that the photos were ``gruesome'' and could be inflammatory.

Other details that emerged on Tuesday, according to U.S. officials: One of bin Laden's wives tried to rush the commandos and was shot in the leg. High temperatures caused a lumbering helicopter carrying the raiders to make a hard landing. And as Navy SEALs swept through the compound, they handcuffed those they encountered with plastic zip ties and pressed on in pursuit of their target, code-named ``Geronimo.'' Geronimo was a famously elusive Native American chief.

Once bin Laden had been shot, the raiders doubled back to move the prisoners away from the compound before blowing up the downed helicopter.

The fuller picture of the high-stakes assault emerged as U.S. officials weighed whether to release video and photos of bin Laden, who was killed with a shot above his left eye.Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and revealed some of the new details about the raid, said she'd known about the suspected bin Laden compound since last December _ offering rare evidence that Washington can indeed keep a blockbuster secret.

President Barack Obama made plans to go to the World Trade Center site in New York on Thursday to mark the milestone of bin Laden's demise and to remember the dead of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that were blamed on his al-Qaida militant group.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the U.S. was scouring items seized in the raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan _ said to include hard drives, DVDs, a pile of documents and more _ that might tip U.S. intelligence to al Qaida's operational details and perhaps lead to the presumed next-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Osama Bin Laden (AP-Yonhap)
Osama Bin Laden (AP-Yonhap)

As for publicly releasing photos and video, Brennan said in a series of appearances on morning television that ``this needs to be done thoughtfully,'' with careful consideration given to what kind of reaction the images might provoke.

At issue were photos of bin Laden's corpse and video of his swift burial at sea. Officials were reluctant to inflame Islamic sentiment by showing graphic images of the body. But they were also anxious to address the stories already building in Pakistan and beyond that bin Laden was somehow still alive.

In a move that could increase pressure for the release of photos, Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah said talk of bin Laden's death was ``premature,'' adding that the U.S. had not presented ``convincing evidence,'' the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Obama, who approved the extraordinarily risky operation and witnessed its progression from the White House Situation Room, his face heavy with tension, reaped accolades from world leaders he'd kept in the dark as well as from political opponents at home.

Pakistan, however, called the raid ``unauthorized'' Tuesday and said it shouldn't serve as a precedent for future actions.

CIA Director Leon Panetta, in interviews with Time and PBS' ``Newshour,'' sketched the scene in the Situation Room as the tense final minutes of the raid played out.

``Once those teams went into the compound,'' he told PBS, ``I can tell you there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn't know just exactly what was going on.''

Then, Panetta told Time, when Adm. William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Forces Command, reported that the commandos had identified ``Geronimo'' _ the code name for bin Laden _ ``all the air we were holding came out.''

And when the helicopters left the compound 15 minutes later, Panetta said, the room broke into applause.

Carney filled in details about the assault, saying that bin Laden did resist the commandos, although he was not armed. One of bin Laden's wives, Carney said, was in the room and tried to charge at the U.S. assaulters.

Monday night, Republican and Democratic leaders gave Obama a standing ovation at an evening White House meeting that was planned before the raid but became a celebration of it, and an occasion to step away from the fractious political climate.

The episode was an embarrassment, at best, for Pakistani authorities as bin Laden's presence was revealed in their midst. The stealth U.S. operation played out in a city with a strong Pakistani military presence and without advance notice from Washington.

Questions persisted in the administration and grew in Congress about whether some elements of Pakistan's security apparatus might have been in collusion with al-Qaida in letting bin Laden hide in Abbottabad.

Brennan asked the question that was reverberating around the world: ``How did Osama bin Laden stay at that compound for six years or so and be undetected?''

``We have many, many questions about this,'' he said. ``And I know Pakistani officials do as well.''

Brennan said Pakistani officials were trying to determine ``whether there were individuals within the Pakistani government or military intelligence services who were knowledgeable.'' He questioned in particular why bin Laden's compound hadn't come to the attention of local authorities.

Feinstein, for her part, said Congress may consider docking the almost $1.3 billion dollars in annual aid to Pakistan if it turns out the Islamabad government knew bin Laden's whereabouts.

In an article published Tuesday by The Washington Post, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari denied suggestions his country's security forces may have sheltered bin Laden, and said their cooperation with the United States helped pinpoint his whereabouts.

As Americans rejoiced, they worried, too, that terrorists would be newly motivated to lash out. In their wounded rage, al-Qaida ideologues fed that concern. ``By God, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam,'' one prominent al-Qaida commentator vowed. ``Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them: Let us wait a little bit.''

In that vein, U.S. officials warned that bin Laden's death was likely to encourage attacks from ``homegrown violent extremists'' even if al-Qaida is not prepared to respond in a coordinated fashion now.

U.S. officials say the photographic evidence shows bin Laden was shot above his left eye, blowing away part of his skull.

He was also shot in the chest, they said. This occurred near the end of a frenzied firefight in a high-walled Pakistani compound where helicopter-borne U.S. forces found 23 children, nine women, a bin Laden courier who had unwittingly led the U.S. to its target, a son of bin Laden who was also slain, and more.

Bin Laden could have lived at the fortified compound for up to six years, putting him far from the lawless and harsh Pakistani frontier where he had been assumed to be hiding out.

U.S. officials said the information that ultimately led to bin Laden's death originally came from detainees held in secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe. There, agency interrogators were told of an alias used by a courier whom bin Laden particularly trusted.

(AP and news reports)



백악관 "빈 라덴, 사살 당시 무장하지 않아"(종합)

여성을 인간방패로 활용했는지도 불확실, 사살 정당성 논란일 듯

미군 특수부대가 1일 새벽(파키스탄 현지시간) 오사마 빈 라덴의 은신처를 급습했을 당시 빈 라덴은 당초 알려진 것과 달리 무장하지 않았다고 백악관이 3일 밝혔다.

또 빈 라덴이 자신의 부인으로 여겨지는 여성을 인간방패로 활용했다는 주장도 불확실한 것으로 확인됐다.

이에 따라 미군이 애초부터 빈 라덴을 생포할 생각없이 사살하는데 역점을 둔 것 아니냐는 주장이 힘을 얻으면서 논란을 불러올 것으로 보인다.

제이 카니 백악관 대변인은 이날 정례 브리핑에서 일부 정부 관계자들이 빈 라덴의 최후의 순간을 설명하면서 그가 무기를 소지한 채 저항했다고 주장했으나 실제로는 현장을 급습한 미 해군 특수부대 요원들과 빈 라덴이 마주한 순간 빈 라덴은 무기를 지니고 있지 않았다고 말했다.

카니 대변인은 특수부대원들이 빈 라덴이 은신한 건물에 진입한 직후 1층에서 여성 1명을 포함해 3명을 사살했고 이어 위층을 수색해 나가면서 빈 라덴을 찾아냈을 때 그는 무장하지 않은 상태였다고 설명했다.

카니 대변인은 빈 라덴이 저항하던 과정에서 사살됐다고 강조하고 "저항할 때 무기를 지니고 있어야 하는 것은 아니라고 생각한다"고 말했다.

무장하지 않은 상태였던 빈 라덴을 생포하지 않고 현장에서 사살한 이유가 무엇이냐는 질문에 카니 대변인은 "가능하다면 그를 생포할 준비가 돼 있었지만 상당한 정도의 저항이 있었고, 그곳에는 빈 라덴 외에도 무장한 다른 사람들이 있었다"고 답했다.

빈 라덴이 있던 방에는 무장한 다른 인물이 없지 않았느냐는 지적에 대해 카니 대변인은 "당시는 매 순간 언제라도 총격전이 벌어질 수 있는 상황이었고 미군 특수부대 요원들은 고도의 전문성에 입각해 현장 상황에 대처했다"면서 "빈 라덴은 저항했기 때문에 미군의 작전중 사살된 것"이라고 말했다.

그는 그러나 빈 라덴이 어떻게 저항했는지에 대해서는 구체적으로 설명하지 않았다.

카니 대변인은 또 빈 라덴의 부인이 미군 특수요원들에게 덤벼들었으며, 이 여성은 다리에 총상을 입었으나 죽지는 않았다고 말했다.

애초에는 빈 라덴이 여성을 인간방패로 삼았다는 주장이 나왔으나 카니 대변인은 여성을 인간방패로 삼았는지 여부는 불확실하다고 말했다.

앞서 존 브레넌 백악관 대테러담당 보좌관은 2일 브리핑에서 빈 라덴의 최후 순간을 설명하면서 빈 라덴이 저항했으며 무기를 지니고 있었지만, 미 특수부대 요원들에게 총격을 가했는지는 확실치 않다고 말했다.

따라서 미국 특수부대 요원들이 무장하지 않은 빈 라덴의 머리에 총격을 가하고 확인 사살까지 했다는 것은, 애초부터 빈 라덴을 죽이는데 역점을 뒀다는 비판을 불러올 것으로 보인다.

한편 리언 파네타 미 중앙정보국(CIA) 국장은 이날 CBS방송과의 인터뷰에서 "우리는 처음부터 빈 라덴이 사살될 공산이 큰 것으로 가정했다"고 밝혀 주목을 끌었다.

파네타 국장은 "만일 그를 생포한다면 아프가니스탄의 바그람 공군기지로 신병을 신속히 이송하고 이후 미군 함정으로 옮긴 다음 백악관의 후속조치 지시를 기다렸을 것"이라고 말했다.

그는 "작전개시에 앞서 백악관에서 버락 오바마 대통령과 수차례 논의를 계속했다"면서 "문제는 빈 라덴이 생포작전에 저항할 것이라는 점이며, 실제로 작전중 총격전이 벌어졌고 이 과정에서 빈 라덴이 사살돼 그의 시신을 수습해 철수하게 된 것"이라고 밝혔다.