In the dark of night, US helicopters ferrying Navy SEALs and other special forces flew to a secure, high-walled compound in Abbottabad, 30 miles north of Islamabad in Pakistan. Less than 40 minutes later, bin Laden and four others were dead in a raid, reports CNN in a chilling description of the daring assault on the most-wanted terrorist in the world. Years of work led intelligence agents to believe the $1 million compound—which Reuters calls "luxurious" and notes is about eight times bigger than neighboring homes—was built specifically to house and protect Osama bin Laden. Its construction close to the capital raises questions about whether Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden's location.
The key break came when US intelligence discovered one of bin Laden's trusted couriers two years ago and tracked him. Finally, last August they discovered the super-fortified compound where the courier and his brother lived. With a series of barbed-wire-topped walls up to 18 feet high, few windows, and no Internet or telephones, the compound was extremely secure. There was a third-floor terrace tucked behind a seven-foot privacy wall, and a series of internal walls as well. The compound's residents burned their trash, rather than allow it to be collected. By February, officials were convinced it housed bin Laden himself. After a series of National Security Council meetings, finally, last Friday, President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for the raid. Sources tell CNN bin Laden was shot in the head. Click to read about bin Laden's burial. (Read more Osama bin Laden dead stories.)