On May 1, 2011, CIA Director Leon Panetta was in command of the single most important U.S. military operation since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: the Navy SEAL Team 6 assault on a mysterious compound, where Osama bin Laden was suspected to be hiding.
Even after more than 10 years of reading about Islamic terrorism, most people know the name of just one al-Qaeda terrorist – Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden did not plan or execute the 9/11 attacks, and he had nothing to do with the 7/7 bombings.
In 2005, a CIA analyst named Rebecca (a pseudonym) wrote a memo laying out a new strategy for the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Given the absence of any real leads, she asked, how could you plausibly find him?
One of the strong points of this excellent account of how Bin Laden was found and killed is much new detail. Bergen managed to get himself into the house in the northern Pakistani city of Abbottabad and can thus tell us how the militant leader spent his time in hiding.