Bin Laden is deadCelebrations across America as U.S. special forces shoot dead terror chief in mansion hideaway in Pakistan
* U.S. embassies on alert over Al Qaeda reprisal attacks for bin Laden killing
* President announces that mission planning began in August
* Mr Obama declares 'Justice has been done'
* David Cameron says death is 'massive step forward'
* Terror chief blasted in head after refusing offer to surrender
* Three adults including bin Laden's son killed after forming human shield
* Body reportedly buried at sea to prevent extremist shrine
Osama Bin Laden has been killed by the U.S. military after a decade-long hunt to avenge the 9/11 attacks, President Barack Obama revealed today.
The 54-year-old leader of Al Qaeda was dramatically killed yesterday in a firefight with American special forces in a $1million mansion hideout around 60 miles north of Islamabad in Pakistan.
Experts used facial recognition techniques to identify the slain terrorist and performed DNA tests, the results of which will be available in the coming days.
U.S. officials have reportedly told broadcaster CNN that bin Laden's body has already been buried at sea in order to prevent the grave from becoming a shrine for extremists.
‘Tonight I can report to the American people and the world that United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children,’ he said.
‘Justice has been done’.
Within minutes of the news breaking Americans began gathering outside the White House to sing the national anthem and chant: ‘USA! USA!'
In a spontaneous outpouring of emotion, thousands started cheering and clapping and waving American flags to show their support.
Large groups of Americans gathered outside the White House in Washington and at 'ground zero' in New York to celebrate the news.
Scroll down to view footage of President Obama's announcement
He told MailOnline: 'I'm saddened for the people who were affected by the tragedy and have to go through all this again.'
When asked what he thought about why it took so long to track down the terrorist, he said, 'I just knew we were working at it and we kept working at it. They stayed the course and accomplished the mission.'
But the terror chief's death will undoubtedly put the Middle East on high alert for reprisal attacks. It will also lead to urgent demands from Washington as to how the most wanted man was allowed to seek refuge in a supposedly allied country as Pakistan.
During an operation in which troops were on the ground for just 40 minutes, they stormed the terror chief's hideaway.
Four helicopters took part in the attack on bin Laden's two-storey house, which is understood to be within 100 yards of a military building in Abbottabad, a garrison town which is home to thousands of Pakistani troops.
According to Pakistani officials in the town, fighters on the roof opened fire with rocket propelled grenades as the aircraft came close to the building. Pakistani officials and local people said one of the helicopters crashed.
In a dramatic finale, it is said that bin Laden was offered the chance to surrender. But the leader, who had always said he would not be captured alive, refused and was blasted in the head by troops.
Three of the terror leader's men, including his own son, were also killed in the raid alongside a woman. They reportedly tried to act as a human shield in a furious firefight.
Pictures showing bin Laden's bloodied face were played on Pakistani TV. His beard and hair are both noticeably darker than they have appeared to be in previous videos.
In his televised statement Mr Obama said that bin Laden was killed in a helicopter raid by a small group of U.S. Navy Seals who stormed his mansion in an affluent area 80 miles from Islamabad.
They were working on a tip which first surfaced last August after ‘years of painstaking work’ from the CIA and had taken months to run it into the ground.
‘Last week I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorised an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice,’ Mr Obama said.
'Today at my direction the U.S. launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. After a firefight they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.’
U.S. military posts around the world had been put on alert in case of retaliation attacks by Islamic radicals.
The State Department warned of the heightened possibility for anti-American violence after the news of bin Laden's death.
The department issued a worldwide travel alert shortly after Mr Obama's announcement.
The department warned of an 'enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan'.
It continued: 'Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.'
The alert said U.S. embassy operations would continue 'to the extent possible under the constraints of any evolving security situation'.
It noted that embassies and consulates may temporarily close or suspend public services, depending on conditions.
Mr Obama said that for more two decades bin Laden has been Al Qaeda’s ‘leader and symbol’ who has continued to plot attacks against America the West.
‘His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,’ he said.
‘On nights like this one we can say to those family’s who have lost loved ones to Al Qaeda: Justice has been done’.
News of bin Laden's death was welcomed today by political leaders around the world. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the move was ' a massive step forward' while Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a 'triumph for justice'.
In a televised statement later at Chequers, Mr Cameron said: 'This news will be welcomed right across our country.
'Of course, it does not mark the end of the threat we face from extremist terrorism. Indeed, we will have to be particularly vigilant in the weeks ahead. But it is, I believe, a massive step forward.
'Osama bin Laden was responsible for the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children right across the world - people of every race and religion.
'He was also responsible for ordering the death of many, many British citizens, both here and in other parts of the world.
'And I think it is a moment when too we should thank all of those who work day and night, often with no recognition, to keep us safe from the threat of terror.
'But above all today, we should think of the victims of the poisonous extremism that this man has been responsible for.
'Of course, nothing will bring back those loved ones that families have lost to terror. But at least they know the man who was responsible for these appalling acts is no more.'
Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC: 'I believe it was the right thing for the US to do and I think we should be relieved that Osama bin Laden's terror - his own personal role in that terror - is now at an end.'
Welcoming bin Laden's death, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: 'This is a resounding triumph for justice, freedom and the values shared by all democratic nations fighting shoulder to shoulder in determination against terrorism.'
Intelligence sources said that bin Laden had been hiding out in the $1million mansion which had ‘extraordinary’ security measures including 12ft-18ft walls surrounding it.
It was eight times larger than the surrounding homes, it was regularly serviced by couriers and residents living there routinely burned their rubbish rather than put it out on the street.
It was built in 2005 but despite the show of wealth there was no Internet of phone service linked up to the house.
The raid lasted just 40 minutes and was the result of a series of practice runs to ensure it went off flawlessly.
In addition to bin Laden one of his sons, two couriers and a woman died as she was used as a human shield when the soldiers stormed the house.
The dramatic development ends the manhunt for the man who was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, which left 2,700 dead, and a string of other atrocities.
The outrage had a major impact on America foreign policy and led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
But despite repeated attempts bin Laden proved elusive and managed to escape capture.
As the years rolled on he became the nemesis of former President George W Bush, who pledged to take him ‘dead or alive’ and whose two terms were dominated by a ‘war on terror’ against his al Qaeda network.
In a statement last night Mr Bush said that Mr Obama had phoned him with the news and he had offered his congratulations and his ‘everlasting gratitude’ to the U.S. military.
‘This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11 2001,’ Mr Bush said.
‘The fight against terror go on but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message that no matter how long it takes, justice will be done’
Relatives of those who died on 9/11 immediately welcomed the killing.
Carie Lamack, who lost her mom Judy on American Airlines flights 11 on 9/11, said: ‘I cannot express how this feels to my family. Relief is one word.’
Kenny Specht, a New York firefighter who survived 9/11, told CNN: ‘I’m proud to be an American tonight. I speak for all New York firefighters when I say that I hope to God he rots in hell.
‘We never gave up hope he’d be killed. That’s all we had.’
U.S. military posts around the world had been put on alert in case of retaliation attacks but as yet none have taken place.
The killing of bin Laden comes just months before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Americans had kept their promise after September 11 to capture or kill bin Laden.
Mr Bloomberg said: 'The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation - and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation.'
He said it's a tribute to the men and women in the armed forces who've fought so hard
Security experts fear that Osama bin Laden's death will only strengthen the resolve of Islamic extremists to bring terror to the Western world.
Al Qaeda will immediately assert that it is still relevant, but ultimately the death of its leader and the U.S. taking custody of his body is a significant moral blow.
The terrorist organisation's No. 2, Egyptian-born doctor Ayman al-Zawahri, is widely tipped to take command.
While bin Laden remained the public face of terror, in recent years his operational role wound down as Zawahri took over as the brains behind the network.
In his most recent video message last month, he urged Muslims to fight NATO and American forces in Libya.
Like bin Laden, Zawahri was born into wealth. He is second after bin Laden on the FBI 'most wanted terrorists' list, having eluded capture when the Taliban was toppled in Afghanistan in late 2001.
He gained prominence in November 2008 when he called President Obama a 'house negro', a derogatory term used to describe black slaves loyal to white masters.
Zawahri, 60, has long been thought to be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border.
Montasser al-Zayat, a lawyer in Cairo who once represented Zawahri, said: 'Ayman is for bin Laden like the brain to the body.'