Meanwhile, at the State Department on Monday morning, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton said bin Laden’s killing should be a warning to the Taliban forces in Afghanistan that they “cannot wait us out.”
Late Sunday night, Mr. Obama was able to announce to a waiting country that the decade-long manhunt was over.
“Justice has been done,” Mr. Obama said in a somber speech from the White House’s East Room.
“His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” the president said.
He said bin Laden was killed in a compound in Abbottobad, about 60 miles from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where he apparently had been for months. Mr. Obama said he first was briefed last August on intelligence suggesting bin Laden’s location.
“A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability,” Mr. Obama said. “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Bin Laden’s death is the biggest victory the U.S. has scored in the decade-old war on terrorism and comes at a time when Mr. Obama is trying to chart a way forward on the war in Afghanistan.
The 2001 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. Ten years later, the effects of the attacks are visible everywhere in American life — from the security measures on the streets of the nation’s capital to the intensive screening at airports and the terrorist detention center at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Bin Laden’s death is the greatest victory for the U.S. in the war on terror since the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq. There is no better symbolic victory in this war than the defeat of the terrorist network´s leader,” said Charlie Szrom, an international-affairs analyst with D.C. International Advisory.
Outside the White House, a celebratory crowd had gathered spontaneously even before the president spoke and could be heard from inside the White House, chanting, “U.S.A., U.S.A.”
By the time the president had finished, there were several thousand people outside the White House gates — chanting, firing off hockey-goal horns, and flying or wearing American flags. In the crowd there could be seen at least one Iraqi flag being waved in the crowd and a Bush-Cheney sign.
“I’ve never been so proud of us,” one woman said as she waded into the rally.
A spontaneous rally also erupted in New York’s Times Square.
The congratulations quickly began pouring in from across the political spectrum — former President George W. Bush; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican; and Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican — had issued statements within minutes of the end of the Obama speech.
“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden. … I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. … They have our everlasting gratitude,” said Mr. Bush, who held office on the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and launched the war on terror.