04 May

Events of Interest and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective




Japan nuclear crisis was ‘avoidable’

Ex-Fukushima governor says crisis could have been averted had power company taken steps.

Al-Qaeda computers seized in Bin Laden raid

“Treasure trove of information” seized from Bin Laden’s hideout could offer clues about group’s operations.

Last Modified: 03 May 2011 18:30 GMT


‘Hundreds jailed for degrading Syria’

Rights group says many given three-year prison sentences as authorities seek to quell uprising.
Last Modified: 04 May 2011 11:22 GMT



In Depth

Fomenting nationalism with murder

Dahr Jamail 03 May 2011 20:20 GMT
While nationalism sweeps the US with the death of Bin Laden, Muslim Americans worry bigotry against them will persist.
In Depth

Palestinian youth: New movement, new tactics

Noura Erekat 04 May 2011 08:47 GMT
The global Palestinian youth movement has a new vision and energy in light of the Hamas-Fatah truce and the Arab Spring.

Bin Laden’s last hours – the truth

Boys in Abbottabad with Osama bin Laden's compound in the background

Declan Walsh: While US amends narrative of raid, Abbottabad residents describe the ‘mansion’ and the brothers who built it


US was yards from house in 2008

WikiLeaks cables show troops were due to perform routine posting with Pakistan’s federal military

Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in pictures




Seal Team 6: inside the Osama bin Laden assassination squad

Elite navy unit had spectacular success with killing of al-Qaida leader but its history has included deadly blunders

US navy Seals on a night mission in the Middle East


US navy Seals on a night mission in the Middle East. Seal Team 6, which killed Osama bin Laden, is a secret elite unit that works closely with the CIA. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

The US navy’s elite Seal Team 6, which stormed Osama bin Laden‘s Abbottabad compound and killed the al-Qaida leader, prides itself on two things: efficiency and secrecy.

However, the unit has enjoyed a somewhat mixed reputation since a bloody raid in Pakistan three years ago and the botched rescue attempt that led to the death of the British aid worker Linda Norgrove in 2010.

A measure of its commitment to secrecy came when the head of the navy Seals sent the Bin Laden team a congratulatory email reminding them to keep their mouths shut afterwards. “Be extremely careful about operational security,” added Rear Admiral Edward Winters. “The fight is not over.”

The unit is made up of only a few hundred personnel based in Dam Neck, Virginia. It is known officially as Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or Devgru, and is part of a special operations brotherhood, members of which call themselves “the quiet professionals”.

The unit works so often with the CIA that it is sometimes called the agency’s Praetorian Guard. The partnership started in Iraq as an outgrowth of the fusion of special operations forces and intelligence in the hunt for militants there.

Although the bulk of Seal Team 6 missions are now in Afghanistan, it has raided targets in countries including Yemen and Somalia in the last three years.

Until Sunday its most recent high-profile deployment stood in stark contrast to the Bin Laden success. In October last year sailors from the unit were dispatched to rescue the British aid worker Linda Norgrove, who had been kidnapped by militants in Afghanistan.

Norgrove died during the raid after one of the Seals threw a fragmentation grenade close to where she was sheltering.

Initial reports suggested she had been killed by an insurgent’s suicide bomb vest. But when the Seal commanding officer reviewed surveillance video recordings he saw an explosion after one of the Seals threw something in Norgrove’s direction. A number of the Seals were disciplined as a result.

The last time the public was made aware of a Seal raid on Pakistani soil was three years ago, when the raiders flew a mile over the border to the town of Angurada. Their high-value targets had fled and those left behind in the compound fought back, resulting in a number of civilian casualties, according to US and Pakistani officials.

The US usually does not comment on covert actions – especially those that go wrong. But the 2008 incident was caught on mobile phone video, so the Americans confirmed it and apologised publicly.

In the wake of the killing of Bin Laden a US publisher is racing out a behind-the-scenes account of Seal Team 6.

The publication of Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper, by navy Seal Howard E Wasdin and co-author Stephen Templin, had been originally planned for 24 May after St Martin’s Press bought the rights almost a year ago.

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