Reuters May 1, 2011
Police stand near a wanted poster of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, printed by a New York newspaper, in New York. Photo by Reuters
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Pakistan army soldiers seen near the house where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 2, 2011. Photo by AP

The U.S. special forces team that hunted down Osama bin Laden was under orders to kill the al-Qaida mastermind, not capture him, a U.S. national security official said Monday

Click here for full Haaretz coverage on the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"This was a kill operation," the official said, making clear there was no desire to try to capture bin Laden alive at his Pakista hideout.

U.S. President Barack Obama officially anounced the death of the al-Qaida leader in a televised speech from the White House late Sunday. "Justice has been made," Obama said in a heartfelt address, as he paid tribute to the close to 3,000 people victims of the 2001 attacks.

The United States first discovered a lead on bin Laden's whereabouts in August 2010, and Obama recounted his meeting with CIA head Leon Panetta, in which he said the capture of the al-Qaida leader was to be a top priority.

The president said that he and his national security team had met tirelessly for months, until last week when there was enough intelligence to take action. No civilians or Americans were harmed in the strike, Obama said.