August 7, 1998: Simultaneous bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 12 Americans, lead FBI to put Osama bin Laden on the bureau’s 10 Most Wanted List.
August 20, 1998: President Clinton launches cruise missile strike, “Operation Infinite Reach,” at al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Bin Laden had left one of the camps hours before the attack.
October 12, 2000: Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S.S. Cole kills 17 Navy sailors.
September 11, 2001: World Trade Center, Pentagon attacks kill leave nearly 3,000 Americans dead.
September 20, 2001: George W. Bush launches war on terror: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
October 7, 2001: U.S. goes to war in Afghanistan.
December 2001: Bin Laden slips away at Tora Bora.
March 2002: Bush on bin Laden: “I truly am not that concerned about him.”
March 20, 2003: U.S. detours to war in Iraq.
October 2004: Bin Laden releases pre-election video intended to tilt election to Bush, according to CIA.
2005: $1 million compound built for bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
September 2006: Bush changes tune: “No matter how long it takes, America will find you.”
August 2007: Candidate Obama vows he would unilaterally take out high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan.
September 2008: Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden: “President Barack Obama will follow [bin Laden] to where he lives and then send him to hell.“
2009: Obama inaugurated, tasks CIA director Leon Panetta “make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda.”
August 2010: U.S. intelligence discovers compound. Hideout has elaborate security yet is suspiciously disconnected from outside world: No phone; no Internet; burns its garbage.
March 14th – April 28th 2011: Obama chairs five national security council meetings to review actionability of intelligence, plot strike.
2011: “Seals built a full-scale mockup of bin Ladin’s compound and spent weeks practicing the raid and learning layout,” according to Yoshi Dreazan, the national security correspondent for National Journal.
April 29 2011, 8:20 a.m.: Obama authorizes strike on compound.
May 1, near midnight Pakistan time. Helicopters heard over Abbottabad. Navy SEALs storm compound. 40 minute firefight ensues. Bin Laden shot.
May 1, 8:30 p.m. Washington: Obama briefed, calls presidents Clinton, Bush.
May 1, 11:35 p.m.: Obama addresses nation, revealing that bin Laden has been killed: “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date,” he says, “in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”
May 2: Bin Laden buried at sea. FBI 10 Most Wanted list updated.