Sept. 11, 2001
In a plot backed by Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden, terrorists hijack four airplanes. Two are flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Another strikes the Pentagon. Passengers on the fourth aircraft fight back and the plane, believed bound for Washington D.C., crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pa. In all, nearly 3,000 Americans are killed in the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.
Sept. 17, 2001
President Bush declares he wants Bin Laden "dead or alive." "I want justice," Bush tells reporters during a visit to the site a week after the attacks. "There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" At right, he surveys recovery efforts the day after the attack.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
Jan. 1, 2004
Hassan Ghul is caught by Kurdish forces in Iraq, carrying a message to Osama bin Laden from Iraqi terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, pictured right in an undated file photo.
Feb. 1, 2004
Ghul is taken to a secret CIA prison in Poland, where he is subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. He begins cooperating almost immediately. He and other CIA detainees provide information about a courier who was trusted by Bin Laden, including a nickname, Abu Ahmed Kuwaiti. Ghul and other detainees identify Kuwaiti both as a protege of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, pictured right after his arrest in 2003, and a trusted assistant to Al Qaeda leader Abu Faraj Libbi, pictured far right after he was detained by the U.S.
(Associated Press and EPA)
Jan. 1, 2007
The CIA learns the real name of Kuwaiti, which officials have not disclosed.
Feb. 1, 2009
Shortly after taking office, President Obama instructs CIA Director Leon Panetta "to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority of our war against Al Qaeda."
(Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)
June 1, 2009
The CIA learns that Kuwaiti and his brother are operating in a region of Pakistan.
Aug. 1, 2010
The CIA tracks Kuwaiti to the compound in Abbottabad. Some reports say that happened after he spoke by phone with someone being monitored by U.S. intelligence.
May 1, 2011
A CIA-led team of Navy SEALs raids the compound, killing Kuwaiti, his brother, a woman and Bin Laden.