President Obama announced in a live address to the nation Sunday that U.S. forces operating in Pakistan had killed the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Osama Bin Laden, and taken custody of his body.
The Al Qaeda leader was killed in a firefight Sunday with U.S. forces at a compound in Abbottabad, a town of luxurious homes about an hour's drive north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
The President's announcement capped a whirlwind hour or so of media speculation following the rare late Sunday night notice from the White House that the President would be making a live address to the nation.
Hints leaked out from anonymous government sources in the minutes leading up to the address, and Obama made the news official with his announcement from the East Room of the White House that the Saudi-born militant had been slain.
The U.S. State Department has issued a worldwide travel notice warning Americans to be on a heightened state of alert in the anticipation of reprisals from Bin Laden supporters.
Crowds formed outside the White House, singing the National Anthem, chanting "USA! USA!" and creating an atmosphere more akin to Mardi Gras than to a Sunday night in the nation's capital.
Similar spontaneous celebrations were reported in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. When word of Bin Laden's death circulated around the stadium at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game, fans chanted "USA! USA!"
Reaction to the announcement was also carried live via Facebook and Twitter updates. A man in Abbottabad, reports the Wall Street Journal, live Tweeted the attack as it started. Using the handle “ReallyVirtual," the man—identified as Sohaib Athar—reported the arrival of helicoptors hovering above. Within minutes, ReallyVirtual noted sounds of explosions. For the next two hours, he and a few locals speculated about what had happened.