Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brockton's Palermo Died Doing What He Loved

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—U.S. Army Capt. Anthony Palermo Jr. from his childhood until his death on April 6, 2007 wanted to be a soldier and became a professional military man much like his beloved uncle and role model Sgt. First Class Angel Ortiz--a career U.S. Army soldier who was with Palermo when a makeshift bomb killed his nephew on a roadway in Iraq.
“I was there with him when he was killed. It was tough to bring him home,” Ortiz said as he unsuccessfully choked back tears and could barely talk about the day in Iraq when Palermo died at the age of 26.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” he said.
Ortiz said when Palermo was shipped out for his second tour of duty to Iraq, the pair were stationed together in Kuwait and both were deployed in the same unit to Baghdad where Ortiz witnessed the explosion that killed Palermo.
It was a devastating moment that Ortiz preferred not to talk about in detail.
He said Palermo’s loss is even more difficult because of the way Palermo always looked up to him as a second father and mentor, but Ortiz threw his shoulders back and stopped the flow of tears from his red eyes.
“He died serving his country. He died doing what he loved,” Ortiz said.
Palermo, a Brockton High graduate who died two weeks before the birth of his only son Marcus Anthony was honored for his service Monday, May 30 following the City of Brockton’s annual Memorial Day Parade.
A bronze and copper plaque with a picture of Palermo was unveiled during ceremonies at City Hall Plaza that included a three-gun salute, Brockton High Marching Band,
Brockton Police Honor Guard, Brockton Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums, and Brockton High’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC—one of the ways a teenaged Palermo prepared himself for a career in the U.S. Army.
Palermo’s father, John Palermo said his oldest son--originally born in Puerto Rico--had Army on his mind from a very young age.
“He was always serious about it. Since he was a little boy playing with toy soldiers—he wanted to be in the military,” John Palermo said.
John Palermo said Anthony isn’t the only family member who has heard the call to serve. His youngest son Johnny Jr. is in the Army and stationed in El Paso, Texas and middle daughter Lisanette Palermo is stationed at a U.S. Army base in Kansas City.
All three Palermo siblings were members of Brockton High’s JROTC, Palermo said.
John Palermo said “there are no words” to describe Tony’s loss, but despite his older brother’s death in Iraq, Palermo said he could not keep youngest son Johnny from following his brother into the Army—even when the boy was underage.
“He told me if I wouldn’t give him permission he would find a way anyway,” Palermo said. “I couldn’t stop him,” Palermo said.
After graduating from Brockton High, Anthony Palermo went on to further his military studies at Norwich University where he and fellow Brockton JROTC members Dennis Goulet and Matthew Weeks (Pictured, right) excelled as leaders and all-around students and friends.
The trio graduated from Norwich in 1998.
“He was a friend, a father, a brother—he was just a great guy,” Goulet said.
Weeks said while Palermo loved his wife Kristy and was thrilled at the arrival of his son Marcus Palermo was a serious and committed soldier who passed over a promotion to lead his men into dangerous territory in Iraq.
“He loved his men. He loved the military. He loved what he was doing,” Weeks said. “It’s hard, but at least he died doing what he loved,” he said.
Weeks said Palermo died two weeks before his son Marcus was born and was expected to take a leave and come back to the U.S. for the birth or—if the youngster came early—to meet his new son.
However, an improvised explosive device changed everything.
His aunt Vivian Irizarry clutched a bouquet of red and white flowers and in between crying, laughing and wiping away tears, said the tribute to her nephew is in one way sad and sorrowful, but in another fills the family with joy and proud.
“He died fighting for his country. He died for the country he loves,” Irizarry said.
The plaque in Palermo’s honor was paid for by a combination of money raised by the family through a website, www.captaintonypalermo.blogspot.com and city veterans agencies.
Mayor Linda Balzotti said her father was a "veteran to the end," who died on Memorial Day May 30, 1988 and asked the crowd to take a moment from their day to honor and remember the sacrifice of the nation's armed forces.
"Let's pray they all make it home safely," Balzotti said.
The family is in the process of establishing a non-profit organization to raise money for a scholarship for a high school student and other veteran services endeavors.
(Top photo of Palermo courtesy of Palermo family)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brockton Celebrates 130th Year

Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—City officials and dozens of residents celebrated the 130th anniversary of Brockton becoming a city during a brief ceremony in the rotunda of City Hall.
“We owe a great deal of gratitude to the founding fathers for incorporating this community as a city,” said state Senator Thomas Kennedy.
The celebration was held Monday, May 23, the day Brockton residents voted to make the leap from a town to a city about one month after an act of the State Legislature in April, 1881 gave the town the green light to change its status, said Brockton Historical Society President James Benson.
Originally Brockton was incorporated as the town of North Bridgewater in 1824 and eventually changed its name to Brockton at the suggestion of shoe manufacturing mogul Ira Copeland (Pictured, below) in honor of Sir Isaac Brock, a major-general in the British army.
Benson told the crowd that in Brockton’s shoe-making hey-day thousands of immigrants came to Brockton from Ireland, Italy, Germany, Lithuania and Sweden—a destination where they found a new and better life, similar to people who now flock to Brockton from Cape Verde, Haiti, Senegal and make up about 60 percent of the city.
“Some say Brockton’s best days are behind, in the past,” Benson said, “but with new businesses and new immigrant groups from places our ancestors never heard of…Brockton’s future is straight ahead.”
The event included a double-chocolate birthday cake celebrating the moment and a tour of historic Brockton City Hall by Bob Martin, one of Brockton’s historians, who pointed out that like the “Mona Lisa,” “The Charge of the 4th Mass. Cavalry” has a soldier whose eyes follow a viewer from one end of the massive mural to the other.
“Give it a try,” Martin said. (Pictured, top)
An exhibit of photographs from the historical society's collection will be on view until tomorrow in rotunda of City Hall.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brockton Baking Co., Whitman Pub Take MetroSouth Yearly Honors

BROCKTON--Brockton’s Elie Baking Corp. has been named Small Business of the Year and McGuiggan’s Pub in Whitman Entrepreneur of the Year by MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce during its 20th annual Small Business Expo and Luncheon.
The awards were announced Wednesday, May 18 at the Chamber’s annual expo and conference held at the Shaw’s Center.
Other nominees included Apothecare South Shore, Inc. of Brockton, Beaver Woodworking Supplies of Brockton, Belle Epoque of Brockton, Cake in a Box of Bridgewater, Hungry Coyote of Brockton, Mia Regazza of Abington and The Mockingbird Restaurant of East Bridgewater.
Nominees were evaluated on their ability to demonstrate creativity in the development of their business, growth and staying power, internal and external social responsibility, and the economic opportunities they have created in the Metro South region.
Elie’s Baking, which includes Near East Bakery in Boston, several years ago opened a manufacturing plant for bagels and pita bread at 204 N. Montello St. in Brockton that expands its already successful bagel, pita bread, gyro and tortilla business.
A minority-owned business operated by Lebanon natives Elie and Al Ata, (Pictured above, left to right, with Brockton 21st Century Corporation's Mary Waldron) the company has made a $1.7 million investment in the Brockton location and employs 40 to 45 people.
The company plans to expand it’s 48,000 square-foot building to add to its New England, Florida and Virginia client base.
The company has supported numerous food pantries and stop hunger causes.
McGuiggan’s Pub was opened in downtown Whitman in Dec. 2009 by well-known developer Richard Rosen. (Pictured at right with wife Kathy)
The pub, which features an upscale Irish sports pub atmosphere and elegant mahogany bar, has grown from 10 employees to 35 and has invested about $1 million for growth and expansion.
McGuiggan’s has sponsored road races for the Whitman Food Pantry, and Whitman Athletic Department. It has also hosted events to raise money for Brockton Family & Community Resources, ALS and MDA.
McGuiggan’s was named Best Bartenders on the South Shore and Best Hangout on the South Shore in 2010 by South Shore Living Magazine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MetroSouth Biz Expo Wednesday

BROCKTON--Brockton businesses will be highlighted for their perseverance, entrepreneurship and contributions to the city by the MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce, Brockton City Council and a coalition of business associations in honor of National Small Business Week.
Four businesses: Sunset Cafe, Executive Cuts, Waitt Funeral Home and Dwyer's Glass are the recipients of the first "Brockton--Let's Get Down To Business" recognition award initiated by Ward 2 City Councilor Thomas Monahan and modeled after a similar program in the City of Lawrence.
In a prepared statement, Monahan said afer seeing the recognition program in Lawrence and hearing from businesses how difficult it is to survive in a struggling city during the tax rate classification hearing in the winter, it would be a good idea to highlight more of Brockton's success stories.
"It hit home with me that many of these businesses are the employers of our residents and the contributors to various community groups and they don't even get a pat on the back," Monahan said. "The businesses being recognized through this program are examples of why one should bring their business to Brockton. They are the biggest cheerleaders of the city. The more businesses we bring in, the fewer burdens it has on our taxpayers," he said.
The four businesses received a certificate of accomplishment from the City Council and Mayor Linda Balzotti last Monday.
On Wednesday, May 18 MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Small Business Expo and Awards Luncheon from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
The free Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to Noon and is free to all.
The luncheon includes a presentation by Stephen Michon, vice-president of FutureWorks where he leads strategic planning for regional economic development. (Pictured at right)
Among the projects he has directed are the Fellowship for Regional Sustainable Development, the City of Portland economic development strategy, the Talent Dividend Network and an evaluation of small business lending strategies in Maine.
Michon is expected to tackle two major questions:
1) How does Brockton and the Metro South region compete on the global stage?
2) How do these trends impact your small business and what can your business do about it?
The luncheon will also feature the announcement of the Small Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Nominations for Small Business of the Year include:
Beaver Woodworking Supplies, Brockton;
Apothecare South Shore, Inc. Brockton;
Mia Regazza Restaurant, Abington;
Elie Baking Corp, Brockton;
The Mockingbird Restaurant, East Bridgewater;
Nominations for Entrepreneur of the Year include:
Cake in a Box, Bridgewater;
Hungry Coyote, Brockton;
Belle Epoque Café & Bakery, Brockton;
McGuiggan's Pub, Whitman.
For more information about the expo and luncheon visit the MetroSouth Chamber's website.

Monday, May 16, 2011

School Roof Repairs On City Council Fin. Comm. Tonight

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—The City Council Finance Committee will meet tonight to discuss and possibly approve borrowing $7.2 million, or a 20 percent share of a $36 million roof repair project for eight of the city’s schools—a move that could trigger a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion override in the future.
City Councilors will be presented with a plan from School Operations Director Michael Thomas for the school department to repair eight school building roofs under the Massachusetts School Building Assistance Bureau’s Green Repairs program.
Thomas said the state has approved Brockton to repair roofs at Raymond, Davis, Downey and Hancock elementary schools, North, East and West Middle schools and Brockton High School.
East and North Middle schools would also receive new boilers.
Thomas said the state will pay for 80 percent of the repairs and Brockton would be responsible for 20 percent, or about $7.2 million—a figure that would require officials to absorb the amount in the city’s annual budget, or seek a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion override to pay for the loan.
“I don’t know what is going to happen tonight,” Thomas said. “We’re in tough economic times, but it’s a good deal for the city and the work has to be done. If we wait 3 or 4 years the work will still have to be done and we pay 100 percent,” he said.
The money has become available as a part of the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
City officials must approve the spending by May 25 when the state building agency must approve the funding for its more than 130 school projects on the list.
If Brockton rejects the repair project another school system will be able to take the money for its own projects.
Thomas said initially state officials gave Brockton approval for four schools, but late last year added four more to the project.
John “Jay” Condon said he has sent a memo to the City Council outlining the city’s current and future budget and what kind of impact absorbing $7.2 million would have on services during the life of the loan.
“I can’t say it won’t have an effect,” Condon said.
Because officials are still putting together next year’s budget , Condon said it is unclear how much of an effect another $7.2 million roof project will have.
He said he believes it will “squeeze future budgets” and a debt exclusion might be necessary to pay the loan.
Historically, Brockton voters have rejected overrides, whether they are debt exclusions which increase taxes until a construction project is paid off or a so-called regular Proposition 2 ½ override for annual services and salaries that becomes a permanent tax.
Condon said while the green program is an excellent way for the city to repair severe problems at the schools—including North Middle School which has been unable to use its auditorium after it was condemned 2 years ago by the building department.
However, the city has absorbed numerous construction projects--about $25 million--over the past 10 years, including renovating the libraries and rebuilding and renovating five schools, including the Mary E. Baker School and the Angelo Elementary School.
Condon outlined payments for five school projects and library expansion and renovations already on the books and being absorbed within the limits of Proposition 2 ½:
*$17.5 million for school rebuilds—15 percent to be paid by the city or about $3.2 million;
*$10 million for school projects—15 percent to be paid by city, or about $1.5 million;
*$7.82 million for George School project—100 percent to be paid by the city;
*$485,525 for planning school projects—100 percent to be paid by the city;
*$1 million for school projects—100 percent to be paid by the city;
*$2.745 million for land acquisition for school rebuilds—100 percent to be paid by the city;
*$5.5 million for library projects—100 percent to be paid by the city;
*$3.025 million for library planning and land acquisition—100 percent to be paid by the city.
Condon said those figures make him hesitate that the $7.2 million can be absorbed for long within the confines of the budget.
The payments on the school building and library projects mature, or are fully paid as follows:
*$17.5 million, or $3.2 million 15 percent share in 2017;
*$10 million, or $1.5 million 15 percent share in 2020;
*$7.82 million in 2031;
*$1 million in 2021;
*$2.745 million in 2019;
*$485,525 in 2020;
*$5.5 million in 2021;
*$3 million in 2021.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Patrons Make Rowdy Exit From Joe Angelo's In Brockton

By Lisa E. Crowley
At 1:40 a.m. Saturday morning—five minutes before last call—a request went out to Brockton Police for a cruiser at Joe Angelo’s Café.
Brockton Police and State Police had spent several hours searching for a man who ran away from a fatal fire at 75 Melrose Avenue.
Nearly all Brockton Police were involved in the search as were many State Police units and a State Police helicopter that had arrived in Brockton around 12:30 a.m. to help with the search.
The initial response came over the scanner: “No one’s available.”
Moments later another response came across that police would be sending someone.
At 1:45 a.m. the parking lot near the back porch of Joe Angelo’s was saturated with people who were leaving the bar.
Some were hugging one another. Others were visibly wobbling as they tried to walk to their cars. Friends gave them a shoulder to lean on. Most others were milling around and watching as more and more police arrived on the scene.
As this reporter got out of her car I came across a woman screaming at a young man not to fight.
The young man had that look many of us partygoers have seen when someone has had too much to drink—his eyes were blank and he didn’t want to listen to the woman who was screaming and swearing at him not to fight in public.
The woman after seeing this reporter recording the incident decided to attack this reporter and tried to grab my video camera. I began running and she fell face and shoulder first into the pavement after tripping in her high-heel shoes.
A police officer asked me to stop recording because he believed my presence was adding “fuel to the fire.”
Once the young man was loaded into a car the potential fight fizzled and the area was cleared of patrons and most police by about 2:10 a.m.
At a Brockton License Commission hearing April 27, the board voted to roll-back Joe Angelo’s weekend closing time from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. after Brockton Police testified over the last two years the Main and Crescent Street bar has had problem after problem culminating in a brawl March 12 when a man was stabbed and a woman had a broken beer bottle gouge her face.
The hours roll-back has not taken effect yet.
Lt Paul Bonanca testified at the April 27 hearing that Joe Angelo’s is headed for a murder, noting the man who was stabbed March 12 had his spleen removed and only missed being killed by a matter of inches.
“Two inches higher and it would have been a homicide,” Bonanca told commissioners.
Police testified that on any given Thursday, Friday or Saturday night fights have broken out at the bar and it has become common practice for Brockton or State Police to send a car at 1:45 a.m. to prevent brawls like the March 12 fight.
We decided to see what we would find if we arrived at about 1:40 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night.
The above video is what we saw early Saturday morning May 7 as Friday night turned into early Saturday morning and revelers began to leave Joe Angelo’s.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fire Kills Melrose Ave. Woman

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—The Lithuanian Village was surrounded by Brockton and State Police as they searched for a man who may have been at the scene of a fire on Melrose Avenue that took the life of an as yet identified woman who was living in what may be an illegal basement apartment.
Fire Chief Richard Francis said firefighters were called to the two-story Melrose Avenue house at about 11 p.m. Saturday and found the woman in the basement.
He said she suffered from smoke inhalation and was raced to Brockton Hospital.
Francis said en-route emergency personnel resuscitated the woman, but she went into cardiac arrest and died at the hospital.
Officials have yet to release the woman’s name.
While firefighters extinguished the blaze at about Midnight, police fanned out and surrounded the Village, setting up a perimeter from Ames Street, to Mulberry, and all along E. Ashland as they searched for a man who is belived to have been with the woman before the fire broke out.
“He is a person of interest,” Francis said.
Francis said neighbors told officials the man was a recent boyfriend and took off running shortly after the blaze broke out.
The man was described as a skinny Hispanic and possibly wearing a black baseball hat and orange jacket.
State Police brought in canine units and a State Police Air-Wing helicopter flew from Plymouth to Brockton at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday to aid in the search.
The helicopter circled the Village for more than hour, but did not locate the wanted man.
A man was apprehended in a marsh behind National Grid on East Ashland Street, however it was determined he was not the right guy.
Francis said the fire is under investigation and could not say immediately what caused the blaze.
Officials believe the woman may have been living in an illegal basement apartment.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brockton Murder Suspect Indicted In Absentia

BROCKTON--A Plymouth County Grand Jury returned indictments charging an Ecuadoran national with two counts of first degree murder in the murder of a mother and son found in a Brockton dumpster in February.
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz today announced in a prepared statement that a grand jury has returned indictments charging Luis Guaman, 40, with two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Maria Avelina Palaguachi-Cela,25and her nearly 3-year-old son, Brian Cuanga Palaguachi.
Guaman fled to Ecuador hours before the bodies of Palaguachi-Cela and her son were found in a dumpster near their home on Warren Ave in Brockton, February 13.
The two were mercilessly beaten with a sledgehammer and prosecutors have said they have evidence, including blood, linking Guaman to the crimes.
Guaman is currently being held in Ecuador on charges of using a fake passport to reenter his native country.
Authorities have said because Ecuador's new Constitution does not allow extradition of
its citizens it is unclear if Guaman will face charges in the murders.
However, Cruz, in the statement said his office will make every effort to have Guaman brought to trial in the U.S.
“We are continuing to seek Guaman’s return to the United States where he can stand trial for these brutal murders,” Cruz said.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Killed in Pakistan

BROCKTON--Americans across the country are soaking in, and in some cases, celebrating the fact the nation's most hated enemy, al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was killed in a raid on a mansion in Islamabad, Pakistan Sunday, May 1, 2011.
State Gov. Deval Patrick issued a statement this morning:
"On behalf of the people of Massachusetts and all others who suffered the profound loss of the September 11, 2001 attacks, I congratulate and thank President Obama and the soldiers and intelligence personnel who carried out this mission," Patrick said.
Patrick added American military men and women have sacrificed their lives to fight the War on Terrorism and in the search for Bin Laden.
"We also remember our Massachusetts servicemen and women who continue their extraordinary efforts to rid the world of terrorism," Patrick said. "Let us heed the President's call to unite, as we did in the months of mourning following that terrible day, to make a better, safer and more just world," he said.
President Obama made a speech to the American public at about 11:35 p.m. last night. He said Osama Bin Laden--a terrorist who had murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children--was killed in a firefight in a villa in Islamabad, Pakistan.
"Justice has been done," Obama said.
Just after Obama's speech to the American people on television, administration officials briefed the media on steps that were taken to capture or kill Bin Laden in Pakistan.
The details of that briefing are below. We highlighted in yellow the specifics of yesterday's May 1 raid on the villa:
12:03 A.M. EDT
MR. VIETOR: Thank you, everyone, for joining us, especially so late. We wanted to get you on the line quickly with some senior administration officials to talk about the operation today regarding Osama bin Laden. And with that I’ll turn it over to our first senior administration official.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for joining us, everybody, at this late hour. It’s much appreciated. From the outset of the administration, the President has placed the highest priority in protecting the nation from the threat of terrorism. In line with this, we have pursued an intensified, targeted, and global effort to degrade and defeat al Qaeda. Included in this effort has been a relentless set of steps that we’ve taken to locate and bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Indeed, in the earliest days of the administration, the President formally instructed the intelligence community and his counterterrorism advisors to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, as the leader of al Qaeda, as a top priority.
In the beginning of September of last year, the CIA began to work with the President on a set of assessments that led it to believe that in fact it was possible that Osama bin Laden may be located at a compound in Pakistan. By mid-February, through a series of intensive meetings at the White House and with the President, we had determined there was a sound intelligence basis for pursuing this in an aggressive way and developing courses of action to pursue Osama bin Laden at this location.
In the middle of March, the President began a series of National Security Council meetings that he chaired to pursue again the intelligence basis and to develop courses of action to bring justice to Osama bin Laden. Indeed, by my count, the President chaired no fewer than five National Security Council meetings on the topic from the middle of March -- March 14th, March 29th, April 12th, April 19th, and April 28th. And the President gave the final order to pursue the operation that he announced to the nation tonight on the morning -- Friday morning of April 29th.
The President mentioned tonight that the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and the defeat of al Qaeda has been a bipartisan exercise in this nation since September 11, 2001, and indeed, this evening before he spoke to the nation, President Obama did speak to President Bush 43 and President Clinton this evening to review with them the events of today and to preview his statement to the nation tonight.
And with that, I’ll turn it over to my colleague to go through some of the details. Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As you heard, the President ordered a raid earlier today against an al Qaeda compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Based on intelligence collection analysis, a small U.S. team found Osama bin Laden living in a large home on a secured compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad. The raid occurred in the early morning hours in Pakistan and accomplished its objective. Osama bin Laden is now no longer a threat to America.
This remarkable achievement could not have happened without persistent effort and careful planning over many years. Our national security professionals did a superb job. They deserve tremendous credit for serving justice to Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden was a sworn enemy of the United States and a danger to all humanity; a man who called for the murder of any American anywhere on Earth. His death is central to the President’s goal of disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al Qaeda and its violent allies. He was responsible for killing thousands of innocent men and women not only on 9/11, but in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombing, the attack of the USS Cole, and many other acts of brutality.
He was the leader of a violent extremist movement with affiliates across the globe that had taken up arms against the United States and its allies. Bin Laden’s most influential role has been to designate the United States as al Qaeda’s primary target and to maintain organizational focus on that objective. This strategic objective, which was first made in a 1996 declaration of jihad against Americans, was the cornerstone of bin Laden’s message.
Since 9/11, multiple agencies within our intelligence community have worked tirelessly to track down bin Laden, knowing that his removal from al Qaeda would strike a crippling blow to the organization and its militant allies. And last September the President was made aware of a compound in Abbottabad, where a key al Qaeda facilitator appeared to be harboring a high-value target. He received regular intelligence updates, as was just mentioned, on the compound in September, and he directed that action be taken as soon as he concluded that the intelligence case was sufficiently strong. A range of options for achieving the mission were developed, and on Friday he authorized the operation.
Now I’ll turn it to my colleagues to go through the intelligence.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. First I want to point out that today’s success was a team effort. It was a model of really seamless collaboration across our government. Since 9/11, this is what the American people have expected of us, and today, in this critical operation, we were able to finally deliver.
The operation itself was the culmination of years of careful and highly advanced intelligence work. Officers from the CIA, the NGA, the NSA all worked very hard as a team to analyze and pinpoint this compound. Together they applied their very unique expertise and capabilities to America’s most vexing intelligence problem, where to find bin Laden.
When the case had been made that this was a critical target, we began to prepare this mission in conjunction with the U.S. military. In the end, it was the matchless skill and courage of these Americans that secured this triumph for our country and the world. I’m very proud of the entire team that worked on this operation, and am very thankful to the President for the courage that he displayed in making the decision to proceed with this operation.
With that, let me turn to my colleague to give you details on the intelligence background.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. The bottom line of our collection and our analysis was that we had high confidence that the compound harbored a high-value terrorist target. The experts who worked this issue for years assessed that there was a strong probability that the terrorist that was hiding there was Osama bin Laden.
What I’d like to do is walk you through the key points in that intelligence trail that led us to that conclusion. From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the CIA gathered leads on individuals in bin Laden’s inner circle, including his personal couriers. Detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to bin Laden and his deputy, Zawahiri, after their escape from Afghanistan.
One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.
Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.
Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. Still we were unable to pinpoint exactly where they lived, due to extensive operational security on their part. The fact that they were being so careful reinforced our belief that we were on the right track.
Then in August 2010, we found their residence, a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad. The area is relatively affluent, with lots of retired military. It’s also insolated from the natural disasters and terrorist attacks that have afflicted other parts of Pakistan. When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw -- an extraordinarily unique compound. The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. It is roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area.
When the compound was built in 2005, it was on the outskirts of the town center, at the end of a narrow dirt road. In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby. The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary. It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. Internal wall sections -- internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out for collection.
The main structure, a three-story building, has few windows facing the outside of the compound. A terrace on the third floor has a seven-foot wall privacy -- has a seven-foot privacy wall.
It’s also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it. The brothers had no explainable source of wealth.
Intelligence analysts concluded that this compound was custom built to hide someone of significance. We soon learned that more people were living at the compound than the two brothers and their families. A third family lived there -- one whose size and whose makeup matched the bin Laden family members that we believed most likely to be with Osama bin Laden. Our best assessment, based on a large body of reporting from multiple sources, was that bin Laden was living there with several family members, including his youngest wife.
Everything we saw -- the extremely elaborate operational security, the brothers’ background and their behavior, and the location and the design of the compound itself was perfectly consistent with what our experts expected bin Laden’s hideout to look like. Keep in mind that two of bin Laden’s gatekeepers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, were arrested in the settled areas of Pakistan.
Our analysts looked at this from every angle, considering carefully who other than bin Laden could be at the compound. We conducted red team exercises and other forms of alternative analysis to check our work. No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did.
So the final conclusion, from an intelligence standpoint, was twofold. We had high confidence that a high-value target was being harbored by the brothers on the compound, and we assessed that there was a strong probability that that person was Osama bin Laden.
Now let me turn it over to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. Earlier this afternoon, a small U.S. team conducted a helicopter raid on the compound. Considerable planning helped prepare our operators for this very complex mission. Senior officials have been involved in the decision-making and planning for this operation for months, and briefed the President regularly. My colleague has already mentioned the unusual characteristics of this compound. Each of these, including the high walls, security features, suburban location, and proximity to Islamabad made this an especially dangerous operation.
The men who executed this mission accepted this risk, practiced to minimize those risks, and understood the importance of the target to the national security of the United States.
I know you understand that I can’t and won’t get into many details of this mission, but I’ll share what I can. This operation was a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimize collateral damage and to pose as little risk as possible to non-combatants on the compound or to Pakistani civilians in the neighborhood.
Our team was on the compound for under 40 minutes and did not encounter any local authorities while performing the raid. In addition to Osama bin Laden, three adult males were killed in the raid. We believe two were the couriers and the third was bin Laden’s adult son.
There were several women and children at the compound. One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant. Two other women were injured.
During the raid, we lost one helicopter due to mechanical failure. The aircraft was destroyed by the crew and the assault force and crew members boarded the remaining aircraft to exit the compound. All non-combatants were moved safely away from the compound before the detonation.
That’s all I have at this time. I’ll turn it back to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We shared our intelligence on this bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan. That was for one reason and one reason alone: We believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance.
Shortly after the raid, U.S. officials contacted senior Pakistani leaders to brief them on the intent and the results of the raid. We have also contacted a number of our close allies and partners throughout the world.
Sine 9/11, the United States has made it clear to Pakistan that we would pursue bin Laden wherever he might be. Pakistan has long understood that we are at war with al Qaeda. The United States had a legal and moral obligation to act on the information it had.
And let me emphasize that great care was taken to ensure operational success, minimize the possibility of non-combatant casualties, and to adhere to American and international law in carrying out the mission.
I should note that in the wake of this operation, there may be a heightened threat to the homeland and to U.S. citizens and facilities abroad. Al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers may try to respond violently to avenge bin Laden’s death, and other terrorist leaders may try to accelerate their efforts to strike the United States. But the United States is taking every possible precaution to protect Americans here at home and overseas. The State Department has sent guidance to embassies worldwide and a travel advisory has been issued for Pakistan.
And without a doubt, the United States will continue to face terrorist threats. The United States will continue to fight those threats. We have always understood that this fight would be a marathon and not a sprint.
There’s also no doubt that the death of Osama bin Laden marks the single greatest victory in the U.S.-led campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. It is a major and essential step in bringing about al Qaeda’s eventual destruction.
Bin Laden was al Qaeda’s only (inaudible) commander in its 22-year history, and was largely responsible for the organization’s mystique, its attraction among violent jihadists, and its focus on America as a terrorist target. As the only al Qaeda leader whose authority was universally respected, he also maintained his cohesion, and his likely successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is far less charismatic and not as well respected within the organization, according to comments from several captured al Qaeda leaders. He probably will have difficulty maintaining the loyalty of bin Laden’s largely Gulf Arab followers.
Although al Qaeda may not fragment immediately, the loss of bin Laden puts the group on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.
And finally, it’s important to note that it is most fitting that bin Laden’s death comes at a time of great movement towards freedom and democracy that is sweeping the Arab world. He stood in direct opposition to what the greatest men and women throughout the Middle East and North Africa are risking their lives for: individual rights and human dignity.
MR. VIETOR: With that we’re ready to take a couple questions.
Q One question. You said “a small U.S. team.” Were these military personnel, can you say, or non-military?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can’t go into further details at this time; just a small U.S. team.
Q Good morning. Can you tell us specifically what contact there was with bin Laden at the compound? You referred to someone using a woman as a shield that was not bin Laden. But how was he killed? Where? What occurred at the compound?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As the President said this evening, bin Laden was killed in a firefight as our operators came onto the compound.
Q Thank you. Just to go back to what you were talking about with the attacks in response to this operation, are you hearing any specific threats against specific targets?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. But any type of event like this, it is very prudent for us to take measures so that we can ensure that the security measures that we need to institute here and throughout the world are in place. This is just something that we normally would do. We don’t have any specific threats at this time related to this. But we are ensuring that every possible precaution is taken in advance.
Q Yes, hey, how are you doing? My question would be, what was the type of the helicopter that failed? And what was the nature of that mechanical failure?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can’t go into details at this time.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We didn’t say it was mechanical.
Q Was bin Laden involved in firing himself or defending himself? And then any chronology of the raid itself?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight.
Q Thank you. Thank you for taking this call. Can you give me a comment on the very fact that Osama bin Laden was just in Islamabad -- and has long been (inaudible) Afghanistan (inaudible) also from India, that Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere near Islamabad? What does it signify, that? Does it signify any cooperation or any kind of link that he had with establishments in Pakistan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As the President said, Pakistani cooperation had assisted in this lead, as we pursued it. So we’re continuing to work this issue right now. We are very concerned about -- that he was inside of Pakistan, but this is something that we’re going to continue to work with the Pakistani government on.
Q But the very fact you didn’t inform the Pakistani authorities -- did you have any suspicion that if you informed them, the information might lead somewhere?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: An operation like this that is conducted has the utmost operational security attached to it. I said that we had shared this information with no other country, and that a very, very small group of individuals within the United States government was aware of this. That is for operational security purposes.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would also just add to that that President Obama, over a period of several years now, has repeatedly made it clear that if we had actionable intelligence about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, we would act. So President Obama has been very clear in delivering that message publicly over a period of years. And that’s what led President Obama to order this operation. When he determined that the intelligence was actionable and the intelligence case was sufficient, he gave us high confidence that bin Laden indeed was at the compound.
Q Thank you. What is going to happen next? And what is the U.S. going to do with bin Laden’s body?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore this is being handled in an appropriate manner.
MR. VIETOR: Great, thanks. Just to remind everyone, this call is on background, as senior administration officials. We have time for one more question, and we’re going to go to bed.
Q Do you have a sense of the vintage of the compound and how long bin Laden had been there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The compound has been in existence for roughly five years, but we don’t know how long bin Laden lived there. We assess that the compound was built for the purpose of harboring him. But again, don’t know how long he’s been there.
MR. VIETOR: Great, thank you all. We’ll talk more tomorrow. 12:24 A.M. EDT