Looking Back At A Decade Of Pursuing Bin Laden

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The hunt for Osama bin Laden started in the flames of Sept. 11, 2001. America is still at war with Afghanistan, where bin Laden began his campaign against the West. NPR Photographer David Gilkey, who is embedded with troops in Helmand Province, tells Renee Montagne the troops' reaction to bin Laden's death.


And the discovery of Osama bin Laden brings back vivid memories for millions of Americans. He was well-known to antiterrorism experts from the 1990s onward. After September 11, 2001, everyone knew his name. In the end, bin Laden failed in his goal to reshape the world. Americans eventually found him after close to a decade of relentless pursuit.

In the next few moments, we will listen to the hunt for bin Laden, starting in the flames of 9/11.

(Soundbite of archived news broadcasts)

BOB EDWARDS, host: Good morning. You're listening to special coverage of tragic events that have occurred today in New York City and in Washington, D.C. Plane crashes into tower of World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan shortly before 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Then shortly after 9 a.m. Eastern Time, a second plane crashed into the second tower of the World Trade Center.

President Bush, in Sarasota, Florida, earlier this morning called the crashes an apparent terrorist attack and a national tragedy.

Unidentified Man: American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston for Los Angeles, hijacked by suspects armed with knives. This plane crashed into the World Trade Center. American Airlines Flight 77 departed Washington Dulles for Los Angeles, was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I can hear you.

(Soundbite of cheering and applause)

President BUSH: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people...

(Soundbite of cheering)

President BUSH: And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

(Soundbite of cheering)

ROBERT SMITH: The conventional wisdom is that finding Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But military planners say that's not quite true. It's more like looking for a needle in a football stadium.

MONTAGNE: That was nearly 10 years ago. And America is still at war in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden began his campaign against the West.

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