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By Tim Darnell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren #local-all

Ten years ago, the most wanted man in the world was killed by U.S. troops, bringing a measure of closure to a terrorist attack that changed America forever.

On May 2, 2011, after a decadelong manhunt, members of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group — Seal Team Six — shot and killed Osama bin Laden inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Special operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency also assisted in the operation to kill the man who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans.

After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. initiated its war on terror, and bin Laden subsequently became the subject of the international manhunt, with the FBI offering a $25 million bounty in its search for him.

Then-President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death on national television.

“His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” Obama said from the White House. “Justice has been done.”

No Americans were injured in the attack.

Earlier this month, the man who served as Obama’s No. 2, current President Joe Biden, said his administration will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country.

The decision defies a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year but leaves no room for additional extensions. A senior administration official called the September date an absolute deadline that won’t be affected by security conditions in the country.

While Biden’s decision keeps U.S. troops in Afghanistan four months longer than initially planned, it sets a firm end to two decades of war that has killed more than 2,200 U.S. troops, wounded 20,000 and has cost as much as $1 trillion. The conflict largely crippled al-Qaida and led to bin Laden’s death.

Biden’s choice of the 9/11 date underscores the reason that American troops were in Afghanistan to begin with — to prevent extremist groups such as al-Qaida from establishing a foothold again that could be used to launch attacks against the U.S.

The administration official said Biden decided that the withdrawal deadline had to be absolute, rather than based on conditions on the ground. “We’re committing today to going to zero” U.S. forces by Sept. 11 and possibly well before, the official said, adding that Biden concluded that a conditioned withdrawal would be “a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

Defense officials and commanders had argued against the May 1 deadline, saying the U.S. troop withdrawal should be based on security conditions in Afghanistan, including Taliban attacks and violence.

Biden’s new, extended timeline will allow a safe and orderly withdrawal of American troops in coordination with NATO allies, the administration official added.

The president’s decision, however, risks retaliation by the Taliban on U.S. and Afghan forces, possibly escalating the 20-year war. And it will reignite political division over America’s involvement in what many have called the endless war.

An intelligence community report issued Tuesday about global challenges for the next year said prospects for a peace deal in Afghanistan are “low” and warned that “the Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield.” If the coalition withdraws support, the report says, the Afghan government will struggle to control the Taliban.

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