Key dates in the hunt for Osama bin Laden

A tape showing Osama bin Laden, taken before September 11, 2001, surfaced on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. CBS

The hunt for Osama bin Laden has spanned more than a dozen years, following the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. While evading capture, the al Qaeda leader has released video and audio recordings announcing his continued presence, and many rumors have circulated of his location, capture or death. The following are key dates in the quest for bin Laden:


Aug. 1998

President Bill Clinton orders Tomahawk missile strikes against two al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, in retaliation for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which 224 people (including 12 Americans) were killed. Bin Laden survived; the al Qaeda leader had apparently just left one of the camps.

June 2001

An al Qaeda recruitment video obtained by CBS News boasts that its followers bombed the USS Cole in Yemen's Aden harbor. The Oct. 12, 2000 attack killed 17 Americans sailors and wounded 39. Bin Laden did not specifically make that claim on the tape himself, but the U.S. government considered him a prime suspect.

September 13, 2001

Secretary of State Colin Powell identifies Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the 9/11 attacks.

Oct. 10, 2001

The White House releases a list of 22 "Most Wanted Terrorists," including bin Laden and others indicted in connection with five major terror incidents in the 1980s and '90s.

Oct. 2001

First air strikes are launched in Afghanistan. Bin Laden, in a videotaped message, praises God for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Nov.-Dec. 2001

A video of bin Laden makes it clear the al Qaeda leader was behind the attacks. On the tape, bin Laden says he was pleasantly surprised by the extent of damage from the Sept. 11 strikes. The tape also suggests some hijackers did not know they were going to die. U.S. and Afghan forces pummel bin Laden's mountain hideout at Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Reports of his death prove false and he escapes into Pakistan.

Nov. 2002

Widespread reports that bin Laden is suffering from kidney disease are discounted by his doctor, who tells The Associated Press he saw bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and that he was in good health.

March 2003

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan and placed in U.S. custody. Pakistani military sources also say bin Laden is boxed into a remote 350-mile corridor stretching from the southwestern Pakistani town of Chaman to the Afghan-Iranian border.

Late 2003

Pakistani forces raid the village of Lattaka in tribal North Waziristan on a tip bin Laden was hiding there.

Jan. 2004

A top American military commander says he is confident bin Laden will be brought to justice by year's end.

Feb. 2004

An Iranian state-run radio station reports bin Laden is in the hands of Pakistan's intelligence agency. The source, a Pakistani journalist, says he was misquoted.

Sept. 2006

A leaked French intelligence report cites a usually reliable source claiming bin Laden died of typhoid in Pakistan the month before.

March 2008

Bin Laden, in an audio message posted online, condemned the publication of drawings in Danish newspapers that he said insulted the Prophet Muhammad and warned Europeans of a "severe" reaction to come. Three months later the Danish embassy in Islamabad was attacked by a suicide bomber; five people were killed. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jan. 2010

A brief tape surfaced in which bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day terror attack on an airliner in Detroit. The voice on the tape addressed President Obama and endorsed Christmas plane bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a "hero."

May 1, 2011

President Barack Obama announces that a military operation today in Pakistan had located Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a firefight. His body is in the custory of the United States.

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

Comments