Image: Osama bin Laden speaks to the journalists in Khost, Afghanistan, in 1998
Mazhar Ali Khan / AP file

TODAY   |  May 03, 2011

New details on mission to kill bin Laden

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports on the last-minute planning and decision-making behind the U.S. mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: getting incredible insight into the last-minute planning and presidential decision-making behind the attack. and president obama 's top priorities -- protect u.s. forces but take out osama bin laden . the white house released photos of the nail-biting tension as the president and his national security team watch live video of the u.s. military attack on bin laden 's compound.

>> the minutes passed like days. the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel.

>> reporter: 40 minutes into the operation, it was over and osama bin laden was dead. for a successful killer captured, the code word was " geronimo " but on the ground they transmitted, for god and country , geronimo , geronimo . bin laden 's code name was jackpot.

>> osama bin laden would not surrender and his security agents had been told to kill him if it looked like they were about to lose him to a u.s. snatch operation.

>> reporter: the white house ruled out one option to drop 2,000-pound bombs on the compound because it would obliterate dna that could prove bin laden was killed. the president settled on two special ops teams of navy s.e.a.l.s and a back-up if something went wrong. if a chopper went down, another would take its place. they cornered bin laden on the third floor of the residence. one commando recognized bin laden and put two bullets into his head.

>> this is what we call a clean hit and a solid piece of work, both from an intelligence and speciale operations standpoint.

>> reporter: bin laden 's body was taken to given a proper burial at sea. there are details about how the u.s. tracked him to abbottabad in a compound eight times the size of anything nearby but the pakistani forces missed it. it is said khalidshake mohamed had interrogation techniques like water boarding. it took seven years but the cia identified a courier and tracked him to the compound where bin laden was killed. the navy s.e.a.l.s gathered up thousands of secret documents on computers and hard drives. a task force was formed. hundreds of analysts will wade through the material, trying to unlock the deep secrets of