A photograph the White House released after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces is certain to go down in history for capturing the moment the US government learned that the al-Qaeda leader was dead.

The photo shows US President Barack Obama sitting to the left of the situation room conference table staring at a monitor providing a live feed of the raid. Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, holds her hand over her mouth with an expression of shock on her face.

A uniformed member of the US military, his eyes fixed on the scene, has a look of resolute satisfaction.

The photograph freezes the scene in the White House the night when Navy Seals killed bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan with a shot to the head.

It was May 1, 2011, in the US and May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the 53-year-old bin Laden was hiding. The elimination of the most wanted terrorist ever gave Obama an opportunity to draw a line under the so-called war on terror proclaimed by his predecessor, George W Bush.

It also marked a new beginning for the anti-terror fight that involved more cyber ​​warfare and less Guantanamo, or as Obama called it, "a just war." The killing of bin Laden, who had had a 25-million-dollar bounty on his head, was one of the biggest successes of his two terms.

The war on terror had begun 10 years earlier immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks, which had been orchestrated by bin Laden. His death weakened al-Qaeda structurally and motivationally. It also quenched US thirst for revenge after the terrorist leader spent so many years on the lam.

The order to shoot, believed to have come from Navy Seal Robert O'Neill, remains controversial even today. US forces went into a foreign country and killed a man without a legal basis. Many politicians welcomed the move, but human rights activists were less positive

The US attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, said the operation to kill bin Laden was justified as an act of national defence. The US military quickly disposed of the body at sea in order to deprive bin Laden's followers a place to idolize him.

It's not surprising that conspiracy theories soon developed. The most prominent of them was offered by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

Hersh's thesis is that bin Laden lived his early years as a mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union and was familiar to the Pakistani intelligence. He lived at the hideout in Abbottabad - a stronghold of the Pakistani military - for about five years with the knowledge of Pakistani agents and the United States, according to Hersh.

The White House released information that the Seals had to shoot their way to bin Laden, who used one of his wives as a shield. Couriers had led the US forces to the hiding place. But according to Hersh, who quotes retired US military intelligence officials, this story was made up.

There also is no clarity in Pakistan over what happened in what were the early morning hours of May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad. Hersh's theory of the involvement of the Pakistani government does not sound implausible to many Pakistanis. A typical question is: How could the Americans enter the heart of the army apparatus without the army or military intelligence knowing?

The anger of an entire country over the "arrogant invasion of a sovereign country," as it was then called, has mostly dissipated. The notoriously poor relationship between the two countries has actually improved, which five years ago seemed unlikely.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.