05/01/2011 AT 11:10 PM EDT
Osama bin Laden has been killed, President Obama said Sunday night in an historic 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday live statement from the White House.
"We give thanks to the men who carried out this operation," he said, citing those who pulled off the mission in Pakistan as exemplifying patriotism at its finest. America can accomplish "anything we set our mind to," Obama added, calling the completed mission the "most significant achievement to date in the fight against Al Qaeda."
Ending a nearly 10-year manhunt, "actionable U.S. intelligence" led to the strike that killed bin Laden, the criminal mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that left 3,000 people dead on U.S. soil. The tip about the Al Qaeda leader's whereabouts first came last August, the President said, and on his order Sunday, "a small team of American commandos killed bin Laden and took custody of his body. His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace."
The news of bin Laden's death spread quickly on Twitter Sunday night after the White House announced the President would make a late-night statement. The first confirmation came when Keith Urbahn
, the Chief of Staff for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted: "I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden."
CNN, The Wall Street Journal, FOX
and the New York Times
raced to confirm.
A group grew outside the White House as the story developed, and could be heard chanting "U.S.A! U.S.A!" and singing the national anthem.
But it was the President who put it best, concluding: "On nights like this one, we can say that justice has been done."