This Day in History (4-Nov-2008) – Barack Obama elected as America’s first black president

Barack Obama was born to a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya. He worked his way through school—Occidental College in Los Angeles, Columbia University in New York, and later, Harvard Law School—with the help of scholarship money and student loans. At the age of 24, Barack Obama moved to Chicago, where he got his start in community organizing on the city’s South Side, working to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants. Obama called that time in his life “the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School.”  He launched his political career in 1996, when he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. He was re-elected to that post in 1998 and 2000. In March 2004, he shot to national prominence by winning the U.S. Senate Democratic primary in Illinois, and that July he gained further exposure when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, which included his eloquent call for unity among “red” (Republican) and “blue” (Democratic) states. That November, Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in a landslide. On February 10, 2007, in Springfield, Illinois, Obama officially announced his candidacy for president.

During the general-election campaign, as in the primaries, Obama’s team worked to build a following at the grassroots level and used what his supporters viewed as the candidate’s natural charisma, unique life story and inspiring message of hope and change to draw large crowds to his public appearances, both in the United States and on a campaign trip abroad. His team also worked to bring new voters–many of them young or black, both demographics they believed favored Obama–to become involved in the election. Additionally, the campaign was notable for its unprecedented use of the Internet for organizing constituents and fundraising. According to The Washington Post: “3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less.” On November 4, more than 69.4 million Americans cast their vote for Obama, while some 59.9 million voters chose McCain. Obama became the 44th U.S. president, and the first African American elected to the White House.


This Day in History (2-May-2011) – A night raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan by American special operations kills Osama bin Laden

In 2007, U.S. intelligence uncovered the name of one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers. By August 2010, they identified the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan as the home of the courier and his brother. In a months’ time, the CIA informed President Barack Obama that bin Laden may be living in the Abbottabad compound. They based this on the size and price tag of the compound as well as the elaborate security. Satellites performed more than 387 “collects” of high-resolution and infrared images of the Abbottabad compound in the month before the raid.  In March and April 2011, President Obama chaired the five National Security Council meetings to discuss an operation to raid bin Laden’s compound. On 29th April morning, Obama gave the order to raid bin Laden’s compound.

Operation Neptune was launched in full coordination with the Pakistani Air Force and  ground forces. A group of 25 Navy Seals allegedly flew from the Jalalabad airbase in Afghanistan in the two ‘modified’ Black Hawk helicopters and landed in Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound some 90 minutes later in the early morning hours of 2nd May. The operation took 40 minutes total. U.S. Special Forces breached the outer walls of the compound before fighting their way through the ground floor of the three story building where bin Laden lived. The firefight then moved to the second and third floors where the bin Laden family lives. In the last 5-10 minutes of the firefight, bin Laden was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, above the left eye. Three men, including a son of bin Laden, were killed as well as one woman.  Bin Laden’s body was identified by one of his wives.

Eight hours after the raid, a forensic intelligence laboratory run by the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan analyzed DNA from bin Laden’s corpse and “provided a conclusive match” confirming his identity.  He was buried at sea off the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Sea, within 24 hours according to Islamic law. On 6th May, Al Qaeda confirmed bin Laden’s death, in a statement on jihadist forums.