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Osama bin Laden raid nearly called off

By Sam Marsden

The US raid that killed Osama bin Laden was nearly called off at the last minute after officials questioned whether he had really been found, a new documentary has revealed.

US president Barack Obama considered halting the daring special forces mission following an intelligence review that concluded there was less than a 50% chance that the al-Qaida leader was in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which was identified by the CIA.

On the eve of the operation, only half of his senior security advisers recommended going ahead with the plan, according to the Channel 4 programme.

Mr Obama slept on the problem overnight, and the next day decided it was worth "taking the shot" even though he believed it was only "50-50" that bin Laden was there. US Navy Seals killed the al- Qaida leader in his secret compound at the start of May in a dramatic raid watched anxiously by the president from the White House Situation Room.

The new documentary, to be broadcast next week, looks at the last-minute debate inside the White House about whether the mission should go ahead.

In late April, Mr Obama commissioned a fresh review of the intelligence by analysts from America's National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) who had not been involved in the operation up to that point. The CIA had previously said there was a 60-70% certainty that bin Laden was living there, but the NCTC team suggested the true figure could be just 40%.

Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill will be shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on September 7.

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