WASHINGTON • Five years after United States special forces killed Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama says he hopes that in his last moments, the terror mastermind realised Americans had not forgotten about the 9/11 attacks.
In an interview with CNN, Mr Obama marked the anniversary of what many see as one of his presidency's greatest achievements: ending the long hunt for the elusive Saudi-born Al-Qaeda boss.
US special forces killed Osama in his Pakistani compound on May 2, 2011. "Hopefully, at that moment, he understood that the American people hadn't forgotten the some 3,000 people who he killed," Mr Obama said in the interview broadcast on Monday.
The President discussed his decision to carry out the raid despite imperfect intelligence. "We had prepared as well as we could," Mr Obama said, describing the planning as "meticulous".
"It was clear to me that this was going to be our best chance to get bin Laden," he said. "If in fact we did not take the action, that he might slip away and (it) might be years before he resurfaced.
"We knew it was going to cause some significant blowback within Pakistan and if it wasn't bin Laden, the costs would outweigh the benefits. Having weighed all that, I thought about the 9/11 families and their continuing pain and sense that it was important for us to bring him to justice."
Mr Obama called the decision to strike "emblematic of presidential decision-making".
"You're always working with probabilities, and you make a decision, not based on 100 per cent certainty, but with the best information that you've got," he told CNN in the White House's main Situation Room where he had watched the raid with his top military, intelligence and security advisers.
Mr Obama said he had entered the Situation Room to watch the raid just as one of the specially equipped Black Hawk helicopters hit the ground.
"I was thinking that this is not an ideal start," the President said. "Even though we had the best helicopter operators imaginable, despite the fact that they had practised these landings repeatedly in a mock-up, we couldn't account for temperature and the fact that helicopters start reacting differently in an enclosed compound where heat may be rising."
One of the 23 Navy Seals who conducted the raid smashed classified fixtures of the Black Hawk and then set off explosives to destroy it, CNN reported.
Mr Obama leaves office in January, with Al-Qaeda significantly diminished by drone strikes and somewhat eclipsed by its offshoot, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group.