9/11 Museum Debuts Exhibition About Hunt for Osama bin Laden

The 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was marked yesterday with ceremonies at the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City and at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and for the occasion a new exhibition about the man-hunt that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden opened at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

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“Maya” challenge coin.
Photo: Jin Lee, courtesy the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

The small exhibition features photographs as well as three items related to the 2011 raid that ended the life of the al-Qaeda leader responsible for the 2001 attacks: one of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six uniform shirts worn during the mission, a brick that was found on the scene during the attack, and a commemorative “challenge” coin marking the success of the raid, donated to the museum by the CIA intelligence operative known only as “Maya” who was instrumental in the pursuit of the terrorist leader.

The coin is marked with the date of the operation, May 1, 2011, on one side, and has a red “X” mark on the other, a reference to former president George W. Bush’s practice of marking off a list of key al-Qaeda operatives with red Xs whenever one was killed or captured.

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Brick from bin Laden compound.
Photo: Jin Lee, courtesy the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

“These artifacts testify to the outcome of years of effort to locate Osama bin Laden,” 9/11 Memorial Museum director Alice Greenwald said in a statement. “The shirt worn by one of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six members during the successful raid at bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad—referenced also by the brick from that compound—connects us in a powerful and immediate way to that operation.”

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SEAL Team 6 shirt flag patch.
Photo: Jin Lee, courtesy the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

“I have had the distinct honor to meet the man who wore this shirt into battle and donated it to represent the heroic efforts of Seal Team 6 for their execution of Operation Neptune Spear,” added 9/11 Memorial Museum president Joe Daniels in a press release. “I thank him and ‘Maya’—both for their bravery, courage and determination, which provided a measure of justice for every single American, and for entrusting us with these artifacts of such national and international importance.”

The years-long investigation led by “Maya” that ultimately tracked bin Laden to his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was the subject of the Academy Award-winning film Zero Dark Thirty.


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