Two individuals observing installations in a gallery space.
Photo by C&G Partners

Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden

Told by those who were involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, this special exhibition sheds light on the intelligence and military activities that led to the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan nearly 10 years after 9/11.

On view through May 2021

In a gallery space, two visitors watch a projected film on horizontal surface and a visitor looks at a display case.
Photo by C&G Partners

About the Exhibition

Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden leads visitors through the global hunt for Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. The story begins with the efforts before 2001 to monitor bin Laden’s whereabouts and to determine his plans and culminates in the U.S. Navy SEAL raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Visitors will hear from intelligence officers, law enforcement, and military members involved in the 10-year manhunt and will learn how intelligence collection and analysis evolved over the years to combat the changing landscape of terrorism. Eventually, by following a trail through the al-Qaeda network, the intelligence community pinpoints the location of a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where a tall figure was known to be walking the grounds.

This exhibition gives visitors unprecedented access to the agencies and individuals who were involved in the hunt and conducted the culminating raid, known as Operation Neptune Spear. More than 60 artifacts, some newly declassified, are featured in the exhibition along with several immersive multimedia experiences. Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden tells a critical and powerful story of how the United States intelligence, military, and federal law enforcement came together after 9/11 with a single-minded focus to bring one man to justice.

Presentation of Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden has been made possible with the support of presenting sponsors Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., and Palantir Technologies, as well as Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Objects on View

Now, nearly a decade after his death, those involved in tracking down Osama bin Laden have joined the Museum to share their experiences. In the exhibition, you will encounter artifacts that have never been shared with the public and hear firsthand accounts from intelligence officers, government officials, law enforcement agents, military leaders, and special operations forces.

Model of Osama bin Laden’s compound used by U.S. officials in creating options for action

Courtesy of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

This detailed model gave President Obama’s advisers a platform for considering possible options for action against the compound. The model also helped guide the construction of two full-size replicas of the compound where SEAL Team Six trained for the raid.

A model of the white and gray compound that housed bin Laden rests on a bed of dry-looking grass. A red courier van is parked out front.

Operation Neptune Spear challenge coin

Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of “Maya,” CIA officer

After 9/11, U.S. President George W. Bush kept a list in his desk of key al-Qaeda operatives still at large. Whenever one was exposed, arrested, or killed, he would make a red X mark through the assailant’s name.

Three people standing staggered in a dark room, looking at black and white photos.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Reflecting on 9/11: An Ongoing Threat

Worldwide, people are living with the daily threat of terrorism. Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State continue to plan attacks globally, with locations ranging from New York City and Paris, France, to Mogadishu, Somalia, and Surabaya, Indonesia. Additionally, lone actors, often motivated by online propaganda, enact their own plots.

In conjunction with the special exhibition Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden, the Museum invites visitors to share their reflections on 9/11 and other terror attacks in one of our on-site recording booths. Visitor recordings will be added to the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s digital archive and may be featured in the Reflecting on 9/11 gallery in the future.

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