George W. Bush Congratulates Obama, U.S. Troops

By Susan Jones | May 2, 2011 | 4:36 AM EDT

President Bush at the Smithsonian Museum on September 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

( - "Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001," former President George W. Bush said in a statement following the announcement that the United States finally has killed terror mastermind Osama bin Ladan.

"I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission," Bush said in his brief statement. “They have our everlasting gratitude. 

"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.  The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message:  No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

President Obama, in his midnight speech to the nation, said a "possible lead to bin Laden" emerged last August, "after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community."

Obama said it took "many months" to follow up on that lead: "I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.  And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice."

Obama said a small team of Americans carried out the operation, without injury to any of them. "After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."