Bin Laden: code name Geronimo

“We have a visual on Geronimo.”

It was the first confirmation that Osama bin Laden was definitely in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan last Sunday.

Geronimo and Osama bin Laden: Elusive

Shortly afterwards, a Navy Seal halfway across the world sent the message “Geronimo EKIA” – meaning enemy killed in action – which was relayed to a jubilant White House Situation Room.

Why Geronimo? The code name was chosen for bin Laden because, like the Apache chief, he had managed to evade capture for years and was apparently able to vanish into thin air.

As London’s Daily Telegraph reports, Geronimo’s ability to stay on the run gave rise to legends that he was able to walk without leaving any tracks, and that he could survive being shot.

“Abottabad sounds like name most New Yorkers would have invented for the fictional place they would have loved to kill Bin Laden.”

John Stewart, The Daily Show.

More than a century before bin Laden escaped from the caves of Tora Bora, Geronimo was said to have pulled off a similar evasion in New Mexico. He and his followers entered a cave which was said to have only one visible entrance, and then disappeared as US troops waited at the front.

More than 5,000 soldiers were used to hunt Geronimo and a small band of followers. Unlike bin Laden he eventually surrendered in 1886.

He went on to embrace Christianity and to become a celebrity, appearing at the World’s Fair in St Louis in 1904, and at the inaugural parade for President Theodore Roosevelt the following year.

  • Abbottabad is named after General Sir James Abbott, a British army officer in colonial India who founded the town. The ‘abad’ ending comes from Urdu, originating from Persian to mean ‘abode, town or settlement’.
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3 thoughts on “Bin Laden: code name Geronimo

  1. Pingback: Fallen – no funeral for Bin Laden « Flickr Comments

  2. Pingback: Geronimo EKIA–Bin Laden Is Dead. | Mentality's Mind

  3. Tim Price

    As details have continued to emerge, Fox News (I know, I know) now reports that Geronimo was not, in fact, the code name for bin Laden but rather a code word for “G”, the 7th operational step of the raid:

    “Back at the White House Situation Room, word was relayed that bin Laden had been found, signaled by the code word “Geronimo.” That was not bin Laden’s code name, but rather a representation of the letter “G.” Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically, and “Geronimo” meant that the raiders had reached step “G,” the killing or capture of bin Laden, two officials said.”

    What’s interesting to note, however, is that one might reasonably presume that Geronimo is simply the designation for “G” according to the International Phonetic Code. But it’s not. That would be Golf. Considering that “Golf EKIA” doesn’t sound nearly as triumphant, one still wonders if the military’s version of the story was concocted post-mortem to silence the outcry from Native Americans who (rightfully, IMO) took offense.

    Read more:

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