It may be a while before photographs of the daring US mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden emerge, DPA reported.
But the overnight a picture released by the White House showed US President Barack Obama in the Situation Room watching the tense 40-minute mission unfold.
Obama hunches forward in his chair with anxiety, surrounded by his top security officials. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clamps her hand over her mouth in seeming disbelief.
"The minutes passed like days," said John Brennan, assistant to the president for counterterrorism, who described the silence in the room Sunday afternoon.
"It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time , I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here," Brennan said.
Pakistan had not been alerted to the impending raid, which took place early Monday morning Pakistan time, in Abbotabad.
It was not clear what exactly what images Obama and the others were watching. But they were able to follow as reportedly four helicopters carrying Navy SEALs entered Pakistani airspace, dropped them onto the roof of the bin Laden compound, then picked them up afterwards along with the corpse of the terrorist leader.
After reports of gunfire and explosions from the raid, the Pakistanis "were scrambling some of their assets," Brennan said. "We were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of Pakistani airspace."
Obama has repeatedly expressed praise for the operatives who carried out this "incredibly dangerous mission" - but only as details emerge has it become clear how much was at risk.
A firefight ensued at the compound. A woman, possibly a wife of bin Laden according to media reports, was used as a shield at one point, Brennan said. She was killed, along with three other men: the al Qaeda courier who had been tracked for four years; his brother; and possibly bin Laden's adult son.
The worst moments for Obama and his team came when one of the helicopters malfunctioned, Brennan said, and had to be destroyed.
Then there was the long wait for confirmation it was bin Laden: "Facial recognition, height, the preliminary DNA analysis," Brennan said.
Reporters asked about the president's reaction when the identity was confirmed.
"We got him," Brennan quoted Obama as saying.