A new exhibit documenting the decadelong search for Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden will open next month at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City, and a news conference on Wednesday said the exhibit has secured declassified government documents and artifacts to display for visitors.
The exhibit will provide insider access to the frantic hunt after 9/11 for the mastermind behind the tragedy.
“Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden” opens Nov. 15 at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and provides a multimedia account of the mission that ended with bin Laden’s 2011 death in Pakistan.
The exhibit breaks down the process of hunting terrorists in a whodunit-style drama with graphics, videos and the voices of various key protagonists. They include intelligence agents, former President Barack Obama and members of the Navy SEAL team that ultimately raided bin Laden’s lair and killed him in his bedroom.
"This is essentially a kind of crime story, however, at a horrific scale of crime and at a global scale of pursuit, with many trials and tribulations," the exhibit's main designer, Jonathan Alger, said Wednesday at a news conference at the museum.
"The entire space is cinematic," he said. "At the time, every single minute and second, it was a cliffhanger."
But the exhibit is no glorification of the process -- one section titled “Gains and Setbacks” details the failure of the U.S. to catch bin Laden before he fled Afghanistan pre-9/11.
A former top spy said at the new conference U.S. operatives did not do enough to catch bin Laden before he orchestrated the largest terror attack ever on U.S. soil. "We were working on it; we just didn't do enough," said Mark Kelton, the former CIA chief in Pakistan who led the operations that culminated in SEALs raiding bin Laden’s compound there.
Photos show the scope of the search, including caves and mountain ranges in Afghanistan where bin Laden was believed to be hiding under the protection of the Taliban.
The Taliban issued passports to Al Qaeda members to allow them to move about freely and one of those passports will be on display at the exhibit, along with enrollment forms the terror group used to recruit new members.
Firsthand accounts from members of Navy SEAL Team 6 were recorded and will be on display detailing how the team tracked bin Laden's courier and descended in a helicopter on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, while the Obama administration watched from the White House.
The 9/11 museum is a nonprofit built on the Lower Manhattan site where more than 2,700 people died in the attack on the World Trade Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.