Navy SEAL Who Killed Bin Laden Describes The Moment He Shot The al Qaeda Leader
Peter Foster, writing in the February 8, 2015 edition of The Daily Telegraph, National Post Wire Services, writes that “a U.S. Navy SEAL who claims to have fired the first shots that killed Osama bin Laden, has for the first time, described the moment he shot the al Qaeda leader in the head.” Not sure that statement is entirely accurate — given the fact that Fox News interviewed Mr. O’Neil for a two-hour show that aired on their network last November. But, I digress.
Mr. Foster describes the Navy SEAL as “an anonymous individual,” but,in an article in today’s (Feb. 8, 2015) edition of The London Sunday Times, written by Toby Harden, — it is pretty clear/highly probable, that former Navy SEAL Rob O’Neil is the ‘anonymous’ individual cited by Mr. Foster. Mr. O’Neil “tells how his wife and family live in constant fear of their lives; and, have taught their children to hide in the bathtub — at the first sign of a revenge attack.” This is one of the consequences of Mr. O’Neil’s controversial decision to conduct a two-hour interview with Fox news last November.
“in a 15,000-word account, the unnamed Nave SEAL [almost certainly Mr. O’Neil], “describes the huge elation — but, also the deep personal cost — that came with being the man who killed bin Laden, during a daring night raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 2, 2011.
“In that second I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap!” [probably a double-tap] shot often used by highly skilled special operators. “The second time, he’s going down. He crumpled on the floor in front of his bed; and, I shot him again. Bap! Same place.” Mr. O’Neil told Esquire Magazine, that “it was him alone who fired the fatal shots;” but, he was more nuanced in his Fox News interview. “He looked confused, and way taller than I was expecting, He was holding her [one of his wives], in front of him — maybe as a shield, I don’t know. For me, it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him. Even in our kill houses where we train, there are targets with his face on them. This was repetition, and muscle memory. That’s him…Boom!, and it’s done.”
“I thought in the first instant how skinny he was, how tall, and how short his beard was, all at once. He was wearing one of those white hats; but, he like, an almost shaved head. Like a crew cut. I remember all that registering. In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! He crumpled on the floor in front of his bed; and, I hit him again. Bap! Same place. That time, I used my EOTech red-dot halo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath. The entire episode was over in 15 seconds.”
“After shooting bin Laden, the SEAL admitted feeling “stunned;” but, he was swiftly jolted back to to reality, as he and the team cleared out the house. Upon returning, the SEAL [Presumably Mr. O’Neil], handed the magazine from his rifle to the female CIA officer who had been responsible for tracking down bin Laden.” I take nothing away from this CIA officer; but, there were lots of folks across the Intelligence Community that put in very long hours, and devoted their lives to attempting to find bin Laden. Could this one CIA officer be solely responsible for identifying his exact location — I do know know. But, I do know there were lots of intelligence community personnel that likely played key/pivotal roles in his ultimate discovery.
“After the raid, the SEAL was offered a place in the witness protection program — delivering beer in Milwaukee. He decided against the offer,” Mr. Foster wrote,”because like mafia “snitches,’ he would lose all contact with his friends and family. Afraid of reprisals, the SEAL [likely Mr. O’Neil], “said he taught his family how to defend themselves, should they be attacked. He told his children to hide in the bathtub — the most fortified place in the house — and, taught his wife how to use a shotgun. The family also had clothes and provisions meant to last them two weeks in hiding.”t
I wonder if he had it to do all over again, would Mr. O’Neil have come forward publicly and conducted his two-hour interview with Fox News. His decision was controversial, and, is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for “revealing crucial, and perhaps classified details.” Mr. O’Neil was reportedly, repeatedly warned by the U.S. Navy’s top leaders, not to go on air and speak publicly about his participation in the secretive mission…but, did so anyway, and spoke at length about his role.” in the Fox News interview.
Some have argued that Mr. O’Neil did not disclose anything of any real value; and argue that this comments were not any more egregious than other previous comments — by the White House and other high-level Obama administration officials. Other SEALs’ on the mission with Mr. O’Neil say it is impossible to know if he was the actual shooter who fired the fatal shot. Fellow SEAL Mark Bissonnette, also claims to have shot bin Laden; while others say an unidentified third SEAL actually fired the fatal shot. Mr. Bisonnette is also currently under investigation for revealing details of the bin Laden raid and other technical aspects of a special operations raid in his book, “No Easy Day,” which he reportedly declined to fully vet with military censors prior to its publication.
In an open letter, signed and released by the Navy’s top two SEAL leaders — just before the Fox News interview –the senior SEAL leaders wrote “that members of the Naval Special Warfare community not only serve alongside other U.S. military members, but also other U.S. government agencies and foreign allies. “Little individual credit” is ever given, according to the letter, due to the “nature of our profession.” The two also point out the years of hard work that go into operations like the one that targeted Bin Ladin, seemingly defying one or two individual shooters’ claims on the glory and fame that result from the success of such a mission.” The point they make is that it took so much more than the final trigger pull to kill Bin Ladin, so why should one SEAL assume the of THE ONE Who Killed bin Ladin?” Sort of the point I was making with the female CIA officer.
Leaving little doubt of the disdain that they, and others in the community, feel toward breaches of the SEAL ethos, Rear Admiral Brian Losey, Commander of NSWC, and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci state that violators of that ethos “are neither teammates in good standing, nor teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare.” They reiterate that a central part of the ethos is not advertising the nature of their work, nor seeking recognition for particular actions.
The letter is also likely directed at former SEAL Team Six member Matt Bissonnette, who wrote No Easy Day under the pen name “Mark Owen,” detailing his role in the Bin Ladin raid.
Finally, the SEAL leaders point out in the letter that revealing classified information is a violation of the law, and that the command will actively seek “judicial consequences” for members who violate the law. This seems to be a broadside directed against both Bissonnette and O’Neil, as well as any other current or former SEAL’s who might consider in the future selling their stories of highly classified operations.
I understand and sympathize with the fact that he “lives in constant fear,” for his, and his family’s lives. And, the nation, and the world will be forever indebted to him and his fellow SEAL Team 6 comrades But, his decision to come public, increased the danger to him, his family, and those with whom were with him on the mission. It doesn’t take a whole lot these days to “connect-the-dots,” and identify someone who wants to stay hidden. And,determination by al Qaeda may well have discovered his and his teammates identities regardless. But, we shouldn’t make it easy for them. I want to make clear that I am not judging Mr. O’Neil’s decision to come public; and, maybe his decision to come public has commendable merits. But, I do wonder, if he had it to do all over again, would he conduct the interview with Fox? Once that initial interview was done, today’s stories by The London Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph National Wire Services, are much less consequential.
I wish Mr. O’Neil luck; and, hope in the long run, things work out for him. What the consequences of his public disclosures will ultimately be — only time will tell. One thing that is unfortunately very likely, is Mr. O’Neil, his family, and any of his teammates that al Qaeda may have been able to identify — are no doubt on the top of al Qaeda’s hit list. We have to do everything we can to protect them; and, hopefully kill al Qaeda over there — so they never get here. V/R, RCP