Bap! Bap! US Seal tells of killing Bin Laden
Published 12/02/2013 | 04:00
A US NAVY Seal who claims to have fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden has described for the first time the moment he shot the al-Qai'da leader twice in the head.
However, the anonymous shooter also told how his wife and family now lived in constant fear of their lives, and had taught their children to hide in the bathtub at the first sign of a revenge attack.
In a 15,000-word account, the unnamed member of Seal Team 6 describes the huge elation – but also the deep personal cost – that came with being the man who killed Bin Laden during the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011.
He told 'Esquire' magazine that it was him alone that fired the fatal shots. The Seal said he was through the doorway of a third-floor bedroom when he saw bin Laden move across the room clutching one of his wives and advancing towards an AK47 rifle on a shelf.
"He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting," said the Seal. "He was holding her 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, done. I thought in that 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 had, 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! The second time as he's going down. He crumpled on to the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place.
"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, he said. After the shooting, the Seal admitted feeling "stunned", but he was swiftly jolted back to reality as he and the team cleared out the house.
On returning, the soldier handed the magazine from his rifle – minus three bullets – as a souvenir to the female CIA officer who had been responsible for tracking down Bin Laden. The interview highlighted the psychological price paid by the elite special forces and the surprising lack of support after leaving the force.
After the raid, the Seal said he was offered a place in a witness protection programme – delivering beer in Milwaukee. He decided against the offer because "like Mafia snitches" he would lose contact with all his friends and family.
He said he had taught his family how to defend themselves, telling his children to hide in the bathtub – the most fortified place in the house – and taught his wife how to use a shotgun.
He gave the interview only after leaving the service after 16 years, without a pension or healthcare. (© Daily Telegraph, London)