Osama bin Laden 'was dead in 90 seconds'
A controversial new account of the killing of Osama bin Laden has challenged the official story of the how the al-Qaeda leader died during the raid on his Pakistani hideout in May.
Chuck Pfarrer, a former commander of US Navy SEAL Team Six, whose members carried out the assault, claims bin Laden was shot dead almost instantly rather than killed in a 45-minute firefight.
Claiming to have interviewed several men involved in the raid, Pfarrer also contradicted the official account of how the SEAL team landed and how one of their Black Hawk helicopters crashed.
"The SEALs entered the building after being deposited on the roof by the lead helicopter, not from the ground," Pfarrer said in a statement about the book.
"Only minutes after bin Laden was dead did the lead helicopter, heading for a landing spot, lose altitude and sink, tail-first, into the large walled enclosure east of the main house." Pfarrer explains that if the SEALs had been forced to climb stairs to reach bin Laden, as has been officially claimed, he would have had enough warning to arm and effectively defend himself.
"Bin Laden was dead within 90 seconds of the beginning of the raid, not after an extended firefight," Pfrarrer said. "Four suppressed rounds were fired".
Pfarrer adds that Amal bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief's youngest wife, was wounded in the calf during the second round of fire, as she was shoved her in the way of the shooters. This chimes more with an account that was originally stated by US officials in the immediate aftermath of the attack, before later being withdrawn.
Pfarrer describes his book as an "explosive story of unparallelled valour, clockwork military precision, and deadly accuracy". But it was dismissed as "plain wrong" by US officials.
The book also argues that bin Laden's long-time deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, may have been ultimately responsible for leading the US to his boss because he repeatedly sent a courier, whose cover he must have known had already been blown, in and out of the compound.
A trusted Kuwaiti courier, Abu Ahmad, is believed to have been followed by US officials for several months before the raid after his name emerged in interrogations of other al-Qaeda suspects and he was tracked down to Abbottabad.
The book, which is due to be released later this month, is said to have been delayed for several weeks while being cleared by government officials.
Its UK edition is being revised due to concerns that individuals named may sue the author for libel.