Over a 15-year span, it is believed that Osama bin Laden cost the United States $3 trillion. That included his attacks on the United States, damage to the U.S. economy, the wars, and the hunt for the founder of al-Qaeda. But bin Laden’s reign of terror ended around 1:00 a.m. on May 2, 2011, when he was shot dead during a U.S. special forces operation code-named Operation Neptune Spear. Now the man who shot dead the mastermind behind 9/11 is telling his story of that historic night.
Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad, Pakistan when a team of elite U.S. Navy SEALs raided the compound. One of the members of SEAL Team Six was Robert O’Neill. and he wrote a book about the infamous raid. The Mirror published a dramatic excerpt from his new book, “The Operator,” about the infamous mission that took down the most wanted man on the planet.
The copter door opened. We were two minutes out, looking out at a city which had no idea we were coming. The compound came into view. It was dark, as if the power was out, and I had a fleeting thought that maybe our Agency guys had made that happen somehow.
The door opened. As we entered, it was all dawning on me: “Holy shit, we’re here, that’s Bin Laden’s house. This is so cool. We’re probably not going to live, but this is historic and I’m going to savor this.”
I could hear gunfire. I came around the corner to see one of our guys in the aftermath of a gunfight in front of the main house. He shot through a window, and a man and woman were down inside.
Osama’s son Khalid, the al-Qaeda leader’s last line of defense.
As we made our way up the stairs, I was five or six guys back. The woman intel analyst had told us we should expect Khalid bin Laden, Osama’s 23-year-old son, to be there, armed and ready, his father’s last line of defense.
“If you find Khalid,” she told us, “Osama’s on the next floor.”
A figure popped out just above us on the half landing between the first and second floor. We saw him for just an instant before he darted back behind a banister. He was armed with an AK-47.
The point man thought it through beautifully – Khalid knew somebody was nearby but he didn’t know we were Americans for sure. In no more than a whisper, my guy uttered a phrase he had learned before the mission began, in both of the languages Bin Laden’s son spoke, Arabic and Urdu – “Khalid, come here”.
Khalid, confused by hearing his name called, poked his head around the banister and said: “What?”
That was his final word. The point man shot him in the face. The bullet entered above the chin and exited out the back of his head. Khalid dropped. The train started moving up the stairs to the second floor, with me in the back. Everybody except the point man started clearing rooms on the second floor.
The search for bin Laden.
The point man kept his gun trained on the top of the stairs to the third floor, which was right in front of him, with a curtain hanging over the entryway. I moved up behind him and put my hand on his shoulder. There were only two of us left. This was it.
Our tactics said we should wait for more guys, but we needed to get up there. The point man was aware of this and he started to speak: “Hey, we got to go, we got to go.” I knew what he was thinking because I was thinking it, too – “OK, this is where the suicide bomber’s going to hit us.”
And then I had a thought so clear it was like a voice in my head. I’m tired of worrying about it, let’s just get it over. It wasn’t bravery, it was more like fatigue – I’m f***ing done with waiting for it to happen.
I squeezed his shoulder.
We swiftly moved up the stairs to the curtain and he pushed it aside. Two women stood there screaming at us. The point man lunged at them, assuming they had suicide vests, tackling both. If they blew up, his body would absorb most of the blast and I’d have a better chance of surviving and doing what we had come there to do.
Killing Osama bin Laden.
I turned to the right and looked into an adjoining room. Osama bin Laden stood near the entrance at the foot of the bed, taller and thinner than I’d expected, his beard shorter and hair whiter. He had a woman in front of him, his hands on her shoulders. In less than a second, I aimed above the woman’s right shoulder and pulled the trigger twice. Bin Laden’s head split open and he dropped. I put another bullet in his head. Insurance.
The woman, who turned out to be Amal, the youngest of Bin Laden’s four wives, fell on top of me. I carried her over to the bed.
For the first time, I noticed a little boy, Bin Laden’s youngest son, a two-year-old, tottering in a corner of the room. He’d watched the whole thing, but it was so dark and he was so young he didn’t know what was going on, except that it wasn’t good.
I picked him up and put him on the bed with the woman. Now other Seals began making their way into the room. I stood there and, kind of frozen, watched my guys do the work I’d seen them do hundreds of times. One of the guys came up to me and asked, “Are you OK?”
Was I? I felt blank. “Yeah,” I said. “What do we do now?” He laughed and said, “Now we go find the computers.” I said, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m back. Holy shit.”
“Yeah, you just killed Osama bin Laden.”
I can’t even imagine the chaos, tension, and magnitude of this lethal raid.
You can read the entire excerpt at The Mirror.
Based on this excerpt, O’Neill’s book sounds like a must-read. You can purchase “The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior” here.
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