Navy SEAL who killed Osama breaks silence

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WASHINGTON: The Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden broke his silence Monday, recounting the night he shot the Al-Qaeda leader three times and the financial anxiety he now faces as an unemployed civilian.

 

The commando kept his identity secret in the Esquire magazine interview,  but revealed his role in the daring May 2011 raid for the first time, as well  as the worries he has for his family’s security.
 
“He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting,” the SEAL said of  Osama.
 
When the commandos came upon Osama  in the dark on the third floor of  his hideout in the town of Abbottabad in Pakistan, the Al-Qaeda mastermind had  his hands on his youngest wife’s shoulders, “pushing her ahead” and there was  an AK-47 assault rifle nearby.
 
“I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them  both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so  he won’t have a chance to clack himself off (blow himself up),” the commando  said.
 
“In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The  second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed  and I hit him again, Bap! same place.
 
“He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out.”    The Esquire article, which referred to the unnamed commando as “the  Shooter,” focused on the Navy SEAL’s plight as an anonymous hero without a  pension, health insurance or extra security for his family, with the title: 
 
“The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden... is Screwed.”    The lengthy magazine profile came after another Navy SEAL who took part in  the raid, Matt Bissonnette, published a book last year — “No Easy Day” —  which drew the ire of Pentagon officials who allege he broke a pledge not to  disclose classified information.
   
Soldiers and spies, whether retired or not, are required to submit  manuscripts to the Pentagon for review to ensure no sensitive information is  published. But the Esquire piece was not submitted to the department for  vetting beforehand, a US defence official said.
 
The Defence Department is now looking at the article to check if any  classified material was divulged, the official told AFP on condition of  anonymity.
 
The Esquire article confirmed earlier accounts, including one in “No Easy  Day,” describing how once Osama  was mortally wounded and collapsed on the  floor, other SEALs shot him repeatedly in the chest and legs.
 
According to Esquire, the whole confrontation with Osama  took only 15  seconds. But the most harrowing moment came earlier, when the shooter learned  that one of the stealthy Black Hawk helicopters used in the raid had  crash-landed at the compound.
 
“We’re never getting out of here now,” he said.
 
“I thought we’d have to steal cars and drive to Islamabad. Because the  other option was to stick around and wait for the Pakistani military to show  up... That’s when I got concerned.”    After the raid, back at a base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, the shooter  brought over a female CIA officer — now made famous by the Hollywood film “Zero Dark Thirty” — to see Osama's  corpse.
 
“We looked down and I asked, ’Is that your guy?’ She was crying,” he said.
 
“That’s when I took my magazine out of my gun and gave it to her as a  souvenir. Twenty-seven bullets left in it. ’I hope you have room in your  backpack for this.’ That was the last time I saw her.”    The CIA officer is portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film as a relentless,  dedicated agent, convinced after steadfastly monitoring the movements of a  courier that Osama  was in the Abbottabad compound.
   
Although he cited some details in the movie as unrealistic, the commando  said the CIA character rings true. 
 
He shared some lighter moments, too. On the helicopter ride to Osama's   hideout, he badly needed to urinate and relieved himself in an empty water  bottle.
 
“My biggest concern was having to piss really bad and then having to get  off in a fight needing to pee,” he said. 
 
“I forgot until later that when I shot bin Laden in the face, I had a  bottle of piss in my pocket.”    After the operation was over, he reveled in the raid’s success in which no  SEALs were killed or wounded. But by the summer of 2012, after retiring from  the military, he got nervous about potential revenge attacks on his family and  how ti make a living as a civilian.
 
And because he left the US Navy after 16 years of service, he does not  qualify for a pension awarded only to those who remain in uniform for at least  20 years.
 
 “He gave so much to his country, and now it seems he’s left in the dust,”  his wife said. -- AFP

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