The Navy SEAL who said he killed Osama Bin Laden has described the moment he pulled the trigger and shot the world’s most wanted man in the head.
In his new book, The Operator, O’Neill paints a macabre picture of bin Laden’s head cracking open after being shot.
Robert O’Neill, 41, a decorated veteran who fought in more than 400 separate combat missions, recounted his distinguished career in his new memoir The Operator.
The new book details the historic night in 2011 he stormed the high-security compound in Abbottobad, Pakistan.
As signs began to suggest the leader of al-Qaeda, the most-wanted man in the world, and 9/11 mastermind was indeed inside, O’Neill told himself to savor the moment. O’neill thought to himself, it was likely he wouldn’t make it out…. alive.
Seal Team 6 breached the compound, and the point man killed Bin Laden’s last line of defense with the help of one well-rehearsed phrase before O’Neill came face-to-face with Bin Laden, who was shielded by his youngest wife in a dark room.
O’Neill ascertained that they were on to something when a breacher blew out the metal gate to the compound, only to find a solid brick wall on the other side.
While the breacher lamented their initial failure to gain entry, O’Neill said: ‘No, this is good. That’s a fake door. That means he’s in there.’
When the SEALs finally walked into the compound, it began to dawn on O’Neill that the hunt for Bin Laden – which took nearly a decade, and countless resources – was coming to a head.
He thought: ‘Holy s***, 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.’
The SEALs quickly cleared rooms filled with women and children and made their way up a set of stairs after breaching another door.
O’Neill wrote: ‘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 man appeared on a landing above the SEALs with an AK-47, before darting behind a banister.
The point man, who learned to say ‘Khalid, come here’ in both Arabic and Urdu, quietly whispered the phrase – confusing the 23-year-old, who at that point had no idea American soldiers were inside the compound.
Bin Laden’s son, on instinct, stuck his head out and said, ‘What?’ before a bullet from a SEAL struck him in the head.
The team tactically advanced up, and through to clear rooms, while O’Neill and the point man decided to face the architect behind the 9/11 attacks.
O’Neill wrote: ‘Our tactics said we should wait for more guys, but we needed to get up there….
‘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.’
In an exclusive extract from Robert O’Neill’s book in the Mirror, O’Neill describes the tense moment when his team of professional killers were dropped by helicopter and crept over to the terror chief’s secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May of 2011.
Once they entered he describes trailing at least five other Navy SEALs up the stairs to the second floor.
They believed this was where bin Laden, three of his four wives and 17 of his children were holed up.
When they encountered two women at the top of the stairs, the point man bravely threw himself at them, thinking they were armed with suicide vests.
‘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,’ O’Neill wrote.
When he turned to another room, he saw Bin Laden, ‘taller and thinner than I’d expected, his beard shorter and hair whiter’.
A woman stood in front of him, but O’Neill didn’t hesitate. He aimed above her shoulder and pulled the trigger twice, writing: ‘Bin Laden’s head split open and he dropped.
‘I put another bullet in his head. Insurance.’
O’Neill, and fellow SEAL Team 6 members were also on the missions that helped rescue Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates and SEAL Marcus Luttrell from Afghanistan.
In a statement issued through publisher Scribner, O’Neill said he wanted to show ‘the human side’ of the battles fought for the country. He wanted the world to know their story.
‘They are extraordinary people, but they are also normal and I was proud to serve with them,’ he said. ‘I also wanted to show that it is possible to do anything you want, no matter where you are from, as long as you work hard, avoid negativity and never quit.’
O’Neill first alleged that he had killed bin Laden in 2014, the US Government neither confirmed or denied O’Neill’s claims.
Around the same time, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command issued a letter criticizing violations of the SEAL ‘ethos’ against self-promotion.
‘A critical tenant of our ethos is “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions,”‘ wrote Rear Adm. Brian Losey. ‘Our ethos is a life-long commitment and obligation, both in and out of the service. Violators of our ethos are neither teammates in good standing, nor teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare.’
Another SEAL on the bin Laden mission, Matthew Bissonnette, wrote the best-selling ‘No Easy Day’ in 2012.
Completed under the pseudonym ‘Mark Owen,’ the book offered a detailed accounting of the raid, However it did not identify by name the SEAL who killed bin Laden.
Bissonnette was threatened with prison for not getting approval of his manuscript with the Pentagon. Last year he agreed to pay the government millions of dollars for back earnings and legal fees. A Scribner spokesman said the Pentagon has cleared O’Neill’s book.
O’Neill is a decorated, now retired, Navy SEAL, including two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor and a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor.
His book, Scribner announced, ‘will offer powerful stories about – and new insights into – our war against terror, and will capture the fierce and unique brotherhood among SEALs – many of whom spend up to 300 days away from their families and rely on team members for their survival’.
O’Neill left the military in 2012 – four years shy of retirement. After returning to civilian life, O’Neill and his wife separated. According to a 2013 Esquire article, the couple had children together, though it’s uncertain how many. He is now engaged to 27-year-old Jessica Halpin, who is based in New York.
O’neill’s book is available for purchase.
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