Bin Laden did NOT reach for his gun moments before he was shot dead by Navy SEAL: Another member of Team Six gives account of night
- Latest leak contradicts account given in recent Esquire article
- Navy SEAL source says that story of The Shooter is ‘complete B-S’
- Esquire editor-in-chief says: ‘We stand by our story’
By DAMIEN GAYLE
A third member of the U.S. special forces unit that raided Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound has come forward to tell his story – with yet another version of how the Al Qaeda chief met his end.
The previous account, given by a Navy SEAL only identified as The Shooter in Esquire magazine, claimed he had confronted Bin Laden in the terror chief’s bedroom and shot him twice in the forehead when he saw him reach for a gun.
But now a third member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who says he came face to face with Bin Laden in the Islamist figurehead’s final moments has spoken out to say details of Esquire’s scoop are ‘complete B-S’.
The latest leak comes after one Navy SEAL published a book last year about his role in the Abbottabad raid and a second spoke to U.S. Esquire for a 15,000 word article published last month.
The men’s magazine in February published a lengthy profile of ‘The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden’, whom they identified only as ‘the shooter’.
The Shooter told Esquire that on the fateful night he had confronted Bin Laden in the terror chief’s bedroom and shot him twice in the forehead when he saw him reach for a gun.
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That account completely contradicted that given by Matt Bissonnette, another Team 6 member, in his best-selling book No Easy Day, which was written under the pseudonym Mark Owen.
Now a third member of the secretive military unit has broken cover to tell CNN security analyst Peter Bergen that the story presented in Esquire is rubbish.
It is unclear whether he had official authorisation to speak to the media.
Just after midnight on the morning of May 2, 2011, 23 commandos and their interpreter attacked Bin Laden’s compound. They shot and killed his two bodyguards, one of his sons and the wife of one bodyguard.
The first three soldiers to reach the top floor of the house, where Bin Laden’s bedroom was believed to be, were ‘the point man’, ‘the shooter’ whom Esquire profiled, and the now-famous Bissonnette.
So far all three accounts are in agreement.
The Shooter told Esquire that what happened next was that Bin Laden peered through his bedroom door and the point man shot at and either missed or lightly wounded him, before peeling off to tackle two women nearby.
The Shooter claims he then ran alone into the room where he found Bin Laden hiding behind one of his wives, perhaps using her as a human shield. Seeing a gun ‘within reach’ he shot the Islamist twice in the head.
But according to the latest account to emerge, the story is far less heroic.
Bergen reports that what actually happened, according to his source, is that the point man shot and gravely wounded Bin Laden.
The point man then leapt on the two nearby women – to absorb any explosion in case they were wearing suicide vests – as two more SEALs went into Bin Laden’s bedroom and, seeing he was mortally wounded, finished him off.
The account is largely in agreement with that given in No Easy Day, where Bissonnette says he was one of the first in the room, saw Bin Laden close to death, then finished him off as he lay on the floor.
The source who spoke to Bergen told him there was no way The Shooter could have seen a gun in Bin Laden’s possession because the guns found in the room were only discovered on a high shelf after a thorough search.
Pouring more scorn on the Esquire account, the source further told CNN that The Shooter was actually sacked from the SEAL unit in question after bragging about his role in the raid in bars.
That contradicted claims in the Esquire article which had cast their source as a humble, retired soldier now struggling to make ends meet after leaving the military while dealing with the physical and psychological scars of the event.
Rumours had already been circulating that Esquire had been fooled by their source.
Gawker points to a post by military blogger Brandon Webb, a former SEAL himself, who cited anonymous SEAL commandos to claim Esquire had been duped.
In his post, Webb repeated the claim that The Shooter had lost his place on the SEAL team for his bar-room bragging.
Esquire, nevertheless, have stood by their story, which is closer to the official account given by U.S. authorities than either of the accounts given by CNN or Bissonnette.
Bergen himself admitted in his CNN piece that, with the compound’s buildings now demolished, there is no way to conduct a forensic examination to determine which account is the truth.
This morning David Granger, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, posted a strident denial that his contributor had got his facts wrong.
It reads: ‘Esquire and Phil Bronstein, the veteran journalist and writer of the story, object to CNN’s report in the strongest possible terms.
‘By stark contrast with Bronstein’s thoroughgoing 15,000 word report, the CNN story constitutes a mere act of assertion.
‘As far as can be gleaned from the report, it is based on the opinion of one current SEAL who was not on the bin Laden mission and who therefore could not have first-hand knowledge of it.
‘It is little more than gossip.
‘Esquire’s story remains the most thoroughly reported account of the raid and of the death of Osama bin Laden.’
Mark Owen’s account of events
The SEALs cautiously approached the room where they found two women, hysterically crying and standing over a man lying at the foot of a bed.
The younger of the two women rushed at the point man who grabbed them both and herded them into a corner. Owen comments that had the women been wearing suicide vests, this action would have cost the soldier his life but saved those of his colleagues.
According to No Easy Day, the fallen man, wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt, tan trousers and a tan tunic, had been shot in the right side of his head.
‘Blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull,’ writes Owen. ‘In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing.’
Owen and another Seal shot more rounds into his chest until he was motionless.
At least three children sat stunned in the corner of the room as the commandos cleared two small rooms just off the bedrooms.
Other Seal teams cleared the rest of the third level until it was declared secure. Owen and his comrades then examined the body.
He says: ‘The man’s face was mangled from at least one bullet wound and covered in blood. A hole in his forehead collapsed the right side of his skull.
‘His chest was torn up from where the bullets had entered his body.
‘He was lying in an ever-growing pool of blood. As I crouched down to take a closer look, Tom joined me.
‘ “I think this is our boy,” Tom said.’
The Shooter’s report from Esquire
In the account given to Esquire journalist Phil Bronstein the SEAL recalls that once he locked eyes on his target, he remembers being surprised at his appearance. Bin Laden was much taller than he expected him to be – taller than any of their guys, and skinny with a short beard and shaved head.
He was holding his wife Amal in front of him as a shield and though The Shooter could see exactly what was going on through night vision goggles, bin Laden was in total darkness and could hear but not see.
‘I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. 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].
‘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.
‘That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
‘And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy sh**.
‘His forehead was gruesome. It was split open in the shape of a V. I could see his brains spilling out over his face.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2300024/Osama-Bin-Laden-death-Third-Navy-SEAL-raid-unit-comes-forward-tell-story-terror-chiefs-death.html#ixzz2OzTPuXFS
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