The full extraordinary story of theÂ assassination of Osama Bin Laden has been revealed for the first time by aÂ member of the elite team that killed the arch terrorist in his secret lair inÂ Pakistan.
Bin Laden was shot in the head by a ‘pointÂ man’ from the crack US Navy Seals unit as the Al Qaeda leader peered out throughÂ his narrowly-opened bedroom door.
Bursting into his room, the Seals then firedÂ more rounds into his body as he lay on the floor in his death throes and as twoÂ of his wives wailed beside him.
The gruesome last moments of the 9/11Â mastermind are revealed in a book by retired Seal Matt Bissonnette who took partÂ in the raid and made sure Bin Laden was dead.
But the minute-by-minute account ofÂ theÂ heart-stopping, top-secret raid has infuriated Pentagon lawyers whoÂ areÂ demanding that its launch next week is cancelled.
Bissonnette, 36 — who uses theÂ pen-nameÂ Mark Owen — is accused of breaching aÂ secrecy commitment that he signed when heÂ left active duty last April.Â And it has incensed Islamic fundamentalists, whoÂ have posted onlineÂ death threats against the author.
Owen’s detailed account in his book, No EasyÂ Day, tells how, on a moonlessÂ night on May 1, 2011, 24 US Navy Seals left theirÂ baseÂ in Jalalabad,Â Afghanistan, for Bin Laden’s one-acre walled compoundÂ in Abbottabad.
The Seals, who were to operate in teams ofÂ three, travelled in two Black Hawk helicopters.
They knew that, as well as theÂ terrorÂ chief, they could expect to find atÂ the compound Khalid, oneÂ of BinÂ Laden’s sons, and AhmedÂ al-Kuwaiti and his brother AbrarÂ al-Kuwaiti,Â who had acted as couriers for Bin Laden.
Owen tells how the mission soon hitÂ difficulties when the plan to ‘fast-rope’ the Seals from one of the helicoptersÂ into the compound hadÂ to be rapidly revised when one of the Black Hawks — withÂ Owen inside — crash landed inside the courtyard.
The other Black Hawk, which was supposed toÂ fast-rope its passengers onÂ to the roof of the main building in the compound,Â dropped them outsideÂ after seeing the crash. They were let inside by theirÂ shaken butÂ uninjured comrades.
Owen says his team headed towards aÂ guesthouse in the compound whereÂ they knew AhmedÂ al-Kuwaiti lived withÂ his family. They also knew thatÂ the occupants had heard them coming.
The guesthouse was in darkness and had a setÂ of metal double doors with windows at the top.
Owen describes kneeling at the side of theÂ door while he attached anÂ explosive charge. As one of his team headed towardsÂ the stairs that ledÂ to the roof of the guesthouse, AK-47 rounds from insideÂ shattered theÂ glass above the door, narrowly missing him and showering him inÂ glass.
‘The first rounds always surprise the s***Â out of you,’ he writes. Will, another member of Owen’s team, yelled in ArabicÂ for al-Kuwaiti to comeÂ out while Owen returned fire. The door started to openÂ and a womanÂ called out.
Owen says that in the green glow of theirÂ night-vision goggles, theÂ Seals could make out the figure of a woman clutchingÂ something in herÂ arms. The first suspicion was that it was a bomb.
Owen recalls in his account how he startedÂ applying pressure to hisÂ trigger. Lasers on the Seals’ guns targeted theÂ woman’s head — she could be dead in a second.
However the bundle was a baby. Al-Kuwaiti’sÂ wife, Mariam, emerged withÂ the infant and three more children behind her. OwenÂ kept his weaponÂ trained on her as she told them that Al-Kuwaiti wasÂ dead.
Owen says he spotted a pair ofÂ feetÂ lying in the doorway of a bedroomÂ and that he shot the body of al-KuwaitiÂ several times to make sure. With the guesthouse secured, the Seals sprinted toÂ the main compound. BinÂ Laden’s house was split into a duplex and his familyÂ lived on the second and third levels and had their own privateÂ entrance.
A team led by a Seal referred to in the bookÂ as Tom was to clear theÂ first level, according to Owen. Again, the building wasÂ dark but theÂ soldiers’ night-vision goggles revealed a long hallway with twoÂ doorsÂ opening off on each side.
The point man — the leading Seal — spotted aÂ man’s head sticking out ofÂ the first room on the left. The point man shot himÂ and he disappearedÂ back into the room. When the team reached the doorway theÂ man, laterÂ identified as Abrar al-Kuwaiti, was writhing on the floor. The SealsÂ opened fire on him. Al-Kuwaiti’s wife Bushra, who jumped in the way toÂ shieldÂ him, was also killed.
Owen says a woman and several children wereÂ huddled in the cornerÂ crying. An AK-47 was found in the room and Tom unloadedÂ it whileÂ theÂ rest of the team searched the remaining rooms.
After one of the US troops blew up an ironÂ gate blocking access to theÂ second level, the Seals started filtering up aÂ spiral staircaseÂ punctuated by small landings. When Owen reached the secondÂ level, heÂ could see a body splayed out on its back on the landing above,Â betweenÂ the second and third levels. One of the Seals had shot Khalid, one ofÂ Bin Laden’s sons, who had probably been living on the second floor.
By now, Owen writes, Seals were queuing upÂ behind Owen on the staircase, and the second-level hallway already hadÂ sufficient troops to searchÂ and clear it, so he continued to the third level,Â up steps slick withÂ blood and passing Khalid’s unused AK-47 propped up on aÂ step.
‘We had planned for more of a fight,’ heÂ writes. ‘For all the talk about suicide vests and being willing to shed bloodÂ for Allah, only one ofÂ the al-Kuwaiti brothers got off a barrage.’
He describes how, as he and his team slowlyÂ ascended the narrowÂ stairwell, his ears strained to hear footsteps or the soundÂ of a roundÂ being chambered. He was less than five steps from the top of theÂ staircase when he heard shots.
He writes: ‘BOP. BOP. The point man had seenÂ a man peeking out of theÂ door on the right side of the hallway about ten feetÂ in front of him. IÂ couldn’t tell from my position if the rounds hit the targetÂ or not. TheÂ man disappeared into the dark room.’
They cautiously approached the room whereÂ they found two women,Â hysterically crying and standing over a man lying at theÂ foot of a bed.Â The younger of the two women rushed at the point man who grabbedÂ themÂ both and herded them into a corner. Owen comments that had the womenÂ beenÂ wearing suicide vests, this action would have cost the soldier hisÂ life butÂ saved those of his colleagues.
According to No Easy Day, the fallen man,Â wearing a white sleevelessÂ T-shirt, tan trousers and a tan tunic, had been shotÂ in the right sideÂ of his head.
‘Blood and brains spilled out of the side ofÂ his skull,’ writes Owen. ‘In his death throes, he was still twitching andÂ convulsing.’
Owen and another Seal shot more rounds intoÂ his chest until he was motionless.
At least three children sat stunned in theÂ corner of the room as theÂ commandos cleared two small rooms just off theÂ bedrooms. Other SealÂ teams cleared the rest of the third level until it wasÂ declared secure.
Owen and his comrades then examined the body.
He says: ‘The man’s face was mangled from atÂ least one bullet wound andÂ covered in blood. A hole inÂ his foreheadÂ collapsed the right side ofÂ his skull. His chest was torn up from where theÂ bullets had entered hisÂ body.
He was lying in an ever-growing pool ofÂ blood. As I crouched down to take a closer look, Tom joined me.
‘â€‰“I think this is our boy,” TomÂ said.’
Owen writes that Tom did not want to reportÂ over the radio that this was Bin Laden because he knew that call would beÂ rapidly relayed toÂ Washington where President Obama was listening. The SealsÂ wanted to beÂ sure first.
The dead man was the correct height andÂ looked like the composite photos the Seals had been given. They wiped the bloodÂ from his face using aÂ blanket from the bed and he looked more familiar butÂ younger thanÂ expected. It transpired his beard had been dyed.
Owen says he took photos of Bin Laden’s fullÂ body and then his head.Â ‘Pulling his beard to the right and then the left,Â I shot severalÂ profile pictures.’
He asked his colleague to hold Bin Laden’s ‘good eye’ open. ‘He reachedÂ down and peeled back the eyelid, exposing his nowÂ lifeless brownÂ eye. I zoomed in and shot a tight photo of it.’
Meanwhile other Seals were collectingÂ computers, videos and notebooksÂ and a team was preparing to blow up the crashedÂ Black Hawk.
The remaining Black Hawk and a CH-47 ChinookÂ helicopter, that had set up a forward refuelling point 15 minutes from theÂ compound, and wasÂ carrying a ‘quick reaction force’ of additional troops, wereÂ circlingÂ the compound, using up precious fuel. Time was pressing.
Owen says a comrade, ‘Walt’, took DNA samplesÂ by dipping a swab in Bin Laden’s blood and used another to swab hisÂ mouth.
He tried jabbing a spring-loaded syringeÂ provided by the CIA toÂ get aÂ marrow sample from BinÂ Laden’s thighÂ but the needle didÂ not work andÂ he gave up afterÂ severalÂ attempts.
Owen says two sets of DNAÂ samples andÂ two sets of photographs wereÂ needed so that if one of the helicopters was shotÂ down on its way backÂ to Jalalabad, one set of evidence would survive.
Meanwhile, Seals were trying to getÂ confirmation from Bin Laden’s wife,Â who had been wounded in the ankle, that theÂ dead man was the Al QaedaÂ leader. She gave a series of aliases for himÂ such as ‘the sheikh’.
Owen recalls how one Seal then approached theÂ children outside on theÂ balcony. ‘They were all sitting silently against theÂ wall. Will kneltÂ down and asked one of the girls, “Who is the man?”
‘The girl didn’t know to lie.’
‘â€‰“Osama bin Laden.”
‘â€‰“Are you sure that is Osama binÂ Laden?”
‘â€‰“Yes,” the girl said.
‘â€‰“OK,” he said. “Thanks.”
‘Back in the hallway, he grabbed one of theÂ wives by her arms and gave her a good shake.
‘â€‰“Stop f****** with me now,” Will said, moreÂ sternly than before. “Who is that in the bedroom?”â€‰’
Owen continues: ‘She started to cry. MoreÂ scared than anything else, she didn’t have any fight left.’
‘â€‰“Osama,” she said.
‘“Osama what?” Will said, still holding herÂ arm.’
‘â€‰“Osama bin Laden,” she said.’
With dual confirmation, the Seals ‘called itÂ in’ to Admiral McRaven in Jalalabad, who was keeping President ObamaÂ updated.
While the soldiers cleared the building ofÂ material that would provideÂ useful intelligence, Owen watched two Seals dragÂ Bin Laden’s body by his legs down the stairs.
Searching the tiny bathroom, Owen found a boxÂ of Just For Men hair dye, which he assumed was what Bin Laden used on his beard.
Owen records that he was surprised by howÂ tidily Bin Laden kept hisÂ clothes. All of his T-shirts were neatly folded intoÂ squares and hisÂ clothes were hung evenly spaced.
He discovered a rifle and a pistol, neitherÂ of them loaded.
Owen writes about his surprise that Bin Laden ‘hadn’t even prepared aÂ defence’. He says the terror leader had no intention ofÂ fighting, though he asked his followers for decades to wear suicide vests or flyÂ planesÂ into buildings.
He says: ‘In all of my deployments, weÂ routinely saw this phenomenon.Â The higher up the food chain the targetedÂ individual was, the bigger aÂ pussy he was.’
He says leaders are less willing to fight andÂ that it was always theÂ young and impressionable who strapped on the explosivesÂ and blewÂ themselves up.
He writes: ‘Did he [Bin Laden]Â believeÂ his own message? Was he willingÂ to fight the war he asked for? I don’t thinkÂ so. Otherwise, he wouldÂ have at least gotten his gun and stood up for what heÂ believed.
‘There is no honour in sending people to dieÂ for something you won’t even fight for yourself.’
The Seals had now been in the compound for 30Â minutes and were reluctant to leave areas unsearched but had noÂ choice.
Owen says Bin Laden’s body was put into aÂ body bag. As many of the women and children as possible were herded into theÂ guesthouse to protectÂ them from the explosion when the Seals blew up theÂ crashed helicopter.
Owen’s group of Seals, which had Bin Laden’sÂ body, travelled on theÂ remaining Black Hawk which, as a smaller, moreÂ manoeuvrable aircraft,Â had less of a chance of being shot down than theÂ CH-47.
In the Black Hawk, one of the Seals had toÂ sit on Bin Laden’s body which lay at Owen’s feet in the centre of the cabin.
At one point during the flightÂ toÂ Afghanistan, he says, they searchedÂ the body again but found nothing and theÂ Seal returned to his seat onÂ BinÂ Laden’s chest.
Despite having the body at his feet, OwenÂ writes that he felt a sense of failure that the teams had left intelligenceÂ behind because they hadÂ run out of time.
Back at base in Jalalabad, the Seals loadedÂ the body on to the back of a truck. It was to be transported toÂ Bagram.
Admiral McRaven asked to see it. Owen says heÂ pulled the body bag from the truck.
‘It flopped on the cement floor like a deadÂ fish. Kneeling down,Â IÂ unzipped the bag. Almost allÂ of the colourÂ had faded from his face andÂ his skin looked ashyÂ and grey. The body wasÂ mushy and congealed bloodÂ had pooled at the bottom of the bag.
‘There’s your boy,’ I said.
Source: The Daily Mail