Ex-SEAL’s new book details Osama bin Laden’s devastating ‘headshot’

In his new book titled, “The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Bin Laden”, a former Navy SEAL Team 6 shooter lays out in detail the night Osama bin Laden met his maker.

Robert O’Neill, who is steadfast in his claim that he alone pumped two bullets into Osama bin Laden, writes, “Bin Laden’s head split open, and he dropped. I put another bullet in his head. Insurance.”

In O’Neill’s version of events leading up the bin Laden’s assassination, he was trailing five or six other SEALs climbing the stairs to the compound’s second floor when bin Laden’s son Khalid appeared on the half-landing with an AK-47.

Knowing bin Laden was not only surrounded by security, but also followers and family, analysts briefed the team before the insertion.

A CIA analyst told SEAL members before the mission, “If you find Khalid, Osama’s on the next floor.”

Analysts also provided the team with Arabic and Urdu phrases the team would need to coax Khalid.

As the Khalid cowered behind a bannister, a team member said, “Khalid, come here.”

Bin Laden’s perplexed son poked his head out and shouted “What?”

He was shot in the face.

Once past Khalid, Oneill’s point man kept his weapon trained on the third floor, at one point taking a shot at a figure briefly appearing behind a curtain to the entryway.

O’Neill kept his hand on the point man’s shoulder. The two were alone on the stairway, convinced that whoever was on the third floor was strapping on a suicide vest for an explosive last stand.

The point man quietly said to O’Neill, “Hey, we got to go, we got to go.”

O’Neill recounts the single thought that instantly filled his head writing: “I’m f—–g done with waiting for it to happen.” He squeezed the point man’s shoulder, the signal to charge — then rushed past the curtain into the unknown.

The point man tackled two screaming women to the floor. If they were wearing suicide vests, his body would have absorbed the blast — giving O’Neill his shot.
Bin Laden stood near the bed, his hands on the shoulders of the woman in front of him. She was later identified as Amal, the youngest of bin Laden’s four wives.

According to O’Neill account, she was the figure behind the curtain. It turned out that she took the point man’s bullet to the calf while acting as a human shield for her husband.

Now it was O’Neill’s turn.

“In less than a second, I aimed above the woman’s right shoulder and pulled the trigger twice.”

After collecting computers and intelligence and bin Laden’s remains, SEAL Team 6 boarded the chopper for a harrowing 90-minute flight back to Afghanistan. Bin Laden’s shattered head was pressed back together so he could be accurately identified.

Back in Afghanistan, and with bin Laden’s corpse laid out in an open body bag. The point man and O’Neill walked the CIA analyst over to identify the body.

“Stone-cold, stone-faced, she said, ‘Uh, I guess I’m out of a f—–g job,’” he recalled. “Then she walked away.”

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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