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Seals unhappy at bin Laden killing revelations

Some special operations service members and veterans are unhappy that one of their own has taken credit publicly for killing Osama bin Laden.

Others say they have gotten used to the idea that their brethren might break the code of silence and seek to profit from their deeds.

That internal debate gained intensity this week when retired Navy SEAL Robert O'Neill acknowledged that he had fired two rounds into the forehead of the al-Qaida leader during the 2011 raid on his secret compound in Pakistan.

O'Neill says more and more people were becoming aware of his role and that his name was going to become public anyway.

He recounted his version of the bin Laden raid in February 2013 to Esquire magazine, which identified him only as "the shooter".

The Washington Post subsequently identified him by name as he described shooting the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks.


One current and one former SEAL confirmed that O'Neill was long known to have killed bin Laden.

Defense Department officials confirmed he was a member of SEAL Team Six and was part of the raid, but said they could not confirm who fired the fatal shot, noting that other SEALs on the mission also fired at bin Laden.

O'Neill said that shots were also fired by two other SEAL team members, including Matt Bissonnette, who described the raid somewhat differently in his book No Easy Day.

His lawyer said Bissonnette is under federal investigation over whether he disclosed classified information in the book, which he did not vet with the military.

In the Esquire piece, O'Neill makes no mention of Bissonnette shooting bin Laden.

Instead, O'Neill said he was one of two SEALs who went up to the third floor of the building where bin Laden was hiding. The first man fired two shots at the terrorist leader as he peeked out of the bedroom, but O'Neill says those shots missed.

The man then tackled two women in the hallway outside of bin Laden's bedroom.

O'Neill went into the bedroom, he recounts.

"There was bin Laden standing there. He had his hands on a woman's shoulders, pushing her ahead, not exactly toward me but by me, in the direction of the hallway. It was his youngest wife, Amal."

O'Neill added: "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. He was dead."