The American marines who were assigned the job of capturing Osama bin Laden alive if possible killed the world's most dreaded terrorist before they even had his identity confirmed, says a new book. Incidentally, No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden contradicts the White House version of events on May 2, 2011.
According to the author Matt Bissonnette, he and the other US Navy SEALs were not fired upon when they approached bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan. The al-Qaeda leader was also not armed as US President Barack Obama's aides had claimed.
In the book, Bissonnette describes how SEAL Team 6 prepared for their biggest challenge. The team members planned to drop down from a hovering Black Hawk chopper onto the roof of the Abbottabad mansion wherein bin Laden was believed to be occupying a bedroom on the third floor. The idea was to take him and his guards by surprise.
In order to fine-tune their strategy, the SEALs conducted several rehearsals on a specially-created replica of the mansion. During the actual mission, the SEALs however failed to locate bin Laden for nearly 15 minutes after landing in the Abbottabad compound.
Bissonnette mentions his apprehension that bin Laden could have worn a suicide vest by that time. Anyway the SEALs carefully went up the stairs to the third floor.
"We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots. Bop. Bop. The point man had seen a man peeking out of the door on the right side of the hallway about 10 feet in front of him. I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room ...," Bissonnette recounts.
"Unlike in the movies, we didn't bound up the final few steps and rush into the room with guns blazing. We took our time ... Instead, we waited at the threshold and peered inside. We could see two women standing over a man lying at the foot of a bed ... the women were hysterically crying and wailing in Arabic." Though one of the women lunged at the "point man", the SEAL pushed her aside.
Then Bissonnette "saw the man lying on the floor at the foot of his bed. He was wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt, loose tan pants, and a tan tunic. The point man's shots had entered the side of his skull. Blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull. In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless."
At this point, the SEALs did not know whether it was indeed bin Laden whom they had killed. "The man's face was mangled from at least one bullet and covered in blood. His chest was torn up. I started to wipe blood away from his face using a blanket from the bed. With each swipe, the face became more familiar. It was strange to see such an infamous face up close. Lying in front of me was the reason we had been fighting for the last decade," Bissonnette wrote under the pseudonym Mark Owen.
While combing the room, he found an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in a holster. "I took each weapon down and pulled out the magazine and checked the chambers. They were both empty. He hadn't even prepared a defence. He had no intention of fighting," the 36-year-old author says about bin Laden.
Since both the women in the room refused to identify the deceased, one of the SEALs asked a girl standing outside on the balcony. She replied that it was Osama bin Laden. It was then that the commander of the SEALs informed Admiral William McRaven: "For God and country. I pass Geronimo. . . . Geronimo EKIA." ("Geronimo" was the designated code for bin Laden. "EKIA" means 'enemy killed in action'.)