Washington, Nov 16: A former US Navy SEAL, who claims to have gunned Osama bin Laden, has said he is worried that the Pentagon may prosecute him for spilling the beans on the covert raid on the al-Qaeda chief's hideout in Pakistan.
"I think I did this in a way that doesn't violate any tactics or any rules," Robert O'Neill said of his coming out in public about the raid. Being prosecuted "does concern me, and if it comes up, I'll address it," he was quoted as saying by CNN.
O'Neill said the value of sharing the details of the mission for the families of the September 11, 2001, victims and military veterans killed in the ensuing wars makes that risk worthwhile. O'Neill said he realised the power of his story while speaking with a group that included about 20 families of victims of the September 11 attacks.
He said it was the first time he had really spoken about the mission, and that men and women cried and told him "it was closure for them." At that moment, O'Neill said, he realised the importance of sharing what he could -- and that he needed to find a way to do so "with respect for the tactics, for the safety of our troops and for the Department of Defense."
Responding to criticisms from former administration officials and current service members that he should not be talking publicly, O'Neill said, "I think it's important historically for this to get out there." O'Neill described many of the details of the mission -- and his preparation beforehand. He said he believed there was "about a 90 per cent chance that we weren't going to come back."
O'Neill said he called his family members beforehand
Among the possible threats, he listed Pakistan's military, unaware of the mission, could shoot the two helicopters down, bin Laden's house could be wired with explosives and others in the house could be wearing suicide vests.
"The house getting blown up, possibly getting shot down, suicide bombers, and then possibly running out of gas was a concern. The chances of us not coming back were a lot greater than the chances we were coming back," he said.
O'Neill said he called his family members beforehand -- not offering details on what he was doing, but knowing that they would soon find out no matter how the mission ended.
He also wrote letters to his young children, only to be delivered if he did not survive at a later date when, for instance, he was not there for their weddings. "I shot him twice in the head, he fell on the floor. I shot him one more time, and I killed him," O'Neill said of the moment he killed bin Laden.