Though al-Qaeda’s notorious ex-boss has been dead for nearly two years now, it appears the tale of the daring raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which he was killed, will never die.
More details emerged about the Obama administration’s riskiest counterterrorism venture when the shooter of bin Laden, a member of Navy SEAL Team Six, bared all this week to Esquire Magazine, including a blow-by-blow account of the moments leading up to the 54-year-old jihadist’s death.
Retracing the steps as the SEALs entered bin Laden’s room in his large Abbottabad compound in the early hours of May 2, 2011, the unnamed shooter said to the magazine: “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, Bap! Same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.”
As the SEAL watched bin Laden breathe die, he asked himself, “Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy [expletive].”
While the candid and unprecedented account of the raid was the highlight of the Esquire scoop, the SEAL’s sharp criticism of the U.S. military for allegedly failing to support him in the aftermath of the incident raised eyebrows too.
In the article the SEAL said that when he decided to take early retirement three years early on account of feeling burned out before “my healthcare for me and my family stopped. … I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years.”
Responding to questions from MSNBC, the Navy was quoted as saying that it could not corroborate the SEAL’s account of events and his post-retirement treatment.
“We take seriously the safety and security of our people as well as our responsibility to assist sailors making the transition to civilian life. Without more information about this particular case it would be difficult to determine the degree to which our transition programme succeeded.”
The SEAL also blamed the Navy for not providing him and his family with adequate protection from reprisals after the raid. Although he hoped for “some courtesy eyes-on checks... to put in a heavier, metal-reinforced front door... install some sensors or something. But there was literally nothing”.