WASHINGTON — A Navy SEAL’s firsthand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden pulls back the veil on the secret operations conducted almost nightly by elite American forces against terrorist suspects.
Former SEAL Matt Bissonnette’s account contradicted in key details the account of the raid presented by administration officials in the days after the May 2011 raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan, that killed the al-Qaida leader, and raised questions about whether the SEALs followed to the letter the order to only use deadly force if they deemed him a threat.
Bissonnette wrote that the SEALs spotted bin Laden at the top of a darkened hallway and shot him in the head even though they could not tell whether he was armed. Administration officials have described the SEALs shooting bin Laden only after he ducked back into a bedroom because they assumed he might be reaching for a weapon.
Military experts said yesterday that if Bissonnette’s recollection is accurate, the SEALS made the right call to open fire on the terrorist mastermind who had plenty of time to reach for a weapon or explosives as they made their way up to the third level of the house where he hid.
Bissonnette wrote the book, “No Easy Day,” under the pseudonym Mark Owen as one of the men in the room when they killed bin Laden. The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint. The Associated Press purchased a copy Tuesday.
For years, the primary weapon in the war on terror has been unmanned drones firing missiles from the sky. But the Bissonnette book reveals a more bloody war waged by special operators, one the public almost never gets to see close up.
The book offers intimate details of a special operations mission. The most memorable scenes are also the most human moments. Bissonnette describes one of the SEALs dressing the wounds of a woman who was shot when she lunged toward the SEALs. In another scene, a terrified mother clutches her child and a young girl identifies the dead man as Osama bin Laden, seemingly unaware of the significance of those words.