Robert O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL, spoke with the Washington Post and revealed he was the shooter who killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
O’Neill, 38, was a 15 year veteran with the SEALs and was involved in various other missions before, said he thought this mission would be his most difficult up to that point.
When he and other SEALs stormed the compound holding bin Laden, O’Neill says he was near the front of the column and thought he would be killed.
Upon entering the room holding bin Laden, O’Neill says bin Laden “had his hands on a woman’s shoulders pushing her ahead,” in the hopes of deflecting the attackers. O’Neill then says he shot bin Laden in the head twice before other members of the SEAL team shot bin Laden’s already dead body.
Leading up to O’Neill’s decision to disclose this information, he says he was struggling with whether or not to go public with his identity. He says there was already a network of people who knew his identity, including various members of congress and at least two news organizations.
Colleagues have voiced their displeasure with his decision, and B.L. Losey, the Naval Special Warfare commanding officer, and M.L. Magaraci, the force’s master chief, wrote a letter saying one tenet of their profession is to “not advertise the nature of [their] work nor seek recognition for [their] actions.”
However, after speaking with the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, O’Neill said he decided to come forward. “The families told me it helped bring them some closure,” said O’Neill.
This was not his first high profile mission, O’Neill said. He also disclosed he was part of the rescue effort of Capt. Richard Phillips in 2009 after his vessel was taken captive by Somali pirates.