Former special-operations officials accused Robert O’Neill, the one-time U.S. Navy SEAL who claimed to have shot dead Osama bin Laden, of misstating facts, and they criticized him for taking sole credit in the killing of the world’s then-most wanted man, the Daily Beast reported. The accusations came as O’Neill’s claim contradicted the description of the operation in a book by Matt Bissonnette, an ex-member of SEAL Team Six who took part in the raid against bin Laden.
While O’Neill claimed he fired two shots at bin Laden’s head at the al Qaeda leader’s compound in Pakistan’s Abbottabad, the SEAL’s former colleagues -- one of whom was within feet of O’Neill during the operation -- denied his claim. They said it was a still-unidentified man who fired the shot that killed bin Laden, who founded the group responsible for the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001, the Daily Beast reported.
One of the former special-ops officials also said O’Neill did not identify himself as the shooter at the “hot wash” debriefing after the attack conducted by senior officials. O’Neill later claimed to be bin Laden’s shooter to members of the public while drinking at some bars frequented by SEALs in Virginia Beach, Va., after he returned from his tour of duty. O’Neill’s claim led to his superiors to counsel him over discussing a classified operation, the Daily Beast reported.
O’Neill said in at least two separate interviews -- one published by the Washington Post Thursday and another published by Esquire in 2013 -- that the operation’s “point man” fired at bin Laden when the al Qaeda leader peeked through his bedroom door, but missed. O’Neill said he then fired, killing bin Laden. After the appearance of the Esquire article, Peter Bergen, a chronicler of bin Laden who was able to tour his compound after the raid, interviewed an unidentified SEAL Team Six member who said the account was “complete BS,” the Daily Beast reported.
Bissonnette, who is currently facing a criminal investigation for revealing classified information about the bin Laden raid in his book “No Easy Day,” said the point man who had first gone inside hit bin Laden when he shot. “Two different people telling two different stories for two different reasons,” Bissonnette, who wrote his book under the pseudonym of Mark Owen, said in an interview with NBC News, adding: “Whatever he [O’Neill] says, he says. I don’t want to touch that.”
Fox News is scheduled to show a documentary based on O’Neill’s version of the bin Laden operation Tuesday. It will reportedly discuss the different versions of the story. “We asked Rob O’Neill why his version of the story was a little bit different than what we’d heard before, and he does explain that in the special,” said Peter Doocy, the Fox News reporter who interviewed O’Neill for the documentary.