Robert O'Neill has revealed that he is the Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden with a bullet to the forehead in a nighttime raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011. The 38-year-old decorated war veteran told the Washington Post that he had weighed the decision of whether to out himself as the shooter for months before coming to his decision.
The Montana native and veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had planned to go public about his part in the raid next week via interviews in the Post and on Fox News. But when SOFREP, a website dedicated to military and special-ops news, identified O'Neill as the shooter on Tuesday, he decided to move the reveal forward.
O'Neill also confirmed to the Post that two other SEAL members fired shots during the raid, including Matt Bissonnette, who is under investigation after penning the book "No Easy Day" about the Bin Laden raid. O'Neill said he made the decision to publicize his part in the raid because it was soon going to be revealed elsewhere, as he told the Post that members of Congress and two news outlets knew he was the shooter. "The Shooter" was the name of a famous March 2014 Esquire article about the raid, a story based largely on interviews with O'Neill, who was referred to only as "the shooter" in the piece.
SOFREP, which is run by former SEAL team members, identified O'Neill as the shooter who fired the kill shot in what has been described as the most expensive and expansive manhunt in human history ahead of his timeline in a protest against his decision to go public, the Post reported.
O'Neill's and Bissonnette's decisions to go public with details about the raid that led to the death of bin Laden, the founder of the al Qaeda terrorist organization, have found themselves at the center of a firestorm of controversy in military circles.
Navy SEALs are supposed to keep quiet about their work, abiding by the credo, “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.”
SEAL team members are "quiet professionals" who are given "little individual credit” because of the "nature of our profession," according to a letter posted by Naval Special Warfare Command on SOFREP.