Osama Bin Laden was shot after he made the mistake of sticking his head into a hallway full of heavily-armed US Navy Seals, according to a dramatic account of the killing televised at the weekend.
Matt Bissonnette, who was at the scene, says the al-Qa’ida leader was hit in the head after he peered around the door of his bedroom. After he fell backwards, two members of the Special Forces team ran into the room and fired several shots into his still-moving body.
The first-hand account, aired by CBS last night, is partially different from the official version of events circulated by the Pentagon. Until now, the US has claimed that Bin Laden was shot only after ducking back into the room, prompting fears that he was fetching a weapon.
Bissonnette’s version of events is the subject of book called “No Easy Day,” which was controversially published last week. It tells how the world’s most wanted man failed to go down with a fight, although several weapons were found in the room where he died.
It will, however, raise questions about the lengths the US went to in its efforts take him alive. Although Bissonnette claims the raid, on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was a “capture or kill” mission, critics have described it as an extra-judicial assassination.
“If a guy sticks his head around the corner he very easily could have a gun,“ said Bissonnette, who used the pseudonym Mark Owen and was disguised by heavy make up in the CBS interview. ”You don't wait to get that AK or the grenade thrown down the hall or the suicide vest.”
In another potentially-awkward revelation for US officials who say bin Laden's body was treated with dignity before being given a full Muslim burial at sea, the author has revealed that in the cramped helicopter flight home, a Seal named “Walt” was forced to sit on Bin Laden's chest.