The former Navy Seal claiming to be “the shooter” who killed Osama bin Laden has said the al-Qaeda leader “died afraid”.
Rob O’Neill, who was publicly named for the first time last week, said he does not care about people accusing him of lying about his role.
“I don't care if I'm 'The Shooter,' and there are people who think I'm not. So whatever,” he told CNN.
“Osama bin Laden died like a pu***…he died afraid, and he knew we were there to kill him. And that's closure.”
The 38-year-old’s account of the 2011 Seal Team Six raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, differs from that of other witnesses.
He says the point man tried to shoot the al-Qaeda leader but missed, so he killed the target himself with two close-range shots to the head, though that has been disputed by other Seals and military sources.
“I rolled past [the point man] into the room, just inside the doorway,” Mr O’Neill recalled. “There was bin Laden, standing there. He had his hands on a woman’s shoulders pushing her ahead…on that second I shot him, two times in the forehead.
“Bap! Bap! The second time, as he is going down. He crumbled to the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again.”
But fellow Seal Matt Bissonette, who was also on the mission, wrote in his book No Easy Day that the point man’s shot hit bin Laden in the head from the bottom of the stairs and he and a team-mate then shot him in the chest.
Anonymous military chiefs quoted by CNN also insisted that it was the unidentified “point man” who fired the fatal shot and that when Mr O’Neill and Mr Bissonette burst into the bedroom, they merely shot more bullets into the already mortally wounded al-Qaeda chief as he lay stricken.
Mr O’Neill’s exploits were central to Zero Dark Thirty, the 2012 dramatisation of the hunt for bin Laden.
“The most important thing that I've learned in the last two years is to me it doesn't matter anymore if I am 'The Shooter.' The team got him,” he said.
“Regardless of the negativity that comes with it, I don't give a f***. We got him.”
Mr O’Neill, who has since left the Navy and works as a motivational speaker, gave his first interview on the raid anonymously to Esquire magazine in 2013.
He did not reveal his name until it was linked to a story on a military blog last week without his consent.
The raid, on 2 May 2011, involved 23 Seals who launched the assault on the bin Laden compound as President Barack Obama and senior Government officials watched live camera feeds.
They shot and killed bin Laden's two bodyguards, one of his sons and the wife of one of the bodyguards. Two other women were also wounded.
Mr O’Neill told CNN the team thought they would die in the mission and talked about the September 11 terrorist attacks on the journey because it was the “whole reason” they were there.
His decision to go public has angered former servicemen and women, as well as members of the public who accuse him of attention seeking and breaking the Seal code of discretion.
In a letter to current and former Seals, the leaders of the US Naval Special Warfare Command wrote: “We do not abide wilful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain, which only diminishes otherwise honourable service, courage and sacrifice.”
Rear Admiral Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci added that Mr O’Neill could face legal action. “Classified information is protected by law,” they noted. “We will actively seek judicial consequence for members who wilfully violate the law, and place our team-mates, our families, and potential future operations at risk.”
But Mr O’Neill dismissed the criticism.
“Even now, I mean, there are guys now saying that I am full of s***,” he said. “You only know what you were told unless you were in the room. And unfortunately for me, there were two people in the room, and one of us is dead and that's Osama bin Laden.”Reuse content