Textbook Page 83 Assignment
The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed
It was a mild spring day, April 2012, the Shooter sat with his friends and family, nervous about his uncertain future, his plans to leave the Navy and SEAL Team 6. The Shooter told his story about joining the Navy at nineteen, after a girl broke his heart. To escape, he almost by accident found himself in a Navy recruiter’s office. “He asked me what I was going to do with my life. I told him I wanted to be a sniper.
“That’s the reason Al Qaeda has been decimated,” he joked, “because she broke my fucking heart.”
Bin Laden was, after all, the man CIA director Leon Panetta called “the most infamous terrorist in our time,” and the number-one celebrity of evil.
ST6 in particular is an enterprise requiring extraordinary teamwork, combined with more kinds of support in the field than any other unit in the history of the U.S. military.
Telling the story to others
Unlike former SEAL Team 6 member Matt Bissonnette (No Easy Day), they do not rush to write books or step forward publicly, because that violates the code of the “quiet professional.” It’s a simple truth that those who have been most exposed to harrowing danger for the longest time during our recent unending wars now find themselves adrift in civilian life, trying desperately to adjust, often scrambling just to make ends meet.
Secrecy is a thick blanket over our Special Forces that inelegantly covers them, technically forever. The twenty-three SEALs who flew into Pakistan that night were directed by their command the day they got back stateside about acting and speaking as though it had never happened.
“I’m not religious, but I always felt I was put on the earth to do something specific. After that mission, I knew what it was.”
. The bin Laden shooting was a staple of presidential-campaign brags. One big-budget movie, several books, and a whole drawerful of documentaries and TV films have fortified the brave images of the Shooter and his ST6 Red Squadron members.
When the White House identified SEAL Team 6 as those responsible, camera crews swarmed into their Virginia Beach neighborhood, taking shots of the SEALs’ homes. The Shooter’s family asked about any kind of government protection should the Shooter’s name come out, they were advised that they could go into a witness-protection-like program. Just as soon as the Department of Defense creates one.
APRIL 2011: THE MISSION
The reason we knew this was a special mission, the Shooter said as our interviews about the bin Laden operation began, is because we’d just finished an Afghanistan deployment and were on a training trip, diving in Miami, when a few of us got recalled to the Command in Virginia Beach. Another ST6 team was on official standby — normally that’s the team that blows out for a contingency operation. But they were not chosen, to better cloak what was going to happen.
There was so much going on — the Libya thing, the Arab Spring. We knew something good was going to go down. We didn’t know how good.
The first day’s briefing, they actually kind of lied to us, being very vague. Every question the Red Squadron ST6 members asked was answered with, “Well, we can’t tell you that.” Or: “We don’t know.”
The Shooter was a mission team leader. Almost everyone chosen had a one or two ranking in the squadron, the most experienced guys. The group was split into four tactical teams, with the Shooter as leader of the external-security group — the dog, Cairo, two snipers, and a CIA interpreter to keep whoever might show up in the area out of the internal action.
The SEAL commander said to the group, “Okay, we’re as close as we’ve ever been to UBL.” And that was it. He kind of looked at us and we looked at him and nodded. There was none of that cheering bullshit. We were thinking, Yeah, okay, good. It’s about time that we kill this motherfucker. It was simple.
By then, government and military officials had been considering four options.
1. They were either going to bomb the piss out of the compound with two-thousand-pound ordnance
2. They were going to send us in
3. Do some kind of joint thing with the Pakis
4. Try what was called a “hammer throw,” where a drone flies by and chucks one fucking bomb at the guy. But they didn’t want any collateral damage. And they wanted to make sure he was dead and not in a cave or a safe room.
Still Unsure What the Mission Was
“Three of us were driving to our first briefing on the mission,” he said. “We were thinking maybe it was Libya, but we knew there would be very high-level brass there. One of my guys says, ‘I bet it’s bin Laden.’” Another guy told the Shooter, “If it’s Osama bin Laden, dude, I will suck yo’ dick.”
Preparation for the Mission
Throughout the training they kept asking us if we were ready. We told them, “Yeah, absolutely. This is going to be easy.”
This was ultimately an assault mission like hundreds he’d been on, different in only one respect.
At Jalalabad, the Shooter saw the CIA analyst pacing. She asked me why I was so calm. I told her, We do this every night. We go to a house, we fuck with some people, and we leave. This is just a longer flight. She looked at me and said, “One hundred percent he’s on the third floor. So get to there if you can.” She was probably 90 percent sure, and her emotion pushed that to 100.
It’s about leaving blood on the ground. We were the Red Team and we were going to leave some blood.
The Red Team and members of the other squad hugged one another instead of the usual handshakes before they boarded their separate aircraft. The hangars had huge stadium lights pointing outward so no one from the outside could see what was going on.
I remember banking to the south, which meant we were getting ready to hit. We had about another fifteen minutes. Instead of counting, for some reason I said to myself the George Bush 9/11 quote:
Let the mission begin
The pilot put our five perimeter guys out, went up, and went right back down outside the compound, so we knew something was wrong. We weren’t sure what the fuck it was.
We opened the doors, and I looked out. The area looked different than where we trained because we’re in Pakistan now.
I was carrying a big-ass sledgehammer to blow through a wall if we had to. There was a gate on the northeast corner and we went right to that. We put a breaching charge on it, clacked it, and the door peeled like a tin can. But it was a fake gate with a wall behind it. That was good, because we knew that someone was defending themselves. There’s something good here.
While we were in the carport, I heard gunfire from two different places nearby. In one flurry, a SEAL shot Abrar al-Kuwaiti, the brother of bin Laden’s courier, and his wife, Bushra. One of our guys involved told me,
“Jesus, these women are jumping in front of these guys. They’re trying to martyr themselves. Another sign that this is a serious place. Even if bin Laden isn’t here, someone important is.”
The shot that ended it all
I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].
In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy shit.
Everybody wanted him dead, but nobody wanted to say, Hey, you’re going to kill this guy. It was just sort of understood that’s what we wanted to do.
Who did kill Osama bin Laden?
“We all did it.”
The SEALs wanted to say who killed him but held back that information. The potential for public fame was too great.
Osama bin Laden was their prophet, basically. Now we killed him and I have to worry about this forever. Al Qaeda, especially these days, is 99 percent talk. But that 1 percent of the time they do shit, it’s bad. They’re capable of horrific things.
May 1, 2012, the first anniversary of the bin Laden mission. The Shooter is getting ready to go play with his kids at a water park. He’s watching CNN.
Do you remember where you were when you found out Osama bin Laden was dead?
And I was thinking:
Of course I remember. I was in his bedroom looking down at his body.”
(Erin’s extra comments: because this story originally had so many details and viewpoints, it would have been much more effective to have it as a video. My reasoning is people do not like to read a great deal when on the internet and will get distracted easily so they won’t even take the time to find the real message. I took out a great deal of info because the article was too lengthy and left information that I felt followed along an important theme I wanted my potential audience to get from the reading.)