It's been almost two years since Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in his Pakistan home by an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALS. One SEAL in particular -- who is known only as "The Shooter" -- interviewed with Esquire magazine. Details regarding his role in the terrorist leader's killing were revealed Feb. 11 from the magazine's website.
The Shooter, who joined the Navy when he was 19 after a girl broke his heart, had no idea how the end of his military career would wind up. The unidentified member of SEAL Team 6 spoke candidly about the final moments he witnessed of bin Laden after the killing.
When the small company of SEALS began their journey that would result in bin Laden's death, they took a helicopter ride from Jalalabad, Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Abbottabad. Once there, they made their way to the terrorist's third-floor bedroom.
The Shooter recalls his position as being "number two" behind the raid's point man. He entered bin Laden's room alone and that's when he came eye-to-eye with the tall, lean terrorist. The Shooter describes in detail how it all unfolded after bin Laden pushed his youngest wife, Amal, in front of him.
The SEAL who shot bin Laden said:
"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 sh**."
The Shooter was in a bad position as bin Laden's wife began screaming.
"His forehead was gruesome. It was split open in the shape of a V. I could see his brains spilling out over his face. The American public doesn't want to know what that looks like.
"Amal turned back, and she was screaming, first at bin Laden and then at me. She came at me like she wanted to fight me, or that she wanted to die instead of him. So I put her on the bed, bound with zip ties. Then I realized that bin Laden's youngest son, who is about two or three, was standing there on the other side of the bed. I didn't want to hurt him, because I'm not a savage. There was a lot of screaming, he was crying, just in shock. I didn't like that he was scared. He's a kid, and had nothing to do with this. I picked him up and put him next to his mother. I put some water on his face.
"The point man came in and zip-tied the other two women he'd grabbed.
"The third-floor action and killing took maybe fifteen seconds."
Since the whole incident, the SEAL has retired from the military forces. To say his life has been rosy couldn't be further from the truth. He shares that the entire team he was assigned with for the bin Laden killing mission has suffered psychological trauma and have gotten very little support since leaving the service. Aside from that, The Shooter and his wife have separated due to the overwhelming stress this has put on their marriage. Their lives will always be at risk.
There was even a time, he was offered a position in the witness program, but he didn't want to leave loved ones behind.
“They [SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee,” The Shooter said. “We’d lose everything.”
Civilian life was the biggest fear for this man who had encountered hundreds of deadly missions in his military career. His fears have proven true since the killing of Osama bin Laden. Once he retired from his time with the SEAL in September, he was told Tricare could not be transferred to Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The Shooter said it was like they told him, "'You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your sixteen years. Go f**k yourself.’”
Read more of the in-depth interview with The Shooter of Osama bin Laden at Esquire.