Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Book Clashes with Official Account on Bin Laden ; U.S. Commando's Version Challenges Whether Qaeda Leader Was Threat

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Book Clashes with Official Account on Bin Laden ; U.S. Commando's Version Challenges Whether Qaeda Leader Was Threat

Article excerpt

A firsthand account raises the question of whether Osama bin Laden presented a clear threat when Navy Seals first fired upon him.

A new firsthand account of the U.S. Navy Seals raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year contradicts the Obama administration's previous descriptions of the mission, raising questions about whether the leader of Al Qaeda posed a clear threat to the commandos who fired on him.

According to the account in the book, "No Easy Day," which will go on sale next week under the pseudonym Mark Owen, Bin Laden was shot in the head when he peered out of his bedroom door into a top- floor hallway of his compound as the Seals rushed up a narrow stairwell toward him.

The author, whom military officials have identified as Matt Bissonnette, 36, said he was directly behind the "point man," or lead commando, as the Seals followed Bin Laden into the bedroom, where they found him collapsed on the floor at the foot of his bed with "blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull," and two women wailing over his body that was "still twitching and convulsing."

The author said he and another member then trained their weapons on Bin Laden's chest and fired several rounds, until he was motionless. The Seals later found two unloaded weapons -- an AK-47 rifle and a Makarov pistol -- near the bedroom door.

In the administration's version of events after the raid, the lead commando's shot in the stairwell missed, and the Seals confronted Bin Laden in the bedroom, killing him with one shot to the chest and another above the left eye.

The account in the new book, if true, raises the question of whether Bin Laden posed a clear threat to the commandos in his death throes.

U.S. military officials have said that the Seals made split- second decisions, fearing that Bin Laden, even though unarmed, could have triggered a suicide vest or other booby trap. …

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