An ex-Navy SEAL, who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden, has said that ahead of the 2011 Abbottabad raid he bought farewell gifts for his children and had a “last conversation” with his father as he believed it was a “one way” mission. Ex-Navy SEAL team shooter Robert O’Neill told CNN about the preparations he made before he left for the trip, which included arranging to have a last meal with his kids and heading to the mall to buy them “never coming back presents”. “As depressing as that sounds…I wasn’t afraid, I was just focused,” O’Neill was quoted as saying. “We were preparing to not come home.”
O’Neill also recalled how he had arranged for a last conversation with his father. “My father, he and I talked. We would talk before a lot of missions, he would joke like, ‘I wish I could go with you!’ I would say, I know, Dad, I wish you could, too. I said I am with some great guys. That was the last conversation,” O’Neill said. O’Neill said he participated in more than 400 missions during his time with the SEALs.
Despite his concerns, the raid on Osama’s Pakistan compound “wasn’t even one of the most difficult targets we’ve been on,” he said. “They selected a group of combat veteran navy SEALs. We’d all done it hundreds and hundreds of times. It was the best team I’ve ever been a part of,” O’Neill said. “We were given the most time to prepare for this mission. So we knew the outside of the compound very, very well. We knew most of the contingencies,” he said.
Talking about the night of the raid itself, O’Neill said that “everyone just did their jobs”. “Our tactics took over. We didn’t know what the inside looked like, but that didn’t matter. I was able to watch as we slowly went up the stairs,” the ex-Navy SEAL said. “And when we got to the top, I was in position where I turned a corner and I did what any SEAL, any Ranger, any special operator would have done. I saw bin Laden, and he was a threat, he was not surrendering, and so I took — I treated him as if he were a suicide bomber, which I assumed he was, and I shot him in the face three times,” he said.
O’Neill has faced criticism after first going public with his story. Asked as to whether the rest of the team he worked with that night were “cool” with him telling his story, O’Neill said that he thought that “some will be happy and some will be upset.” O’Neill, in his book ‘The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Bin Laden’, has revealed that Osama’s head was so severely destroyed by his gunfire that it had to be pressed back together for identification.