WASHINGTON (AP) – The retired Navy SEAL who says he shot al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the forehead publicly identified himself Thursday amid a debate among special operations brethren about whether they should break silence about their secret miss-ions.
Robert O’Neill, 38, told The Washington Post in an interview that he fired the two shots that killed bin Laden. He first recounted the story in February 2013 to Esquire magazine, which identified him only as “the shooter”.
One current and one former SEAL confirmed to The Associated Press that O’Neill was long known to have fired the shots that killed the leader of the international terror group responsible for the September 11 attacks.
O’Neill told the Post that shots also were fired by two other SEAL team members, including Matt Bissonnette, who described the raid somewhat differently in his book, “No Easy Day”.
His lawyer said Bissonnette is under federal criminal investigation over whether he disclosed classified information in the book, which he did not vet with the military.
In the Esquire piece, O’Neill makes no mention of Bissonnette shooting bin Laden.
O’Neill discussed his role in the raid during a private meeting with relatives of victims of the 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center be-fore the recent opening of the National Sept 11 Memorial Museum.
He donated the shirt he was wearing in the operation, which is now on display there.
O’Neill is scheduled to be featured in lengthy segments next week on Fox News.