“Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life.” Such describes the pivotal moment in the now infamous Osama Bin Laden raid in Pakistan, as written by Nicholas Schmidle, appearing in the latest edition of the New Yorker.
Due to the ongoing debt crisis, this article will likely receive far less attention than it deserves, but here at The Last Word, we took notice. In the piece, Schmidle captures the depth of uncertainty surrounding the operation, while simultaneously illustrating the way in which SEAL Team 6 bravely carried out the mission with the greatest of secrecy and cohesion, even when things began to go wrong. The article is a must-read, but in case you cannot find time to read all of it, we did you the favor of highlighting a few of the most enthralling details.
- Twenty-three Navy SEALS lifted off in two helicopters for the mission, bringing with them a translator to stand guard incase neighbors approached the house and grew curious (remember, OBL lived in a neighborhood), and a dog to search for trap doors inside the compound.
- A raid was not always guaranteed. Digging tunnels to the house was also considered, but finally dropped.
- The raid was called “Operation Neptune’s Spear.” Stages in the mission were given Native American code names, with “Geronimo” being the term used to describe finding OBL. Bin Laden himself was referred to as “crankshaft”.
- The SEAL to enter the bedroom on the top floor of the compound where OBL was hiding first encountered two of his wives, who proceeded to charge at him. Fearing that they were wearing bomb-vests, the SEAL grabbed both of them in his arms, and lunged away from the door frame, in the hopes that if they detonated the suicide bomb vests, the two SEALs behind him would not be harmed, and thus able to continue the mission and eliminate OBL. The women were discovered to not be wearing bomb vests.
- With the first SEAL in control of OBL’s wives, a second SEAL following him into the room was able to locate bin Laden. He pointed his infrared laser at bin Laden’s chest and fired his weapon. As bin Laden fell backwards, the SEAL fired another shot, through his head, just above his left eye. These shots were fatal.
- The SEAL who fired at bin Laden confirmed his death over radio, saying “For God and country — Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” Adding after a pause, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.” — “enemy killed in action.”
- On May 6, President Obama travelled to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to meet the SEALs involved with the raid. At this meeting, the president neither asked, nor did the SEALs volunteer the name of the individual who fired the shots that killed bin Laden.
— By Peter Carril