The hunt for Osama bin Laden took almost a decade and cost hundreds of millions of pounds.
When the architect of the horror of 9/11 was finally tracked down to a high-security compound in Pakistan in May 2011, a team of elite US Navy Seals was sent in to action.
Among them was Robert O’Neill, who became known as the man who killed Bin Laden.
Here, from his book The Operator, Robert tells how he came face to face with the most wanted man on the planet…
We were in Pakistan and we knew we could get shot down at any minute. Thoughts start running through your mind: “How does it feel when a helicopter blows up? How long does it take to die?”
The copter door opened. We were two minutes out, looking out at a city which had no idea we were coming. The compound came into view. It was dark, as if the power was out, and I had a fleeting thought that maybe our Agency guys had made that happen somehow.
Within seconds of jumping from the chopper, the breacher attached a seven-foot charge of C-6 to the gate in front of us and blew it. The metal gate peeled open like a tin can. Behind it was a solid brick wall. The breacher said: “Failed breach. This is bad.”
“No, this is good,” I said. “That’s a fake door. That means he’s in there.”
We were going to blow the carport. The radio crackled to life. “No, don’t blow it, we’ll just open it.”
The door opened. As we entered, it was all dawning on me: “Holy s***, we’re here, that’s Bin Laden’s house. This is so cool. We’re probably not going to live, but this is historic and I’m going to savour this.”
I could hear gunfire. I came around the corner to see one of our guys in the aftermath of a gunfight in front of the main house. He shot through a window, and a man and woman were down inside.
He looked concerned. “I just killed one of the women,” he said. “She jumped in front of him right as I was shooting. Am I going to be in trouble?”
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