WASHINGTON, Aug 29 – A book by a member of the US commando team that killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani hideout contradicts some details of the operation as presented by President Barack Obama’s administration, media reported Wednesday.
“No Easy Day”, which is due to be released on September 4, offers a first-hand description of the May 2011 raid and says Bin Laden was already shot in the head by the time the US Navy SEAL team entered his bedroom, according to the Huffington Post.
Previous accounts by the Obama administration said Bin Laden had appeared in a doorway and ducked back into his bedroom, with commandos suspecting he might be retrieving a weapon.
But the author, writing under the pseudonym “Mark Owen,” said Bin Laden was shot in the head by the SEAL team when he peered out of a doorway and was found bleeding from his wound when commandos made their way to his room, according to excerpts cited in media reports and confirmed to AFP by defense officials..
Bin Laden was convulsing as a woman cried over his body. The team pushed aside the woman and then fired more shots at the Al-Qaeda leader, according to the book.
“(We) fired several rounds,” he says. “The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”
The Obama administration had said Bin Laden’s body was treated with dignity and given a Muslim burial at sea. But on the helicopter flight out of Pakistan, a SEAL member sat on Bin Laden’s chest due to cramped quarters on the chopper, according to the book.
US officials insisted there was no display of disrespect, even if the author’s description was accurate.
The commandos already had lost one helicopter in the operation, which crash landed at the compound, and that made for crowded conditions on the remaining aircraft, said a defense official.
“There’s very little room, they were in a situation where they lost one bird. It was crowded,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Special operations forces crammed into helicopters have sometimes had to sit on the bodies of their own fallen comrades in other raids, the official added.
Top officials from intelligence agencies and US Special Operations Command, which oversees the Navy SEALS, are reviewing the book to determine if the author revealed any classified information or secret tactics, which would violate Pentagon rules and trigger legal action.
“The Department of Defense has a copy of the book and we’re taking a look at it,” said spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Steve Warren.
The Obama administration sidestepped questions raised by the book.
“As President Obama said on the night that justice was brought to Osama bin Laden, ‘We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country,’” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Administration officials appeared anxious to avoid having to defend and discuss again an operation they deem a major success.
“We are not going to rehash the whole thing,” said a US defense official.
“We’re not going to comment on his account.”