The Words The SEAL Killing Osama bin Laden Radioed Home

Kompas.com - 02/08/2011, 14:48 WIB
EditorJimmy Hitipeuw

KOMPAS.com - When he pulled the trigger on his silenced rifle in a darkened bedroom in Pakistan and shot a tall, unarmed man with a straggly beard in a prayer cap and shalwar kameez, he ended a nine-year manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, the man who claimed 2,973 American lives on September 11, 2001.

But no-one - not even President Barack Obama - will ever know the name of that SEAL, nor of the comrade who wrapped Bin Laden's wives in a huge bear hug and dragged them aside in case they were wearing suicide bomb vests, knowing he would absorb most of the blast and save the men behind him.

For the first time, the full fascinating details of that world-changing raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan have been revealed, from the CostCo sandwiches the White House ordered for the Situation Room to the SEAL's first words after he killed the world's most-wanted man: 'For God and country - Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.'

According to the article in this week's New Yorker, it also emerged 'there was never any question of detaining or capturing' Bin Laden - even though the White House always insisted the terror leader would not have died if he'd surrendered.

It also revealed that the SEALs were not wearing cameras on their helmets, and Mr Obama and his colleagues spent nearly 25 minutes anxiously waiting to hear from the 23 SEALs, one translator and a Belgian Malinois dog named Cairo who were engaged in the covert raid to kill the Al Qaeda mastermind.

As they waited, Vice President Joe Biden nervously fingered his rosary. After the first dramatic words from Abbottabad, the SEAL added: 'Geronimo E.K.I.A - enemy killed in action.' Geronimo was the codename for a hit on Bin Laden.

The president pursed his lips, and speaking to no-one in particular said: 'We got him'. The SEALs put Bin Laden in a body bag and carried him out of the house, where a medic took two bone marrow samples and DNA swabs.

When they landed back in Afghanistan, they unzipped the bag to show their commander, and lacking a tape measure, a 6ft SEAL lay down next to his body to check that it was 6ft4ins - Bin Laden's height. When the raid was over Obama handed that commander a gift - a tape measure.

In the article, Nicholas Schmidle builds up a picture of a raid the president had hoped for ever since he entered the White House - and for which he had to fight colleagues, including Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who warned it would fail.

Just four days before the, CIA director Leon Panetta had asked top-ranking intelligence officials how certain they were Bin Laden was living in the compound. The answers ranged from 95 per cent to just 40 per cent.

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