Unmasking Robert O’Neill, the US Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden
A decorated ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill has been unmasked as the man who pumped three shots to the head of elusive al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden during a top-secret 2011 raid on his hideout in Pakistan.
The identity of Rob O’Neill, 38, was revealed by the special operations community blog SPFrep.com, The Independent reported, adding that he is due to appear in an interview with Fox News to be aired Nov 11 and 12.
The two-part Fox News programme called “The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden” would provide “an extensive, first-hand account of the mission, including the unexpected crash of one of the helicopters that night and why SEAL Team Six feared for their lives”.
Tom O’Neill, the father of the Navy SEAL Rob, told the Daily Mail that he was not worried about the potential threat posed by Rob revealing his identity as the member of Team Six who shot the Al Qaeda founder three times in the head.
“People are asking if we are worried that ISIS (as the Sunni radical group Islamic State was previously known) will come and get us because Rob is going public. I say I’ll paint a big target on my front door and say come and get us,” he told the daily.
The veteran, who became a public speaker after his 16 years of service in the US military, was decorated 52 times.
He left as a senior chief petty officer. His decorations include two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, three Presidential Unit citations, and two Navy/Marine Corps Commendations with Valor.
He has reportedly decided to speak out after losing some of his military benefits because he left the SEALS after 16 years instead of serving a full 20 years.
O’Neill was one of 23 SEALS who flew into the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad on the night of 2nd May 2011, but the last to see bin Laden alive.
O’Neill, was last year interviewed by Esquire magazine, where he went under the pseudonym ‘The Shooter’. He told how he joined the army at the age of 19 as a reaction to his then-girlfriend leaving him. In this interview, ‘The Shooter’ goes on to mention that he killed Osama bin Laden with three shots.
After the interview, a serving SEAL was quoted by CNN as disputing O’Neill’s account that he had shot bin Laden with three shots. He said that O’Neill had shot bin Laden once in the head after which two more SEALs rushed into the room. They shot him in the chest when they saw him lying mortally-wounded on the floor.
O’Neill served more than a dozen tours of duty in active combat, including Iraq and Afghanistan, undertaking 400 separate combat missions.
He has been a part of many many profile operations. He was the lead jumper on the ship Maersk Alabama, which was taken over Somali pirates in 2009.
His exploits have already been portrayed on the big screen in the action flicks “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Captain Phillips” and “Lone Survivor.”
The revelation of Bin Laden’s apparent killer comes a day after the head of the US Naval Warfare Special Command issued a letter warning Navy SEALs against breaking their promise to maintain secrecy after their missions.