A controversial new book written by a retired US Navy SEAL who was involved in the raid on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 is contradicting the government’s official account of the events leading to the capture and death of the world’s most wanted terrorist.
According to the book, No Easy Day, written by former Navy Seal Matt Bissonnette, bin Laden, the mastermind behind the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks, was apparently hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his secret compound as SEALs stormed a narrow stairwell in his direction.
Bissonnette -- writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen -- says that he was directly behind a "point man" going up the stairs in the pitch black hallway. "Less than five steps" from top of the stairs, he says he heard "suppressed" gunfire: "BOP. BOP." The point man had seen a "man peeking out of the door" on the right side of the hallway.
Bissonnette claims that bin Laden ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, but found him crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood with a hole on the right side of his head; he says two women were wailing over his body.
Bissonnette says the point man shoved the two women into a corner. He says he and the other SEALs trained their guns' laser sites on bin Laden's body, which was still-twitching, and shot him several times until he stopped moving. The SEALs later found two weapons stored by the doorway, untouched, he says.
The author’s account differs from statements made by administration officials who said SEALs shot bin Laden only after he ducked back into the bedroom because they feared he might be reaching for a weapon.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor would not comment on the apparent contradiction late Tuesday. But he said in an email, "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.'"
The account is likely to once again raise questions as to whether the raid was intended to capture or simply to kill bin Laden.
The book also contradicts U.S. officials’ claims that bin Laden's body was treated with dignity before being given a full Muslim burial at sea.
Bissonnette writes that in the cramped helicopter flight out of the compound, one of the SEALs called "Walt" -- one of the pseudonyms the author used for his fellow SEALs -- was sitting on the terrorist’s chest as the body lay at the author's feet in the middle of the cabin, for the short flight to a refueling stop inside Pakistan where a third helicopter was waiting. Bissonnette notes that this is common practice, as troops sometimes must sit on their own war dead in packed helicopters.
U.S. officials are concerned the book may include classified information and if so, they could take legal action against the author.
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Bissonnette says he did "not disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way."
Bissonnette's real name was first revealed by Fox News and confirmed to The Associated Press.
Jihadists on al-Qaida websites have posted purported photos of the author, calling for his murder.
No Easy Day is scheduled to be released next Tuesday, September 4 – one week earlier than its original release date of September 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.