Robert O’Neill agonized for months over whether to publicly reveal his role. (Courtesy of Robert O’Neill)
By Joby Warrick | November 6 at 1:32 PM
The Navy SEAL who fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden is a highly decorated veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who agonized for months over whether to publicly reveal his role in one of the most storied commando operations in U.S. history.
Robert O’Neill, 38, a Montana native, was near the head of the column of U.S. commandos who burst into bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout on May 2, 2011.
In a recent interview, O’Neill confirmed to The Washington Post that he fired the fatal shot that struck bin Laden in the forehead. He also acknowledged that shots were fired by at least two other SEAL team members, including Matt Bissonnette, who famously described the raid in the book, “No Easy Day.”
O’Neill was preparing to make his story public next week with interviews on Fox News and in The Washington Post, but his identity was disclosed preemptively by the Web site SOFREP, operated by former SEAL members, in a protest over O’Neill’s decision to reveal his role in the mission.
Over the course of several meetings with The Post, O’Neill said he decided to go public after becoming convinced that his identity was about to be leaked by others. What once was a closely guarded secret had spread widely through military circles, he said, and was known by members of Congress and at least two news organizations.
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