Who shot Osama bin Laden? Former US Navy Seals make rival claims

Robert O'Neill, 38, told The Washington Post that he fired the fatal shot that hit the Al-Qaeda leader in the forehead at his hideout in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad in May 2011. -- PHOTO: TWITTER / ROBERT O'NEILL
Robert O'Neill, 38, told The Washington Post that he fired the fatal shot that hit the Al-Qaeda leader in the forehead at his hideout in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad in May 2011. -- PHOTO: TWITTER / ROBERT O'NEILL
Wreckage is seen in the compound after U.S. Navy Seal commandos killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, in this file picture. Members of the US Navy Seal commando team are now making conflicting claims as to who actually shot bin Laden.
Wreckage is seen in the compound after U.S. Navy Seal commandos killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, in this file picture. Members of the US Navy Seal commando team are now making conflicting claims as to who actually shot bin Laden. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Members of the US Navy Seal commando team that killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistan hideout in May, 2011 are making conflicting claims as to who actually shot the al-Qaeda leader.

The Washington Post published a story on Thursday quoting Mr Rob O'Neill, a former Seal, as claiming to have fired the fatal shot that hit bin Laden in the forehead after Mr O'Neill stormed into a room in his house in Abbottabad.

The claim by Mr O'Neill, who travels the country giving motivational speeches, was countered by a source close to another Seal team member.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the team member told him the fatal shot was fired by one of two other men who entered the room before Mr O'Neill.

The Post said Mr O'Neill acknowledged shots were fired at bin Laden by at least two other Seal team members, including Mr Matt Bissonnette, a former Seal who wrote a 2012 book about the raid entitled No Easy Day. The book did not identify the person who shot bin Laden.

NBC News quoted Mr Bissonnette on Thursday as saying: "Two different people telling two different stories for two different reasons ... Whatever he (Mr O'Neill) says, he says. I don't want to touch that."

Last year, after Esquire Magazine published an interview with an anonymous Seal member, now widely reported to have been Mr O'Neill, who claimed to have shot bin Laden, other media outlets questioned the account.

An article entitled Who Really Killed Bin Laden, by Mr Peter Bergen, a CNN analyst and Al-Qaeda expert, quoted a then-serving Seal team member as saying the story as presented by Esquire was "complete B.S."

A representative of a speaker's organisation which says it represents Mr O'Neill said he was unavailable to comment.

Mr O'Neill's page on the website of the organisation describes his career as a Seal, but makes no mention of a role in killing bin Laden.

Mr Bissonnette's lawyer, Mr Robert Luskin, acknowledged on Thursday that Mr Bissonnette for some time had been under criminal investigation by both the Naval Criminal Investigation Service and the Justice Department for possible violations of a US espionage law because he did not seek official clearance before publishing his book.

Mr Bissonnette has denied wrongdoing.