The hunt for 9/11 mastermind and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ended on May 11, 2011, nearly a decade after the terror attacks that transformed the globe. Five years after his death, the U.S. was estimated to have spent $3 trillion dollars as a result of his actions. This included not only the cost of hunting bin Laden and recovering from the direct effects of 9/11 but also the wars and security measures that he triggered, along with economic disruptions following the attacks. In 2014, Robert O’Neill was revealed as the Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden, and now, he’s published his memoir that details a night that changed history.
In The Operator, O’Neill writes about his early days and his impromptu decision to embark upon his grueling, 400-mission career, which reached its most climactic moments in Operation Neptune Spear (that is, the SEAL Team Six raid under the direction of the CIA and in conjunction with other special units coordinated by Joint Special Operations Command). O’Neill fired the most infamous shots of the operation, and The Mirror has published excerpts about the night bin Laden died. Fair warning — some the discussion is very graphic, but here’s the part where O’Neill describes arriving on the scene:
The copter door opened. We were two minutes out, looking out at a city which had no idea we were coming. The compound came into view. It was dark, as if the power was out, and I had a fleeting thought that maybe our Agency guys had made that happen somehow.
The door opened. As we entered, it was all dawning on me: “Holy sh*t, we’re here, that’s Bin Laden’s house. This is so cool. We’re probably not going to live, but this is historic and I’m going to savor this.”