Navy SEAL who claims to have shot Osama bin Laden under investigation | News | DW | 24.12.2014
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Navy SEAL who claims to have shot Osama bin Laden under investigation

A former SEAL Team 6 member has claimed to be the one who fatally shot the 9/11 mastermind in 2011. The US Navy has opened an investigation into whether he broke the law by leaking top secret infomation.

Robert O'Neill, the Navy SEAL who caused a storm of controversy last month by claiming to be the one who shot Osama Bin Laden, is being investigated for leaking secret information, a Navy spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

"The Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) is in receipt of an allegation that Mr. O'Neill may have revealed classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information," Commander Ryan Perry told the media.

Conflicting stories

Although O'Neill may have upset top military brass and other SEALs by speaking publicly about his role in the 2011 raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, he has always maintained that he revealed nothing classified. The decorated Montana native told The Washington Post that he felt compelled to come forward after meeting with relatives of the victims of the September 11 attacks.

"The families told me it helped to bring them some closure," O'Neill said to the Post.

Serving SEALS maintain a very strict code of silence about their missions. At the end of October, Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci and Rear Admiral Brian Losey wrote a letter to the Naval Special Warfare Command, under whose umbrella the SEALs operate, reminding their ranks that a "critical tenet" of their force was to "not advertise the nature of my work nor seek recognition for my action."

Another member of the elite SEAL Team 6, who carried out the raid against the al Qaeda leader, Matt Bissonette, told another version of events in his 2012 book "No Easy Day." Bissonette suggests that the man who led the way to bin Laden's bedroom presumably fired the fatal shots, and afterward a second SEAL, most likely O'Neill, fired a second round.

O'Neill had already been a SEAL for 15 years at the time of the mission in Abbottabad, and in 2009 he was part of the mission to rescue captain Richard Phillips, who would later be portrayed on film by Tom Hanks, from Somali pirates.

es/mg (AP, AFP)

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