How the bin Laden Raid Almost Went Horribly Wrong

Officials give AP a detailed recounting of what really happened
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2011 10:28 AM CDT
How the bin Laden Raid Almost Went Horribly Wrong
This May 2, 2011 file photo, taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair, File)

(Newser) – SEAL Team 6 had an elaborate plan for the Osama bin Laden raid—and it evaporated pretty much immediately. The plan had called for a pincher attack, with one team of SEALs entering the house from the roof, and another from the courtyard, sources tell the AP in an exclusive look at new details. But the night was hotter than expected, and the thinner air sent the first helicopter to a crash landing, the element of surprise irretrievably lost. Among other details:

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  • The second helicopter simply landed, and the SEALs all burst into the compound on the ground level, storming the compound floor by floor.
  • Three SEALs encountered bin Laden on the top floor in a hall, and, recognizing him instantly, pursued him into his room. One SEAL shoved two women away from bin Laden; a second SEAL shot him in the chest and head.
  • Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically: "Geronimo" referred to the letter "G," which was the stage in the plan that referred to the capture or killing of bin Laden.
  • It took approximately 15 minutes to reach bin Laden; the next 23 or so were spent blowing up the broken chopper, after rounding up nine women and 18 children to get them out of range of the blast.
  • One of three Chinook helicopters waiting inside Pakistan's border swooped in to pick up bin Laden's body and the SEALs from the disabled chopper.
  • President Obama did not ask for the shooter to identify himself when he met SEAL Team 6, but simply thanked each member.
For more detail on what happened inside, click here. (Read more Seal Team Six stories.)

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