Moments before he died, Osama bin Laden may have gotten a brief glimpse of what was headed his way – as a bullet whizzed by his head.
U.S. commandos missed with their first shot at the world’s most wanted man poked his head out of a third-floor room in his fortress, according to U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Bin Laden ducked back in, and the Navy SEALS quickly followed and finished the job, Chambliss said in a telephone interview this afternoon.
The missed shot was a new detail in the emerging story of the 40-minute raid on the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan. Chambliss also said commandos found a pistol and AK-47 in bin Laden’s room.
More details to come later, but here’s what Chambliss said:
”I hope they went in with the idea of killing him, not capturing him. We needed to take this guy out. And I know that’s what the executive order said.
“The other thing you have to remember is that this was pitch dark. When they got into the room with bin Laden, they already had to go through some other folks downstairs, two of which they killed. And they were having to use explosives to blow doors open. By the time they got to him, they didn’t know what they would find.”
The SEALS encountered bin Laden on the third floor of the compound, after blowing a door that led down a hallway, Chambliss said.
”They blew the door open, and they looked down the hallway and he stuck his head out of the room that he was in, and saw them, and ducked back in. They fired a shot, and missed him the first time – and then went to the room. And that’s when they killed him.”
Chambliss added this:
“They did in fact find an AK-47 and a pistol in bin Laden’s room. Whether he was making any move to get to that is not clear. But taking him down in pitch-dark conditions was the right thing to do.”
The vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee also expressed puzzlement at the varying accounts of the raid coming out of the White House.
For instance, John Brennan, the president’s advisor on terrorism, on Monday gave an account of the raid that didn’t square what CIA Director Leon Panetta had given Chambliss and other senators the day before.
For instance, Brennan told reporters that bin Laden had used his wife as a shield in his last moments. The White House later disavowed that detail.
“You’d think that 24 hours after the fact, they’d be able to ferret things out a little more,” Chambliss said. “But I know that anytime you have a situation like this – it happens in a far-off land, and you’ve got 24 guys rushing into a compound, guns a-blazing, there’s going to be confusion.”
Still, Chambliss said, “Every day it seems like somebody is having to straighten out some fact.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider