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'SEALS were told to catch Osama alive, if possible'

September 05, 2012 16:22 IST

The raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan was 'not a kill-only' mission as commandos were told to capture the dreaded al Qaeda chief alive if possible, a former Navy SEAL has claimed.

Former commando Matt Bissonnette, who has written a book titled 'No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden', using the pseudonym 'Mark Owen', has made the claim in an interview to CBS news.

"This was absolutely not a kill-only mission. It was made very clear to us throughout our training for this that, 'Hey, if given the opportunity, this is not an assassination. You will capture him alive... if feasible'," Bissonnette said.

A makeup artist was employed to disguise his appearance and sound manipulation was used to mask his real voice for the interview.

His book has irked the Pentagon as it had threatened to take legal action against the former Navy SEAL on charges of leaking classified information. The book went on sale on Tuesday.

On being asked if capturing the most wanted terrorist was the preferred thing, Bissonnette said, "Yeah, yeah. I mean, we're not there to assassinate somebody. We weren't sent in to murder him. This was, Hey, kill or capture."

Apart from making the claim that they were told to capture bin Laden alive if possible, Bissonnette also gave an insight in to the crashing of one of the two helicopters in the courtyard of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad on May 2, last year.

Pakistan didn't know they were coming so the helicopters, flown by the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, flew at tree-top level on a moonless night to avoid Pakistani air defenses.

They reached the target and prepared to slide down ropes into the compound when everything went wrong in Bissonnette's chopper.

"And then, all of a sudden, we banked hard 90 degrees, and then we-- once we went hard 90-- it was very apparent that something was wrong," Bissonnette said.

"Something about the downdraft hitting the complex of walls below caused the heavily loaded helicopter to falter in the air," he added.

Bin Laden was shot in the head by a 'point man' from the crack US Navy SEALS unit as the al-Qaeda leader peered out through his narrowly-opened bedroom door.

Bursting into his room, the Seals then fired more rounds into his body as he lay on the floor in his death throes and as two of his wives wailed beside him.

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