Eleven years ago today on May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in Pakistan after U.S. Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six conducted a raid on his compound in Operation Neptune Spear.
Bin Laden was the founder and first leader of the terrorist group al Qaeda, which carried out the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
He was killed May 2, 2011 in local Pakistan time. For Americans in the United States, the date was May 1 when this took place due to time zone differences.
Then-President Barack Obama confirmed Bin Laden’s death in a 9-minute national address at 11:35 p.m. EST on May 1, 2011.
“Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” Obama said in his remarks.
Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL credited with firing the shots that killed Bin Laden during the raid on his Abbottabad compound, came forward publicly in November 2014 — more than three years after the raid, and more than two years after he separated from the military.
At the time, O’Neill emphasized the team’s collective involvement in the mission and downplayed his role in Bin Laden’s killing, despite admitting he fired the three fatal shots at Bin Laden within a second of identifying him.
Now, O’Neill regularly recounts his memories that day via Twitter.
In 2018, O’Neill tweeted, “Osama bin Laden died scared shitless. Hiding behind his wife.”
On Fox & Friends in 2018, O’Neill described some of the events of that night, including the moment he came face-to-face with bin Laden.
“I turn a corner after pretty much the bravest act of heroism I’ve ever seen, when the point man jumped on the suicide bombers – I turned to the right based on the way he went, and there was Bin Laden standing there about three feet away,” he said.
“We thought we were going to die,” O’Neill later added.
“How did a kid from Montana who would barely swim become a Navy SEAL and end up right here at this moment,” O’Neill said, recalling watching announcements of bin Laden’s death on TV while the terrorist leader’s dead body was at his feet.
“It was such an awesome night,” he continued. “It was such an honor […] to be a part of that incredible team.”
The historic SEAL raid was reenacted in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” showing a glimpse into the secret nighttime raid.
The nation erupted when news came out of Bin Laden’s death in 2011.