Despite renewed controversy over who actually killed Osama bin Laden, the one member of SEAL Team Six who could settle the whole thing -- and the man who may have actually pulled the trigger that fateful night -- may never speak out, according to new reports and a former member of the elite unit.
"You're never going to hear from him," the ex-SEAL Team Six member told ABC News. "I've spoken to him. He's just the type that doesn't care about it... [He] doesn't think he did anything special. He simply pulled the trigger when he was supposed to. That's why he'll never go public."
The al Qaeda leader was killed almost two years ago, but questions over who exactly took him down reignited this week after a pair of reports -- first out of the special operations website SOFREP.com and then from CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen -- cited anonymous SEAL Team Six members who claimed that the account of "the Shooter" featured in a recent Esquire magazine article was, to quote SOFREP's source, "complete bulls**t."
Both CNN's and SOFREP's reports cite a single anonymous SEAL Team Six member each, and both point out apparent inconsistencies in the Esquire account.
In the Esquire article, an ex-SEAL, who the magazine only calls "the Shooter," claims he and another SEAL, the "point man," were alone on the stairs heading up to the third floor of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Before they reached the third floor, the point man saw a man poke his head out of the bedroom doorway on the third floor so the point man unleashed a few shots in his direction. The shots missed, however, and when the pair reached the third floor, the point man peeled off to tackle two women who were in the hallway -- a move meant to protect his teammates from possible suicide bombs. The Shooter, then, was the first to enter the bedroom where he came face-to-face with bin Laden, standing just inches away, and was the one who shot him three times in the head before he could get to a nearby AK-47.
That account is markedly different from the first SEAL account of the raid, as written by the pseudonymous Mark Owen in the book "No Easy Day," which came out last fall.
In Owen's account, Owen, the point man and a third SEAL -- since identified as Esquire's "the Shooter" -- all went up to the third floor together after the point man's shots from the stairway. But when they entered bin Laden's room together, they found the al Qaeda leader already down and bleeding from the head. The point man's earlier shots had apparently connected.
The two women were inside the bedroom when the point man, having deemed the downed bin Laden was not a threat, tackled them into the corner. Owen and the Shooter then fired a few more bullets into bin Laden's dying body. Only later did the SEALs realize who they had killed, Owen said.
Clouding the events further is another account written by "Black Hawk Down" author Mark Bowden called "The Finish" based on interviews with higher-level military officials up the chain of command all the way to President Obama. In that account, three SEALs ascended the steps together but bin Laden was alive and standing in the bedroom when the point man entered. The point man tackled the two women in the room and the second SEAL through the door, who Bowden did not identify, was the one that shot bin Laden first in the chest and then in the head.
Bowden's book, which was still in press when "No Easy Day" hit bookshelves, later carried an insert deferring to Owen's version of events.