Osama Bin Laden Raiders Encountered False Door, Found Small Arsenal in Compound
U.S. officials unapologetic for SEAL raid: "These guys are American heroes."
May 5, 2011 — -- New revelations about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden reveal that the SEAL raiders encountered a false door and found a small arsenal of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle in bin Laden's bedroom.
As the Navy SEALs have been debriefed about their mission that left the al Qaeda leader dead, the White House has been forced to correct details of what happened during Sunday's raid at bin Laden's Abbottabad compound.
Despite the changes in the White House version of what happened during the 40 minute raid on bin Laden's sprawling million dollar mansion, officials were unapologetic about the SEALs' actions.
"These guys are American heroes. They were told to kill bin Laden. We've had the authority to kill bin Laden since 9/11. And that's exactly what they did," a U.S. official told ABC News.
The SEALs were already in a heightened and aggressive posture, but that was exacerbated when one of the first doors they tried to open turned out to be a false door. The bricked off, false door put the military members in a position of suspecting that the house would be full of such items, perhaps with lethal booby traps. The SEALs reportedly had a specially trained dog with them on the raid who could sniff for bombs and to see if rooms were booby trapped.
Watch "KILL SHOT: THE STORY BEHIND BIN LADEN'S DEATH," a special "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
The Americans were also fired on by a man who was one of bin Laden's trusted couriers, officials said. The courier was killed by return fire from the SEALs, and they did not encounter any additional gunfire.
That early gunfire indicated to the SEALs that they might expect further resistance. And they did find a small arsenal of weapons in the home.
"We recovered three AK-47s and two pistols from the compound. They weren't storming a PTA meeting. They were storming into Osama Bin Laden's fortress hideout," said the same U.S. official. At least one AK-47 was found in bin Laden's room.
As the SEALs worked their way through the home, they were connected to one another by a network of radios. They were monitored in Afghanistan by Vice Admiral William McRaven, the officer in charge of the mission.
As the team moved floor to floor of the compound, checking closets and under beds, they would shout "clear" to deem a room safe.
McRaven relayed that information to Panetta who was keeping Obama and his national security team abreast of the mission as it unfolded in the White House Situation Room.
Of all the equipment that the SEALS took into and out of Bin Laden's sprawling compound in Abbottabad, the one thing they didn't have was a tape measure to help in identifying the terrorist. One SEAL was forced to lie down next to the corpse of Bin Laden to approximate his height, sources told ABC News.
When the stealth helicopters lifted off with the body of bin Laden, his 29-year-old wife and three children were left behind. Bin Laden's wife charged at U.S. forces and was shot in the leg during the raid. Her 13-year-old daughter witnessed her father's death. Both are now in the custody of Pakistani intelligence officials.
Pakistani officials questioned the lawfulness of the raid today. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not call Pakistani officials about the raid until nearly two hours after it was completed, officials told ABC News.
Pakistani intelligence officials are not letting U.S. investigators talk to bin Laden's wife and daughter for now. U.S. officials want to know who visited bin Laden's compound, where the family had lived before and the whereabouts of bin Laden's right hand man and the second in command of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri.
While fresh details of the raid have continued to spill out, the president ended any thought that he might release photos of bin Laden's corpse.