Revealed: How Obama was playing golf until 20 minutes before Navy SEALs began mission to take out Bin Laden
Stayed out on golf course to distance himself if it went wrong, book claims
We would have taken him alive if he surrendered, says commander
Al-Qaeda leader's wife screamed: 'No, no, don't do this... it’s not him!'
SEALs nicknamed Bin Laden 'Bert' in reference to Sesame Street muppet
By DANIEL BATES
Last updated at 7:41 AM on 7th November 2011
In the official photograph, he looked every inch the commander in chief.
Strain etched on his face, Barack Obama watched as the raid to kill Osama bin Laden played out on a television in front of him.
According to a new book, however, the President was not nearly that engaged – and was actually playing golf until 20 minutes before the operation began in earnest.
Quick change: President Obama was golfing just 20 minutes before Osama Bin Laden was killed and he was pictured looking on intently in the Situation Room, right, according to a new book (File golf picture from June)
Only then did he down his clubs and return to the White House to watch what he later trumpeted as a great success of his presidency.
A new book claims the official account was riddled with errors and that Bin Laden was referred to as 'Bert' and not just 'Geronimo'.
Also, none of the Navy SEALs said the now famous words: 'For God and country', and when they burst into Bin Laden's room, his wife screamed: 'No, no, don't do this... it’s not him!'
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The claims are from Chuck Pfarrer, a former SEAL team commander, in a book called SEAL Target Geronimo.
He has spoken to several of the men who carried out the operation at Bin Laden's mansion hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2.
Mr Pfarrer paints a very different picture to the official photo released at the time which shows Mr Obama and advisers huddled round a table in the White House situation room as footage was beamed from a drone 15,000ft above the al-Qaeda leader's mansion.
Holed up: Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden watches himself on TV at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where he was shot dead by U.S. Navy SEALs
Elite: Former SEAL commander Chuck Pfarrer (right) has written a book giving a blow-by-blow account of hunting down Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan
Mr Pfarrer says the President's role was largely inflated and suggests he stayed out on the golf course for so long so he could distance himself in case it went wrong. Mr Pfarrer writes: 'If this had completely gone south, he was in a position to disavow.'
He says the White House photographs did not show the moment that Bin Laden was killed, but the moment a helicopter went down, which happened after the shooting.
Mr Obama is known to be a keen golfer. Just today, as the White House was being encircled by 8,000 environmental protesters, he was on a course in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
The President also played golf four times during his week-long family holiday on Martha's Vineyard.
The book also claims that bin Laden would have been captured if he gave himself up. Mr Pfarrer said a SEAL team would not have been sent in for a kill mission, adding: 'If it was a kill mission you don't need SEAL Team 6; you need a box of hand grenades.'
The book also gives a dramatic new insight into what happened during the 1am raid, during which only 12 bullets were fired.
Fighting force: SEAL Team 6 were the elite soldiers who killed Bin Laden after a stealth mission
Within 90 seconds of their helicopter landing, the SEALs saw Bin Laden slam his bedroom door shut. Two SEALs burst in and saw Bin Laden and one of his four wives, Amal, who shouted: 'It's not him!'
Contrary to White House statements that he was unarmed, Bin Laden had a gun next to him. As he shoved his wife at the SEALs, four shots were fired.
The first round whistled past Bin Laden’s face. The second grazed his wife's calf. Mr Pfarrer claims: 'Two 5.56mm Predator bullets slammed into him. One struck him next to his breastbone, blowing apart his aorta. The last went through his skull.'
He also reveals that Bin Laden was known as Bert to the Seals, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri was Ernie – a reference to the Sesame Street puppets.
The SEALS have decided to speak out after being enraged by the image that was being painted of them as cold-blooded murderers on a 'kill mission'.
Pfarrer said: 'I’ve been a SEAL for 30 years and I never heard the words ''kill mission''.
The soldiers were also said to be disappointed that Obama announced Bin Laden's death on TV a few hours later, making their intelligence-gathering futile.
Mr Pfarrer also said the President's announcement of the 'intentional' killing was understandable but nonetheless disappointing.
Mr Pfarrer told the Sunday Times: 'There isn’t a politician in the world who could resist trying to take credit for getting Bin Laden but it devalued the ''intel'' and gave time for every other Al-Qaeda leader to scurry to another bolthole.
Dangerous operation: The wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter that crashed outside the compound where Osama Bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May
Target: Neighbours gather outside the Abbottabad compound after the death of Osama Bin Laden
'The men who did this and their valorous act deserve better. It’s a pretty shabby way to treat these guys.'
The operation began to come together in January 2010 after it was discovered that a 'high-value individual' was hiding out at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The commanding officer of the SEALS was brought to a top secret meeting with the CIA and his boss Admiral William McRaven to prepare a plan to present to the President.
Pfarrer asked: 'So is this Bert or Ernie?', according to the SEALs' Sesame Street nicknames for Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.
CIA intelligence confirmed they were '60 per cent or 70 per cent certain it’s our guy'.
Satellite images had measured the target's shadow, making him 'over 6ft tall'. He was dubbed 'the pacer' as he was constantly seen walking back and forth.
DEBUNKING THE MYTHS
U.S. Government says: Team always intended to shoot Bin Laden
Navy SEALs say: Had he surrendered, we would have taken him alive
Government: Mission took several minutes
SEALs: Bin Laden killed in the first 90 seconds
Government: Protracted gun battle
SEALs: 12 bullets fired
Government: SEALs were on a 'kill mission'
SEALs: The phrase 'kill mission' has been made up by politicians
In the following months, the team of SEALS began to make detailed preparations including practising manoeuvres at a mock-up of the compound at a remote army camp.
It was planned that the team would use Ghost Hawk helicopters because they were so quiet on approach, the Seals described them as flying in 'whisper mode', according to Mr Pfarrer.
Mr Obama gave the mission the green light and SEAL Team 6, known as the Jedi, kicked into action.
After being deployed to Afghanistan, the team were told to use older helicopters, Stealth Hawks, as sending in Ghost Hawks without the back up of jet fighters was considered too risky. Decoy targets were set up and the U.S. Navy scrambled Pakistan's radar to protect the mission.
The operation, called Neptune's Spear, was meant to take place on April 30 but was rescheduled for May 1 because of bad weather. In the dead of night, the SEALS flew on two Stealth Hawks, codenamed Razor 1 and 2, followed by two Chinooks five minutes behind.
Each SEAL was wearing body armour and night-vision goggles and equipped with laser targets, radios and sawn-off M4 rifles.
Also on board were a CIA agent, a Pakistani- American interpreter and a sniffer dog called Karo, wearing dog body armour and goggles.
It was estimated that around 30 people were in the high-walled compound in Abbottabad - Bin Laden and three of his wives, two sons, Khalid and Hamza, his courier, Abu Ahmed al- Kuwaiti, four bodyguards and a number of children.
At 56 minutes past midnight the compound came into sight and the code 'Palm Beach' gave the signal they were three minutes to landing.
The first helicopter hovered over the main house, where Bin Laden was known to live on the top floor. A team of 12 SEALS abseiled the 5ft-6ft down onto the roof, leapt onto a terrace and kicked in the windows.
The first person they saw was Bin Laden’s third wife Khaira. She fell after being blinded by a strobe light and was caught by a SEAL who pinned her to the floor.
One to watch: President Obama (2nd L), Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) along with top officials follow the mission to find Osama Bin Laden at the White House
Bin Laden suddenly appeared in the doorway of a bedroom along the hall and then slammed the door.
One SEAL radioed: 'Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo' signalling that they had spotted the target.
As people started moving in other parts of the house and lights were thrown on, Bin Laden's son Khalid came running up the stairs towards the SEALS and was shot dead.
Two commandos kicked in Bin Laden's door to find the al-Qaeda leader cowering behind his youngest wife Amal.
As Bin Laden tried to reach for his AK-47 rifle, the SEALS opened fire.
One round hit the mattress, another grazed Amal in the calf.
They each fired again: one shot hit Bin Laden's breastbone, the other his skull, blowing out the back of his head. His dead body slumped to the floor and he lay face up - just 90 seconds after the mission began.
Earlier reports had suggested that Bin Laden was not killed until after a protracted gun fight.
The second helicopter had headed to a smaller guesthouse in the compound where Bin Laden’s courier, Kuwaiti, and his brother lived.
Gripping read: Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer describes what really happened the night Bin Laden was finally caught
As the helicopter closed in, a man appeared in the door with an assault rife and began to fire. Someone on board shouted 'Bust him!' A sniper on board the chopper fired two shots and Kuwaiti was killed along with his wife standing behind him.
Within two minutes the SEALS had cleared the guesthouse and removed the women and children. They then ran to meet their colleagues at the main building, firing two bullets into one of Bin Laden's bodyguards who was brandishing a gun.
Five minutes later, a Chinook landed by the compound and more commandos flooded into the compound.
The commanding officer went to view Bin Laden's corpse before confirming via satellite phone to the White House 'Geronimo Echo KIA' - that their number one enemy was dead.
Pfarrer added: 'This was the first time the White House knew he was dead and it was probably 20 minutes into the raid.'
A sample of Bin Laden’s DNA was taken, the body was bagged and put on the helicopter. His rifle is now mounted on the wall of their team room at their headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
On leaving the compound the first helicopter had an electrical failre and crashed tail-first into the compound.
SEALS initially thought it had been shot down as they rushed to help the crew who escaped unharmed.
Variations: Members of the elite military team have questioned the White House's version of the events surrounding Bin Laden's death