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First-hand account of Osama raid hits stands

world Updated: Sep 11, 2012 23:04 IST
Yashwant Raj

Mark Owen stared at the face intently, an infamous face with a long hooked nose, and dark beard. Rest of the face was all shot up, making it difficult to be identified.

The two women in the room were hysterical and unable to clearly confirm what every US Navy SEAL there knew but not sure enough to wire home the good news.

One of the Navy seals walked to a bunch of children huddled in a corner and asked them to identify the man lying dead on the floor in an expanding pool of his blood.

"Osama bin Laden," the girl answered.

The SEAL went back to the older of the two women, and asked more urgently. She was somewhat more cooperative this time. "Osama," she said, adding, "Osama bin Laden".

As the US remembered the dead of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Tuesday, No Easy Day, a book by one of the SEALs in the raid team, released to much hype and controversy.

The author, who is going under an assumed name Mark Owen, runs the risk of prosecution by the US defence department for not submitting the book for a mandatory preview.

Owen - who was identified by a US TV network as Matt Bissonette - has argued he has not violated any non-disclosure laws or revealed any secrets.

"If you are looking for secrets, this is not your book," Owen said in the author's note to the book. But the book's appeal is not so much the secrets as the details.

Though very little new ones were left to be told by the many stories that have been told and re-told of the raid with detailed officials briefings - there is even a movie coming soon by Oscar winning director of Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow - Owen's was a much awaited book.

Especially as it was timed to launch on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The main event in New York was kept free of elected officials for the first time.

"Al Qaeda's leadership has been devastated and Osama bin Laden will never threaten us again," President Barack Obama said at a memorial service at the Pentagon, near Washington DC.

The men who killed bin Laden, meanwhile, who were supposed to remain unidentified for their own safety and that of their families, now face possible exposure because of Owen.

The author is aware of the storm the book is going to cause. "It was a long, hard decision to write this book, and some in the community will look down on me for doing so."

But Owen said the story needed to be told to "set the record straight" to "finally give credit to those who earned it ... No one man or woman was more important than another."