One Navy SEAL Gave Osama Bin Laden’s Wives a Big Hug

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A flock of sheep meanders past the hideout of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US Special Forces in a ground operation early May 2, in Abbottabad on May 4, 2011. Pakistan stepped up security in the neighbourhood where Osama bin Laden was killed by US commandos, sealing off the area after crowds had flocked to his one-time villa home. Police closed the Bilal suburb of the relatively well-off garrison town of Abbottabad to media and public, where the Al-Qaeda chief had been living in secrecy in a compound surrounded by towering outer walls. AFP PHOTO/ AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/2011 AFP

This was not the kind of hug meant to console someone after fatally shooting her husband in the chest, although that would also have been a nice gesture, time permitting. No, it was the type of unfathomably selfless hug you give when you suspect someone may be strapped with a suicide vest. From the New Yorker's exhaustive account of the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound:


Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s fifth wife, was screaming in Arabic. She motioned as if she were going to charge; the SEAL lowered his sights and shot her once, in the calf. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him. In the end, neither woman was wearing an explosive vest.

Read the whole piece for more insight into the mission and the SEALs that executed it (like how they had performed raids in Pakistani territory "on ten to twelve previous occasions").

Getting Bin Laden [New Yorker]