Five years ago, Rob O’Neill chomped on a sandwich watching television at Bagram Airfield. Usama bin Laden’s dead body lay on a table next to him.
O’Neill was the reason bin Laden lay lifeless on that table May 1, 2011. He explained the details of the death of the world’s most notorious terrorist in a matter-of-fact manner years later to relatives of 9/11 victims.
“I explained how I went into a room and I saw him and he was standing 3 feet in front of me and he was a threat and I shot him,” O’Neill said Sunday on "Fox and Friends."
O’Neill said he and his fellow Seal Team 6 members were still in the uniforms they wore on the mission when President Obama announced the death on television.
“I heard him say Usama bin Laden, I looked at Usama bin Laden – I thought, ‘How in the world did I get here from Butte, Montana?’” O’Neill said.
Even half a decade after bin Laden was taken out, little-known information about the operation and the hunt that led up to it is trickling in. O’Neill revealed Sunday that the much-publicized kidney ailment bin Laden was said to have and the dialysis machine he was said to have with him were merely counterintelligence myths propagated to weed out sources that were lying.
Bin Laden's death, however, has not decreased the threat from Islamists.
John Brennan was the chief counterterrorism adviser to President Obama when O’Neill’s elite team stormed bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Brennan is now the CIA director and faces a new nemesis, ISIS, and a new wily figurehead, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“He’s important and we will destroy ISIL, I have no doubt in my mind,” Brennan said Sunday on "Meet the Press." “Bin Laden had important symbolism and, if we got Baghdadi. it would have great impact on the organization. We’re going to have to remain very focused.”
Brennan recalled the outpouring of emotion that greeted the announcement of bin Laden’s death.
“I remember that same evening, the chants of “USA” and “CIA,” culmination of hard work,” Brennan said. “We had destroyed a large part of Al Qaeda.”
But Al Qaeda, however much diminished, has survived bin Laden’s death and is joined in its destructive efforts by ISIS.
“This new phenomenon of ISIS — this will continue to challenge for years to come,” Brennan said.