Robert O’Neill has been identified as the “highly decorated” Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden dead during the famous 2011 special forces operation in Pakistan, according to the Daily Mail.
After Wednesday's Daily Mail report, the Washington Post followed with an interview with O'Neill, who said he was coming forward because his identity, once a tightly held secret, had spread among military members and members of Congress, and was known by at least two news organizations.
Both reports came ahead of an interview with Fox News set to air next week, in which the former SEAL was set to publicly reveal himself for the first time.
Former Navy SEAL Robert O'Neill says he is the one who fatally shot Osama bin Laden. (Image source: Twitter)
In an interview with O’Neill’s father, Tom, the Daily Mail asked whether he is afraid that Islamic State terrorists will now come after his son or his family. His response was seemingly both defiant and fearless.
“I say I'll paint a big target on my front door and say come and get us,” he replied.
His son, a 38-year-old military veteran, a former member of the Navy's legendary SEAL Team 6, is “one of the most distinguished members ever of the elite force,” the Daily Mail said. O'Neill reportedly served more than 12 tours of duty in active combat and took part in 400 additional combat missions.
In addition to firing three deadly shots into bin Laden’s forehead at close range in the 2011 raid in Pakistan, O’Neill has had an astonishing military career.
Former Navy SEAL Robert O'Neill (Image source: Twitter)
The Daily Mail has more on his military background:
He was the lead jumper on the Maersk Alabama, the ship taken over by Somali pirates, whose rescue turned into the Oscar-winning movie Captain Phillips.
He helped save SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the one man who lived to tell of a failed mission to capture a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. That made it to the big screen as 'Lone Survivor.'
'He is still friendly with Marcus, they had dinner together just the other day,' said his father.
And then there was 'Zero Dark Thirty,' the Oscar-nominated story of bin Laden's killing.
Despite his outstanding service to his country, O’Neill reportedly faces possible legal action for speaking out about his career as a Navy SEAL. According to the Daily Mail, he also decided to go public in part after he lost some of his military benefits because he left the SEALs four years before completing his full 20 years of service.
He is the second member of the SEAL team involved in the raid to go public.
Read the Daily Mail’s entire exclusive report here.
Editor's note: This post was updated Thursday after the Washington Post's interview.