Less than 18 minutes into the 38-minute raid, came the crucial moment.
Navy seals had fought their way through Osama bin Laden's compound, killed his courier, the courier's brother and bin laden's son. They'd blasted through cage-like metal gates on the stairways.
As a small team of seals reached the third floor, one of them turned to his right.
"He sees this tall individual poking his head out the door, tall individual with a fist-length beard."
The seal, says Nicholas Schmidle, instantly sensed that was bin Laden.
Schmidle's article in the 'New Yorker' magazine presents nuanced, riveting new details of the bin Laden raid. He bases his reporting on sourced conversations with special operations officers who had intimate knowledge of the raid. Schmidle says he did not speak directly with seals who carried out the mission. The seals' identities are classified.
Some of this detail had already been reported by CNN.
Schmidle writes that, when the seals rushed down the hall and into that room two of bin Laden's wives had placed themselves between the seals and bin Laden.
Newly-reported by Schmidle: an account of how the first seal into the room had to act in a split-second when he encountered bin Laden's youngest wife, Amal.
"Amal is yelling hysterically and begins to approach the first seal. And the concern is that they're wearing suicide explosive vests. And so he shoots Amal once in the calf to disable her and then proceeds to grab Amal and the other woman, wrap them in a bear-hug and turn his back to the seals and sort of push them off to the side."
Reporter: And he holds them there. Why does he do that?
"He holds them so that if they explode and blow up, that he'll soak up the impact of that blast and the mission can go on behind him."
Reporter: He knows he'll die in the process.
There were no suicide-vests on the women.
Then a second seal moved into the room, according to Schmidle, raised his M4 rifle, trained an infra-red laser on Osama bin Laden's chest.
Reporter: Is there anything said at that moment?
"There's nothing said. I asked and asked and asked and I kind of wondered if there was some 'Dirty Harry moment'. There simply wasn't. It was all split-second...shoots bin Laden once in the chest, and then bin Laden begins falling back, shoots him once above the left eye, then bin Laden falls down and he steps up and says on the radio 'for God and country: Geronimo- Geronimo- Geronimo."
'Geronimo' was the code word for the fact that bin Laden had been sighted.
Schmidle says a few days later, when President Obama met with the seal team at Fort Campbell, KY, he spoke with the team and thanked them. But he writes that the president never asked which seal fired the kill-shot, and the seals never volunteered that information.
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