The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!


My Theory of the Bin Laden Raid: Not all SEALs came by Helicopter

Let me make it clear, I assume that the US government's account of the raid and killing of Osama bin Laden is pretty much true.  I tend strongly not to believe in conspiracies.  That said, there are things about this situation which strike me as very peculiar, and which I would love to have explained, just to appease my curiosity.

Helicopters are very, very loud.  I've had small police helicopters circling hundreds of feet in the air looking for a suspect five blocks away and the noise was incredibly loud and impossible to ignore.  These helicopters at their close range must have been more than ten times that volume.  Surely there must have been some significant amount of time (more than thirty seconds, perhaps more than several minutes) between the time when the house would have been awakened and the time when the first Navy SEALs would have made contact with the people in the house.  It is reported that the SEALs landed outside the compound's walls and breached them to get in, this would have added some extra waking seconds to the lives of the people  inside.  So how is it that only one person in the house had the presence of mind to grab and use a weapon?  They did have weapons.  It was reported that they had three AK-47s and two pistols.  That seems like a curiously small arsenal for this crowd.  Many ordinary citizens in the US have far fewer guns in their modest houses.  And how is it that Osama bin Laden reportedly had an AK-47 in his room and yet did not have it in his hands when the SEALs finally reached him?  Imagine you are Osama Bin Laden.  Your entire life has led up to this moment.  You've been hiding out for ten years, you're so paranoid you built a special house, you communicate with almost no one, you don't have telephone or internet, and you have money and phone numbers sewn into your clothing.  And a small army has finally found and come for you.  You have an AK-47 leaning against the wall in your room, what do you do?  It just seems inconceivable that you do nothing.  My dog wakes me up barking in the middle of the night and I grab my baseball bat from the closet before investigating.  Yet Osama is seen by the SEALs looking over a third floor railing and then retreating back into his room, all unarmed.  The entire time at the compound is reported as 38 minutes, and Osama is reported killed in only the last 5 - 10 minutes.  That means Osama would have been awake and presumably trapped in his upstairs bedroom for 28 - 33 minutes.  That is an incredible amount of time to remain passive and not use an available weapon.  Time elongates in situations like that, those minutes must have passed like hours, affording one plenty of mental time to take some sort of action.

I just have a hard time believing the raid occurred exactly as reported, with the timetable reported, with the people in the compound having so much time to react to what was  happening.  None of that makes sense to me.

It has been reported that the CIA set up a safe house late last summer just to observe and report on the location where the raid took place, gleaning what they could.  Who knows how many people they stationed there, who else they could have smuggled in there.  And who knows how much they learned.  Nine months is an awfully long time to wait and watch, to prepare.

Personally my very strong suspicion is that the raid included a component of SEALs (or other) who did not arrive by helicopter.  If you have a demonstrated ability to place people at the location by conventional means, and they can silently slip up to the building without being detected, why choose instead to first announce your presence with helicopters?  This better fits the facts, for me.  You send a team on the ground to breach the compound and initiate the raid, then you send in additional SEALs to assist and ultimately extract your soldiers.  That would explain (to me) how they caught everyone in the house so unaware, how nobody had time to react as one might expect them to.  And that wouldn't fall under the definition of conspiracy, just good warfighting or spycraft.  And it wouldn't really qualify as a lie to the American people so much as a reasonable state secret.

On another note, I can't escape the feeling that the killing of Bin Laden must have been mildly, tacitly encouraged.  If he were capture alive it would be a nightmare.  Politically, legally, terroristically...  If he were held prisoner Al Qaeda would have surely carried out attack after attack seeking his release.  But dead, those dangers are all rendered moot.  There is an increased risk that he becomes a martyr, but surely that would come in some form either way, killed via court order or in a SEAL raid.  I don't say that the government would say, "Make sure you don't bring him back alive."  But I can imagine them saying, "Take absolutely no unnecessary risks, if he appears to put up even the slightest bit of resistance do what you need to do to protect yourself."  And that's fine, and for the sake of the lives of the SEALs involved I am glad they would be encouraged to protect themselves, but with multiple wars going on and soldier's lives willfully lost left and right in less noble actions, attacking less important targets, it seems almost certain to me there was no insistence that Osama bin Laden be taken alive.  And I'm not arguing that that's good or bad, just observing that it seemed to be.

And one minor observation.  I know almost nothing of SEAL tactics, but given that they were concerned about bombs, weapons, hidden passages, etc. one can imagine they would have focused on clearing the entire structure of people and potential dangers before turning their attention to recovering things like computers, hard drives, thumb drives, etc.  I imagine there would be so moment when it's announced on the radio that everything has been cleared and they would shift their focus to recovering what informational assets they could.  If the official story was exactly true, Osama was only killed in the last 5 - 10 minutes of the raid that would not have allowed them much time to find and grab these informational items.  Given the monumental importance of the data, the resourcefulness Bin Laden has been credited with, I would have thought they would have done more to secure what might have been present.  But, perhaps there was nothing more they could do.

Whatever the case I am perpetually amazed at the relative restraint of soldiers (and police) who are required to do what I do not feel I could, enter a hostile environment where your life is on the line and make instant and permanent determinations of friend and foe (or in this case, lesser and greater foe).  I may feel a bit uncomfortable with our prosecuting many of the wars the way we do, I am very thankful that good men so often do the very best they can.

^ Quinxy



I found a link with some interesting information on acoustically stealthy helicopter development, including the commercial Blue Edge blades of the Eurocopter.  So, perhaps you could sneak up on someone with a helicopter...  I'm still confused about how Bin Laden could have remained unarmed until his death, the shortest time I've seen indicated between when the helicopters arrived, when one crashed, when they started breaching the compound walls with explosives, and engaging the people in the compound was 15 minutes, which is still a profoundly long time not to have picked up one of two weapons only feet from you.  Assuming they cut the power to the compound before going in, and assuming he had no lights, perhaps he didn't remember/realize his weapons were near at hand, that's about the only explanation I can think of.