SEAL Team 6 members, as portrayed in 'Zero Dark Thirty' (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
We still don't know his true identity, but, for the first time ever, we are hearing from the man directly responsible for the death of al Qaeda and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. He is only identified as "The Shooter" by Esquire Magazine writer Phil Bronstein. And the Shooter is the SEAL Team 6 member who shot bin Laden dead on May 2, 2011.
After the Shooter returned from his mission, he gave the CIA operative -- portrayed by Jessica Chastain as "Maya" in the film, and whose identity is not public -- the magazine from his gun as a souvenir. It didn't happen that way in the movie, nor did Chastain cry upon seeing bin Laden's body. But the Shooter says the female operative responsible for finding the terrorist leader did, in fact, cry in that moment.
Over the past year, Bronstein spent time on-and-off with the military operative -- hanging out with him in his back yard and even going to see the Oscar-nominated film that is based, in part, on his life.
After the two screened "Zero Dark Thirty" in January, the shooter shared a lot of gripes. But he also said Jessica Chastain's portrayal of CIA terrorist tracker "Maya" was "awesome." "They made her a tough woman, which she is," he said.
Upon his team's return from the mission, he said he showed "Maya" bin Laden's body, and she literally wept...
While they were still checking the body, I brought the agency woman over. I still had all my stuff on. We looked down and I asked, 'Is that your guy?' She was crying. That's when I took my magazine out of my gun and gave it to her as a souvenir. Twenty-seven bullets left in it. 'I hope you have room in your backpack for this.' That was the last time I saw her.
The Esquire article covers the Shooter's post-military life at length. There are a lot of eye opening revelations -- including the fact that he is having financial trouble and finds it challenging to provide for his family and also keep them safe from potential retaliation. He also offers birds-eye insight into the now-famed operation that took place in Abbottabad, Pakistan, almost two years ago.
Here are the Shooter's gripes with "Zero Dark Thirty" in his own words:
"Are you f---ing kidding me? Shut up!" This is what the Shooter said to the screen when a Navy SEAL team character yells "Breacher!" He later explains to Bronstein that no one would ever yell that during an assault and that "deadly silence" is standard practice. A hand signal would have sufficed.
The Shooter laughs... when the screen reads, "Based on firsthand accounts of actual events," at the beginning of the film.
"The tattoo scene was horrible... Those guys had little skulls or something instead of having some real ink that goes up to here." The Shooter points to a tattoo on his shoulder blade as he says this.
"It was fun to watch. There was just little stuff. The helos turned the wrong way [toward the target], and they talked way, way too much [during the assault itself]. If someone was waiting for you, they could track your movements that way."
The tactics on the screen "sucked," he says, and "the mission in the da-- movie took way too long."
"When Osama went down, it was chaos, people screaming. No one called his name." The Shooter says there was no whispering of bin Laden's name -- as is portrayed in the film.
"They Hollywooded it up some." The Shooter's overall assessment.
Other small discrepancies the Shooter caught in "Zero Dark Thirty" include the fact that the stairs inside bin Laden's compound were configured inaccurately, the German Shepard in the film was actually a Belgian Malinois and no one spoke -- even inside the choppers.
Watch 'Zero Dark Thirty' Trailer:
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- Jessica Chastain
- Osama bin Laden