London, May 5: US commandos were told to assume Osama bin Laden was wearing a suicide vest, and must be killed, unless he was naked when they found him, The Daily Telegraph reported .
Osama bin Laden was to be treated as a suicide bomber unless he was naked, US officials have said The assault team sent into his hideout would only have accepted surrender if they could be sure he had nothing hidden under his clothing, meaning his fate was sealed as soon as he was found in his bedclothes.
The admission by John Brennan, the chief US counter-terrorism adviser, will add to the growing belief that the planners of Operation Geronimo had no real intention of taking the al-Qaeda leader alive.
Military analysts have said the tactics of the helicopter-borne attack on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, bear all the hallmarks of a “kill raid” as the noise of the approaching choppers virtually guaranteed a firefight which would justify shooting any targets.
And whilst Brennan has previously said the US Navy Seal team that carried out the raid was “able and prepared” to take bin Laden alive “if we had the opportunity”, he has now admitted that there virtually no circumstances in which that would have been possible.
He said surrender was only an option if bin Laden “did not pose any type of threat whatsoever” and if the Seals “were confident of that in terms of his not having an IED (improvised explosive device) on his body, his not having some type of hidden weapon or whatever”.
Other US officials later said bin Laden would have had to have been naked for the Seals to allow him to surrender. Instead, he was shot twice in the head in a so-called “double tap”, which is typically used to kill suicide bombers as it ensures instant death, with no risk of them being able to detonate their device.
On Monday, Brennan had claimed that bin Laden was armed when he was shot, with other sources suggesting he had been shooting at the Seals. The next day the White House spokesman Jay Carney said bin Laden was unarmed but “resisting”.
Brennan's latest statements called into question whether bin Laden had been “resisting” at all, or whether it was simply the fact that he was clothed that was enough to determine his fate.
Leon Panetta, the CIA director, said he did not believe bin Laden had a chance to speak before he was shot dead.“To be frank, I don't think he had a lot of time to say anything,” he said.
Another US official said the first Seal to confront bin Laden perceived him to be hostile. “He was not lying on the floor trying to surrender,” the source said. “He was resisting.”
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, defended the decision to kill bin Laden, saying the Seals had to assume the entire building might have been booby-trapped with explosives.“They didn't know if he had his finger on a button,” he said. “Think of all the things that are possible with someone who has killed 3,000 people.”
Many commentators have also pointed out that if bin Laden had been taken alive, US citizens would almost certainly have been taken hostage by terrorist groups demanding his release.
Meanwhile a daughter of bin Laden who was taken into custody following the raid has reportedly claimed that her father was executed after being taken into custody.
The Arabic news network Al-Arabiya said senior Pakistani security officials had debriefed the 12-year-old girl, who told them bin Laden was captured alive but then shot dead in front of his family.Another woman taken into custody from the compound is said to have told her captors that bin Laden only moved there five or six months ago.