The killing of Osama Bin Laden in May of 2011 by SEAL Team Six in Abbotabad, Pakistan immediately became the crowning achievement of the US Special Operations community. However, almost every single detail fed to the public about the raid was completely false aside from the time and place of the operation and that fact that SEAL Team Six killed Bin Laden.

To understand his death, and the SEAL raid which was dubbed “Operation Neptune Spear,” we first have to look into the past. After the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Osama Bin Laden entered into the American psyche as Public Enemy Number One.

Delta Force was deployed to track and and kill Bin Laden, the account of which was described by the Delta ground force commander for the mission in his book “Kill Bin Laden,” but their prey managed to escape the Tora Bora mountains, largely because of the US military’s over reliance on host-nation counterparts to secure the objective’s flanks and rear, and their unwillingness to deploy additional Special Operations and conventional infantry troops to the area.

This opened the door for Bin Laden’s egress from Afghanistan to Pakistan. He was funneled out of the country via a ratline operated by a Afghan named Sabar Lal. After the Tora Bora campaign, Lal continued to participate in terrorist activities in the Pech valley, until he was killed under rather dubious circumstances by SEAL Team Six in September of 2011. Between 2001 and 2011, various parties in the Special Operations and Intelligence community continued the hunt for Bin Laden.

Who first zeroed in on Bin Laden in Abbotabad is sharply contested behind closed doors. Some assert that the first SIGINT hits on Bin Laden’s compound were collected by JSOC’s Intelligence Support Activity, also known as Task Force Orange. Others point to the hard work done by CIA contractors on the ground in Pakistan.

Some of the better intelligence which actually led up to the raid was not collected by the CIA or JSOC, but in fact by private citizens, a little-known, and less understood fact. A team of doctors had established themselves on the Pakistan border and had, over time, cultivated some great sources of information. The endeavor had a public face, none other than Duane “Dewey” Clarridge of the Eclipse Group. Interestingly though, this project was not purely a US government program, but for a long time was actually privately funded by a Texas billionaire well known for financing off-the-books covert operations for various interested parties.

Which party really scored that intelligence touchdown in the War on Terror is something we will return too, but first lets get back to the actual assaulters who conducted the raid.