SEAL: Bin Laden raid not a kill-only mission

Navy SEALs assaulting Osama bin Laden's compound were told to capture the al Qaeda leader if possible, says retired member of SEAL Team 6 known by pseudonym "Mark Owen"

(CBS News) Navy SEALs assaulting Osama bin Laden's compound were told to capture the al Qaeda leader if possible, says the retired member of SEAL Team 6 who has written a book about his role in the daring raid. The mission was "not a kill-only" operation, says the former commando, who uses the pseudonym "Mark Owen," in a 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley to be broadcast Sunday, Sept. 9 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT. Excerpts from the interview, in which he also describes the crash-landing of his helicopter in the compound's yard, appeared on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.

CBS News will not identify "Owen" for security reasons. A makeup artist was employed to disguise his appearance and sound manipulation was used to mask his real voice for his 60 Minutes interview. His book, "No Easy Day," went on sale Tuesday. Below is an excerpt from his interview with Pelley:

Scott Pelley: Was the plan to kill Osama bin Laden or capture him, before you went in?

Mark Owen: This was absolutely not a kill-only mission. It was made very clear to us throughout our training for this that, "Hey, if given the opportunity, this is not an assassination. You will capture him alive... if feasible."

Pelley : That was the preferred thing?

Owen : Yes.

Pelley : To take him alive, if you could?

Owen: Yeah, yeah. I mean, we're not there to assassinate somebody. We weren't sent in to murder him. This was, "Hey, kill or capture."

They would fly from Afghanistan in two modified Black Hawk helicopters to bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Pakistan didn't know they were coming so the helicopters, flown by the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, flew at tree-top level on a moonless night to avoid Pakistani air defenses. They reached the target and prepared to slide down ropes into the compound when everything went wrong in Owen's chopper.

Owen: And then, all of a sudden, we banked hard 90 degrees, and then we-- once we went hard 90-- it was very apparent that something was wrong.

Something about the downdraft hitting the complex of walls below caused the heavily loaded helicopter to falter in the air.

Owen: These pilots are the best in the world. You don't get better than these guys. And, typically they just, boom, they move right in and they stick it. It was like parking a car for these guys. And it was a rough ride. So something was obviously going on.

Owen: Tail rotor and everything happened to miss this wall here. And then we were just kind of sliding and falling out of the sky this way. At this point, I was pretty sure we're-- definitely going in.

Pelley: Going to crash?

Owen: Yeah.

Pelley : As the helicopter is going down, what were you thinking?

Owen: "This is going to suck." You know? "Hey, wow."

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