WASHINGTON // Osama bin Laden was shot in the head as he peered out of a door and then pumped with bullets as he convulsed on the floor, according to a book written by a member of the US commando team that killed him.
The book, No Easy Day, says bin Laden was unarmed when Navy Seals discovered him during the raid on his Pakistani compound.
On the shelf behind the Al Qaeda leader's bedroom door was an unloaded AK-47 and a Makarov pistol.
"He hadn't even prepared a defence," wrote the author Matt Bissonnette, 36, whose pseudonym is Mark Owen.
"He had no intention of fighting. He asked his followers for decades to wear suicide vests or fly planes into buildings, but he didn't even pick up his weapon."
In the first published account by a participant in the raid on May 2, 2011, Bissonnette wrote that Navy Seals battled their way for at least 15 minutes through bin Laden's home, killing one of his sons and two associates, before reaching the third floor.
Bissonnette said he crouched behind the point man going up the stairs in the dark hallway. He heard two shots fired by the first Seal into the hallway. He wrote that the Seal in front of him had seen a dark-bearded man peeking out of a door on the right side of the hallway, but Bissonnette could not tell from his vantage point whether the bullets hit the target.
The man, Bissonnette wrote, ducked back into his bedroom and the Seals followed, believing they could be walking into an ambush - "he had plenty of time to strap on a suicide vest or simply get his gun". What they found was the man crumpled on the floor at the foot a bed with a hole visible on the right side of his head, "blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull".
Two women were wailing over his body. The point man shoved the two women out of the way. He and the other Seals fired a series of rounds into bin Laden's still-twitching body until it stopped. Once they wiped the blood off his face, only then they were convinced it was bin Laden.
Elsewhere in the book, Bissonnette wrote that none of the Seals were fans of President Barack Obama.
At the same time, Bissonnette credits Mr Obama for having the courage to order the raid, and he describes being impressed by the president's understated speech announcing the Al Qaeda leader's death to the world. "We respected him as the commander-in-chief of the military and for giving us the green light on the mission," he added.
In a CBS Evening News clip from a segment of the news magazine 60 Minutes scheduled to air on Sunday, Bissonnette said the book was not intended to be political. "You know, if these crazies on either side of the aisle want to make it political, shame on them," he said. "This is a book about September 11 and it needs to rest on September 11, not be brought into the political arena."
Bissonnette insists in an author's note that he revealed no classified information in the book. He says he took "great pains to protect the tactics, techniques and procedures" of US Special Forces teams and to conceal the identities of his active-duty comrades.
In the administration's version of events, the lead commando's shot in the stairwell missed, and the Seals confronted bin Laden in the bedroom, killing him with one shot to the chest and another above the left eye. Most military and administration officials declined to comment yesterday.
The question of whether the terrorist leader would be killed or captured came up in briefings, Bissonnette writes. At one point, a government lawyer made clear that "this wasn't an assassination", the author says.
No Easy Day, to be released on Tuesday, is currently No. 1 on the best-seller lists at Amazon.com and BN.com.
* With additional reporting by Associated Press and Agence-France Presse