WASHINGTON - (AP) - Only one of the five people killed in the raidthat got Osama bin Laden was armed and fired any shots, a seniorU.S. defense official said Thursday, acknowledging that the newaccount differs greatly from original administration portrayals ofa chaotic, intense and prolonged firefight.
The sole shooter in the al-Qaida leader's Pakistani compound wasquickly killed in the early minutes of the commando operation,before the Navy SEALs assault team swept through the house and shotthe others, the official said. The details have become clearer nowthat the assault team has been debriefed, the official said,speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized tospeak on the record.
He said the raid should be described as a precision,floor-by-floor operation to hunt and find the al-Qaida leader andhis protectors, rather than as it has been portrayed by asuccession of Obama administration briefers since bin Laden's deathwas announced Sunday night.
In another development, aviation experts said a helicopter usedin the assault appeared to be a stealthier, top secret andnever-before-seen version of a routinely used special opshelicopter. The helicopter made a hard landing and was destroyed bythe military team at the site, leaving behind wreckage for expertsto analyze.
As the SEALs moved into bin Laden's compound, they were fired onby bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who was in theguesthouse, the senior defense official said. The SEALs returnedfire, and the courier was killed, along with a woman with him. Shewas hit in the crossfire, the official said.
The Americans were never fired on again as they encountered andkilled a man on the first floor and then bin Laden's son on astaircase, before arriving at bin Laden's room. Officials have saidbin Laden was killed after he appeared to be lunging for a weapon.NBC News, which was first to report that four of the five peoplekilled were unarmed, said the majority of the operation was spentgathering up the compound's computers, hard drives, cellphones andother items that could provide valuable intelligence on al-Qaidaand potential operations worldwide.
Those materials have been taken to the FBI lab at the MarineCorps base at Quantico, Va., the defense official said.VIDEO: President Obama announces Osama bin Laden's death