The former Navy Seal known for his role in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden has hit out at Donald Trump for sharing a conspiracy theory that the late al-Qaeda leader may still be alive.
Rob O’Neill, who says he shot dead bin Laden in the 2011 raid in Pakistan, expressed anger that the president retweeted a QAnon theory that the Seal team killed a body double.
Mr O'Neill, 44, a Republican and vocal Trump supporter, voiced his disgust on Wednesday that the "highest-ranking person in the country” would be “trampling on the graves of some of the best heroes” by claiming the team had not killed bin Laden.
“He (Mr Trump) could go over to the CIA any time where there’s a file cabinet with a picture of bin Laden’s head and my hands in the picture. We took a bunch of pictures of him,” Mr O’Neill said, in his first public criticism of the president.
Asked by CNN about the rumours that have been circulating and given prominence by Mr Trump, Mr O’Neill said this was “bigger than a retweet”.
“What these conspiracy theories thrown around do to politics is an insult to real people, it’s a shame we have gotten here because of politics,” he said.
One of tweets the president retweeted read, “Hiden Biden and Obama may have had Seal Team 6 killed! EXPLOSIVE: CIA Whistleblower Exposes Biden’s Alleged Role with the Deaths of Seal Team- Claims to have Documented Proof. RETWEET!!!”
The account was later suspended.
“I want to say that every man is alive [who was on that mission],” he told CNN, pushing back against suggestions the team had made a mistake with bin Laden's DNA and that they hand flown the body of the double into the mountains to hide the mistake.
QAnon is a wide-ranging, unfounded conspiracy theory that says that Mr Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media.
Mr Trump has been known in the past to share theories held by online QAnon espousers.