* Military pledges "to hold members accountable"
* Name, photograph posted on al Qaeda website
By Andrea Shalal-Esa and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON, Aug 24 The former U.S. Navy SEAL who
authored a soon-to-be-published book about the raid that killed
Osama bin Laden is now facing threats against his life in
addition to possible criminal prosecution.
An official al Qaeda website on Friday posted a photograph
and the name of the former Navy commando responsible for the
book, calling him "the dog who murdered the martyr Sheikh Osama
The head of U.S. Special Operations Command told current and
former troops that the military would take legal action against
anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could
cause harm to fellow forces.
"We will pursue every option available to hold members
accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate,"
Admiral Bill McRaven wrote in an open, unclassified letter
emailed to the active-duty special operations community, and
obtained by Reuters on Friday.
"As current or former members of our special operations
community, authors have a moral obligation, and a legal duty, to
submit their works for pre-publication security review," the
Fox News made public on Thursday what it said was the real
name of the former SEAL who, with a journalist co-author, wrote
"No Easy Day," using the pseudonym Mark Owen. The book is due to
be released next month on the anniversary of the Sept. 11
attacks on the United States.
By early on Friday, the man's name, photograph and age had
been posted on the "the Al-Fidaa Islamic Network" online forum,
one of two websites officially endorsed by al Qaeda, according
to Evan Kohlmann, founder of the New York-based security firm
Flashpoint Global Partners.
It was followed by comments that called for the man's death,
including one response that said, "O' Allah, kill every one of
them," and another that said, "O' Allah, make an example of him
for the whole world and give him dark days ahead."
The Navy SEAL was also identified by other U.S. media.
Reuters has confirmed his name but is not publishing it, given
concerns about his safety.
U.S. military officials have said the former Navy SEAL could
face investigation because he failed to clear the book with the
Defense Department before publication, even if it does not
disclose specific classified details.
McRaven's letter said books and films about special
operations teams could be useful educational tools, and the
military would work with potential authors, but current and
former service members would be held accountable if they
endangered the safety of U.S. forces.
He said there was "a distinct line between recounting a
story for the purposes of education or entertainment and telling
a story that exposes sensitive activities just to garner greater
readership and personal profit."
Kohlmann said the former Navy SEAL could now be in physical
danger from al Qaeda sympathizers seeking revenge for bin
Laden's death, or hoping to gain prestige for themselves.
"They have a photo of the individual, they have his name,
his age," Kohlmann said. "I wish that all this was bluster, but
there are a lot of would-be jihadists out there, including some
in North America. This is the ideal opportunity for those kind
The book's publisher, Dutton, said the author was "one of
the first men through the door on the third floor of the
terrorist leader's hideout and was present at his death."
It is not known whether "No Easy Day" contains details of
commando operations that the U.S. government considers secret,
but U.S. government officials said the account had not been
submitted for a required pre-publication review.
"Even if there is nothing classified disclosed, it should
have been reviewed, and it was not," said one official who spoke
on condition of anonymity.
On Wednesday, the publisher said the book had been vetted
"for tactical, technical, and procedural information as well as
information that could be considered classified by compilation"
by a former "special operations attorney."
Jeffrey Carr, a cyber security expert, said al Qaeda
officials were adept at using the Internet for recruitment,
training and other searches, and he fully expected them to
target the former Navy SEAL now that his identity had been
"He's going to become the poster child for recruitment and
assassination," Carr said, noting that the case underscored the
need for anyone in a high-risk profession to take great
precautions with any information available on the Internet.
Carr said the man's relatives and former Navy SEAL
colleagues could also be in danger if they could be traced
through the Internet.
(Additional reporting by Jim Finkle and Mark Hosenball; Editing
by Peter Cooney)