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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 26th, 2013
06:02 PM ET

CNN exclusive: New details emerge on who really shot Osama bin Laden

The killing of Osama bin Laden was the greatest victory in the war on terror, turning the SEALs that took out bin Laden, members of Seal Team Six, into instant legends.

But even President Obama says he does not know the answer to one critical question: Who delivered the shot that killed Osama bin Laden?

The members of Seal Team Six splintered, several of them offering different accounts of what went down inside bin Laden's complex that night.

First up was "Mark Owens," in disguise on "60 Minutes." His account, as described in his book  "No Easy Day," has him spotting bin Laden's head poking out from a door frame. Another SEAL he dubs "the point man" fired the first shot, then rushed into the room and tackled bin Laden's wives. Owen says he then shot bin Laden.

Then a new SEAL - this time not in disguise but invisible - emerged on the cover of Esquire magazine last month, claiming that he, in fact, was the shooter. According to him, he stared bin Laden down face-to-face, and shot him in the forehead when he saw bin Laden reaching for a gun.

Now, a story of heroism has devolved into finger-pointing and calls of fraud, as a third Seal Team Six member comes forward, telling his side of the story to one of the few journalists to ever meet Osama bin Laden, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.

The Seal Team Six member Bergen spoke to disputes the Esquire magazine account.

"The SEAL team member I spoke to said that's completely false, bin Laden couldn't have reached for a gun because his guns were somewhere else, which they only found later," Bergen says.

"Of course this all happened at night, they were all wearing night vision goggles. There was no electricity in the building or the neighborhood, it is a confusing situation," says Bergen. "That said, there seems to be a preponderance of people saying that the "Esquire" account is not an accurate account."

The story that is gaining traction, says Bergen, is one that is "much less heroic than the others."

"The people pushing what they say is the real account is the one that isn't that heroic, where bin Laden is sort of finished off on the floor, a lucky shot, as opposed to a man-to-man," says Bergen.

Members of Seal Team Six are not supposed to be talking about that night at all. The SEALS involved in the raid that killed bin Laden signed non-disclosure agreements, and belong to a unit that is supposedly covert, says Bergen.

But those same members "had a Neil Armstrong moment," says Bergen.

"How do you deal with that? Some people deal with it by saying nothing," says Bergen. "Others by saying something which may turn out to be inaccurate."

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