Capturing Osama Bin Laden Never Gets Old


close up of man facing camera wearing night vision googles to illustrate blog post about movies and capturing osama bin laden

Updated: May 2, 2021

I thought we’d celebrate a very odd anniversary on the blog this week: May 2nd marked the seventh anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011. To reflect properly on that epic manhunt — and, of course, the events of 9/11 that triggered the frustrating ten-year search — let’s take a look back at one fictional movie and two documentaries that chronicle the events of the hunt for bin Laden and the eventual raid in on his hidden-in-plain-sight secret compound in Pakistan.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Best Picture Oscar in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. It tells the story of the CIA’s hunt for bin Laden through the eyes of a fictional CIA analyst named Maya and ends with SEAL Team Six raiding his compound in Pakistan. Despite the story’s dramatization in parts, Zero Dark Thirty feels gritty and accurate and I share many critics’ view that it’s a must-see.

Watch the trailer for Zero Dark Thirty here:

60 Minutes Presents: Killing bin Laden 

In this 2013 special report from CBS’s 60 Minutes, anchor Scott Pelley interviews one of the members of SEAL Team 6 who killed bin Laden for a minute-by-minute, you-were-there recounting of Operation Neptune Spear.

Watch the entire episode of 60 Minutes Presents: Killing bin Laden here:

SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden (2012)

This made-for-TV movie was produced by National Geographic and has the feel of a documentary even though it uses actors and was filmed in India. The critics were mixed about this one but honestly, what’s not to love and admire about the SEALs?

Watch the trailer for SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden here: