Posted at 10:53 AM ET, 05/02/2011

Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden are from the elite ‘Team 6’


A U.S. Navy SEAL member provides cover for his teammates advancing on a suspected location of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, Jan. 26, 2002. No current photos of the Navy SEALs team that killed Osama bin Laden exist, as they operate in absolute secrecy. (REUTERS)
Years of hunting down the world’s most wanted terrorist ended Sunday afternoon when a CIA-led Navy SEALs squadron of just a few dozen men stormed Osama bin Laden's compound and killed him. 

The elite team of Navy SEALs tapped for the job were a group who were stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

The team is part of a counterterrorism group so specialized that no one can apply to join it. The operatives are recruited from existing SEAL teams. They are an elite group within the elite.

The team was formed in response to the 1980 American hostages rescue attempt in Iran, which had been a huge failure and showed the need for a counterterrorist team that could operate under the utmost secrecy.

They exist outside military protocol and engage in operations that are at the highest level of classification and often outside the boundaries of international law.

Initially, the group was known as Team 6, a name that was created to confuse Soviet intelligence about the number of SEAL teams in operation at the time. (There were only two others.)

The name was changed in 1987 to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but the group is still commonly known as Team 6.

Team 6 has hunted down major al-Qaeda and Taliban figures since 2001, and also operated in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Members are not allowed to talk about the elite group at all.

When Business Insider contacted a former Navy Seal, he said: “You know I'd love to help you man, but I can't say a word about Team 6. There is no Team 6.”

See the U.S. Navy Seals Facebook page here, where congratulaion notes are appearing once a minute.

By  |  10:53 AM ET, 05/02/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company