Users on several militant Islamic websites affiliated with al-Qaida have posted the name and photo of a former Navy SEAL identified as the author of an upcoming book on the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The posts called for his "destruction" in revenge for the al-Qaida founder’s killing.
"We pray to Allah for his destruction sooner rather than later," said one of the posts.
"Oh Allah, make an example of him for the whole world and give him dark days ahead," read another.
Among the website publishing the death threats was the "Al-Fidaa" web forum, which al-Qaida uses to distribute its media and public communications, said Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News consultant and a terrorism analyst at Flashpoint Partners, a global security firm.
The source of the photo, which appears to show a special operations soldier in leveling an automatic rifle during a training exercise, was not immediately clear.
"Here is the first picture of the dog who murdered the martyr Shaykh Usama Bin Laden," wrote one of the posters, using an alternate spelling of bin Laden's name. "May Allah have mercy on him."
Fox News on Thursday identified the author of the book, which is titled "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden," as a 36-year-old former SEAL from Wrangell, Alaska. The Associated Press later said it had confirmed the author’s identity. (NBC News is not identifying the former SEAL.)
Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint, the publisher, asked news organizations Thursday to withhold his identity.
"Sharing the true story of his personal experience in 'No Easy Day' is a courageous act in the face of obvious risks to his personal security," Dutton spokeswoman Christine Ball said in a statement to the AP. "That personal security is the sole reason the book is being published under a pseudonym."
In addition to death threats, the author faces legal jeopardy over his decision not to seek pre-publication review by Pentagon officials of his account of the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, as he was obligated to do under an agreement he signed as a condition of employment.
On Thursday, the ex-SEAL’s former commander, special operations chief Adm. Bill McRaven warned his troops, current and former, that he would take legal action against anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could cause fellow forces harm.
"We will pursue every option available to hold members accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate," the four-star commander wrote, in an open, unclassified letter emailed to the active-duty special operations community Thursday, and obtained by The Associated Press.
The author of "No Easy Day" is slated to appear on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" on Sept. 9, though it is not clear whether he will identified by his real name. The book is already listed as one of the top 10 books on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.