Bin Laden wanted poster 311 R.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday he had decided not
to release photos of the corpse of Osama bin Laden, despite calls for their
publication and accusations that the al-Qaida leader was not really
Obama cited national security concerns as chief among the reasons
for his verdict on what has become a contentious issue in the wake of a US
helicopter raid on bin Laden’s Pakistani compound on Sunday.
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important for us to be sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in
the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, or as
a propaganda tool,” Obama told CBS. “That’s not who we are.
We don’t trot
out this stuff as trophies.”
He added, “Given the graphic nature of these
photos, it would create some national security risk.”
Families of the
victims of al- Qaida’s terrorist attacks have been urging the release of the
photos of bin Laden, whom US officials saw had been shot in the head, to provide
a measure of closure. At the same time, al- Qaida sympathizers abroad have
charged the US with orchestrating a conspiracy and are demanding further proof
of bin Laden’s death.
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The White House said facial recognition and DNA
testing had proved bin Laden’s identity, but that further details of those
procedures would not be released. Bin Laden was buried at sea soon after his
death, in accordance with the Muslim practice of burying the dead within 24
“We are absolutely certain that this was him,” Obama said. “There
is no doubt among al-Qaida members that he is dead, so we don’t think that a
photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference.
going to be some folks that deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see
bin Laden walking on this earth again.”
The Obama administration also
pushed back against charges that the country hadn’t followed the proper rules of
engagement related to laws of war, as bin Laden was not holding a gun when he
The White House corrected earlier reports on Tuesday that he
had been armed, but has continued to maintain that he resisted when confronted
by the US Navy SEALs who took control of his hiding place early on
“The operation was planned so that the team was prepared and had
the means to take bin Laden into custody. There’s simply no question that this
operation was lawful,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday,
pointing to the roles played by bin Laden and al-Qaida in plotting mass terror
attacks against Americans.
“The operation was conducted in a way to
minimize – and avoid altogether – if possible, civilian casualties,” he added.
“That was done at great risk to Americans.”
US Attorney-General Eric
Holder made a similar point in testimony before Congress on
“It was justified as an act of national selfdefense,” Holder
said. “If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should
obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do
that, and therefore his killing was appropriate.”
On Tuesday afternoon,
the Obama administration condemned comments from Hamas criticizing the US for
striking at bin Laden and referring to him as a martyr.
outrageous,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said of the
“It goes without saying, bin Laden was a murderer and a
terrorist. He ordered the killings of thousands of innocent men, women and
children – and many of whom were Muslim.”
Toner continued by saying the
al-Qaida leader was no martyr.
“He died hiding in a mansion or a compound
far away from the violence that was carried out in his name. And his defeat is a
victory for all human beings seeking to live in peace, security and dignity,” he
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