Osama bin Laden death conspiracy theories

Osama bin Laden death conspiracy theories

The death of Osama bin Laden gave rise to various conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and rumors.[1] These include the ideas that bin Laden had been dead for years, or is still alive. Doubts about bin Laden's death were fueled by the U.S. military's disposal of his body at sea,[2] the decision to not release photographic evidence of bin Laden's death, the official story on the raid at the Abbottabad compound have changed or directly contradicts previous assertions,[3] and the 25-minute blackout during the raid on bin Laden's compound during which a live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the U.S. special forces was cut off.[4][5]

On May 2, 2011, an image purporting to show a dead bin Laden was broadcast on Pakistani television. Though the story was picked up by much of the British press, as well the Associated Press, it was swiftly removed from websites after it was exposed as a fake on Twitter.[6][7]

On May 4, 2011, the Obama administration announced it would not release any images of bin Laden's dead body.[8] The administration had considered releasing the photos to dispel rumors of a hoax, at the risks of perhaps prompting another attack by al Qaeda and of releasing very graphic images to people who might find them disturbing.[1][9][dead link] Several photos of the aftermath of the raid were given to Reuters by an anonymous Pakistani security official, but though all appeared to be authentic, they were taken after the U.S. forces had left and none of them included evidence regarding bin Laden's fate.[10]

On May 6, 2011, it was reported that an al-Qaeda website acknowledged bin Laden's death.[11] On May 11, Republican senator and Senate Armed Services Committee member Jim Inhofe viewed "gruesome" photographs of bin Laden's corpse, and later confirmed that the body "was him", adding, "He's history".[12]

The people who promote the conspiracy theories have been referred to by bloggers and mainstream media as "deathers",[13] or "proofers".[14]


Criticism of burial at sea

Doubts about bin Laden's death were fueled by the U.S. military's disposal of his body at sea, though U.S. officials maintained that the burial was necessary because arrangements could not be made with any country to bury bin Laden within 24 hours, as dictated by Muslim practice, even though it is against Muslim beliefs to have a sea burial.[1] The Muslim practice has not always been followed by the U.S. in the past. For example, the bodies of Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, sons of Saddam Hussein, were held for 11 days before being released for burial.[15] In that instance, however, several Iraqi cities were reluctant to grant a gravesite for Saddam's sons.[15]

The decision to bury bin Laden at sea was questioned by some Islamic scholars and by some 9/11 victims and their relatives.[16][17] Professor Peter Romaniuk of John Jay College described the burial at sea as a way to forestall further questions. He stated: "Obviously they’re going to be under pressure to show a body or produce further evidence, but this was a way of taking that issue off the table."[2]

Views of individuals and groups

In Pakistan

A number of Abbottabad, Pakistan, residents said they believed the announcement of Osama's death was a U.S. conspiracy against Pakistan. A local lawyer said, "They’re just making it up. Nobody has seen the body."[18] Some residents doubted not only that bin Laden was dead, but also that he ever lived among them.[19]

Senior Pakistani officials disseminated the theory that no firefight ever took place, and that U.S. forces captured bin Laden alive, executed him outside the compound in front of his 12-year-old daughter, and took his body away on a helicopter.[20][21]

In an interview with CNN's Eliot Spitzer, Hamid Gul former head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) stated that he believed bin Laden had died many years ago and that the official death story given out by the American media was a hoax.[22] Furthermore, he thinks the American government knew about bin Laden's death for years, "They must have known that he had died some years ago so they were waiting. They were keeping this story on the ice and they were looking for an appropriate moment and it couldn't be a better moment because President Obama had to fight off his first salvo in his next year's election as he runs for the presidential and for the White House and I think it is a very appropriate time to come out, bring this out of the closet."[22]

Yet another scenario was reported in an article in the Urdu newspaper Ausaf, which quoted military sources as saying, "Bin Laden has been killed somewhere else. But since the US intends to extend the Afghan war into Pakistan, and accuse Pakistan, and obtain a permit for its military's entry into the country, it has devised the [assassination] scenario."[23]

Bashir Qureshi, who lives just a bean field away from where bin Laden was shot and whose windows were blown out in the raid, was dismissive. "Nobody believes it. We've never seen any Arabs around here, he was not here."[24]

In Iran

A number of Iranians said they believed that bin Laden was working with the U.S. during the entire war on terror. Ismail Kosari, an Iranian MP, said that bin Laden:

was just a puppet controlled by the Zionist regime in order to present a violent image of Islam after the September 11 attacks. Bin Laden's death reflects the passing of a temporary US pawn, and symbolizes the end of one era and the beginning of another in American policy in the region.[25]

Another MP, Javad Jahangirzadeh, said he believed that it was the U.S. that had carried out the terrorist attacks, and bin Laden was the main source of help. He stated, "The West has been very pleased with bin Laden's operations in recent years. Now the West was forced to kill him in order to prevent a possible leak of information he had, information more precious than gold."[25] Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi claims that bin Laden died from an illness before the US raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Iran has documents to prove it, "we have credible information that Bin Laden died some time ago of a disease."[26]

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said "I have exact information that bin Laden was held by the American military for sometime... until the day they killed him he was a prisoner held by them," in a live interview on Iranian state television.[27]

On the internet

Facebook groups formed discussing a rumor, in what has been dubbed the "death hoax".[24][28] Some blogs theorised that the raid and killing were faked, in a conspiracy to attempt to deflect questions about President Barack Obama's citizenship, or to boost Obama's approval ratings and guarantee him popularity during the 2012 U.S. presidential election.[28]


Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan stated "If you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid". She referred to America as a "lying, murderous Empire", and told Americans, whom she called "brainwashed," to "put [their] flags away."[29][30] Sheehan further stated on her Facebook page, "The only proof of [bin Laden] being dead again that we were offered was Obama telling us that there was a DNA match between the man killed by the Navy SEALs and OBL. Even if it is possible to get DNA done so quickly, and the regime did have bin Laden DNA lying around a lab somewhere – where is the empirical proof?"[13] An article in The Village Voice criticized her suggestion that Osama bin Laden wasn't dead, writing that "she appears to have really lost it."[31]

On Russia Today, radio host Alex Jones claimed that bin Laden had been dead for nearly ten years, and that his body had been kept frozen on ice to be used as a propaganda tool at a future politically expedient time. In 2002, he claimed that an anonymous White House source had told him that bin Laden "is frozen, literally frozen and that he would be rolled out in the future at some date".[32] In a separate interview in 2002, Steve Pieczenik told Jones that bin Laden had been dead for months.[33] Pieczenik also later suggested that bin Laden had died from complications of Marfan Syndrome in 2002.[34] Jones also pointed to similar comments made by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2003, "Yes we have been told by intelligence that they’ve got him, Bush may roll him out but because they exposed that at the election they didn’t do it".[32] Jones further voiced doubts about the official story of bin Laden's death on his radio show telling his listeners, "My friends, this is a complete and total hoax."[13]

The Iranian-controlled network Press TV interviewed journalist Webster Tarpley and researcher Stephen Lendman, who both doubted the official story of bin Laden's death. Tarpley said he believed bin Laden had been dead for a long time. He also claimed that the public was deceived by a staged announcement.[35] Moreover, Lendman said that bin Laden died of natural causes in mid-December 2001—citing former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto (who later stated that she misspoke) —and that bin Laden's supposed death was strategically timed as a distraction so Obama's approval rating would increase, despite a very weak American economy.[35] Both Tarpley and Lendman suggested that Obama's announcement was also an excuse to involve the United States in wars with Pakistan and Middle Eastern nations.[35]

Andrew Napolitano, the host of the Fox Business program Freedom Watch, said bin Laden's death could not be verified and insinuated that Obama was using the death of bin Laden to save his "lousy presidency."[36] On the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy challenged the DNA evidence confirming bin Laden's death, saying that the report was "just numbers on a piece of paper".[37] An article in Mediaite criticized Napolitano's remarks, opining that "such conspiracy talk is ultimately beneath Napolitano and his often enlightened discussions."[38]

Canadian deputy Leader of the Opposition and MP, Thomas Mulcair, stated in an interview with CBC Television that "I don't think from what I've heard that those pictures [of bin Laden's body] exist".[39] His remarks were picked up by dozens of U.S. media outlets,[40] and criticized by various Canadian politicians.[40][41][42][43]

An official statement from the Taliban stated that the lack of photos or video footage is suspicious, as their own sources close to bin Laden had not confirmed or denied his death, and that "When the Americans killed Mullah Dadullah (Taliban’s chief military commander) they publicly showed the footage".[18]

Other conspiracy theories

Numerous other conspiracy theories relating to bin Laden's death that were discussed include:

  • That bin Laden had been killed a number of years prior in the Tora Bora mountains, but that this information had been kept secret to encourage continued support for the war on terror.[30][44]
  • That bin Laden died much earlier than reported, and the announcement of bin Laden's death was delayed, so as not to clash with the festivities surrounding the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.[44]
  • That the announcement of bin Laden's death was timed to conflict with and take Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice off the air, to punish Trump for publicly questioning the authenticity of Barack Obama's birth certificate.[23]
  • That it is suspicious that bin Laden's death occurred exactly eight years after George W. Bush's declaration of "mission accomplished" in Iraq and Afghanistan.[44]
  • That bin Laden and Adolf Hitler were announced dead on May 1 (U.S. time), leading to a theory that the Illuminati "sacrificed" them on one of their holiest holidays.[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Osama bin Laden dead: Bin Laden's burial at sea fuels 'death hoax' rumor". latimes.com. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-bin-laden-conspiracy-20110503,0,3052618.story. 
  2. ^ a b Alison Bowen. "Osama bin Laden: Conspiracy theories thrive on lack of proof". Metro. http://www.metro.us/newyork/international/article/848817--osama-bin-laden-conspiracy-theories-thrive-on-lack-of-proof. 
  3. ^ Robert Booth. "The killing of Osama bin Laden: how the White House changed its story". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/04/osama-bin-laden-killing-us-story-change. 
  4. ^ Swinford, Steven. "Osama bin Laden dead: Blackout during raid on bin Laden compound". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/8493391/Osama-bin-Laden-dead-Blackout-during-raid-on-bin-Laden-compound.html.. 
  5. ^ Steven Swinford. "Doubts grow on US version of strike against bin Laden". Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/world/doubts-grow-on-us-version-of-strike-against-bin-laden-20110505-1eaah.html. 
  6. ^ Amelia Hill. "Osama bin Laden corpse photo is fake". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/02/osama-bin-laden-photo-fake. 
  7. ^ "Bin Laden death photo: FAKE!". MilitaryTimes. http://militarytimes.com/blogs/battle-rattle/2011/05/02/bin-laden-death-photo-fake. 
  8. ^ Montopoli, Brian (2011-05-04). "Obama: I won't release bin Laden death photos." CBS News. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
  9. ^ "Osama bin Laden killed: live coverage". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8487374/Osama-bin-Laden-killed-live.html. 
  10. ^ Allbritton, Chris (2011-05-04). Photos show three dead men at bin Laden raid house. Reuters. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
  11. ^ Douglas Stanglin. "Al-Qaeda confirms bin Laden's death, threatens new attacks". USA Today. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/05/al-qaeda-confirms-osama-bin-ladens-death-in-internet-statement/1. 
  12. ^ Members of Congress see bin Laden photos, CNN.com, May 11, 2011
  13. ^ a b c Travis, Shannon (May 5, 2011). "'Deathers' take over where 'birthers' left off". CNN International. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/05/05/birthers.deathers/?hpt=C1. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ "'Proofers' want evidence of bin Laden's death". Newsnet5.com. September 11, 2001. http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/Proofers-want-evidence-of-bin-Ladens-death. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Brian Whitaker. "Bin Laden's body buried at sea". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/02/bin-laden-body-buried-sea. 
  16. ^ "Muslims furious about Osama sea burial – Daylife". Fuse.tv. http://fuse.tv/news/articles/?article=0gePetL1FLfCe. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Osama bin Laden's burial at sea: critics range from 9/11 families to militants.". The Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2011/0503/Osama-bin-Laden-s-burial-at-sea-critics-range-from-9-11-families-to-militants. 
  18. ^ a b "Conspiracy Theories". Indian Express. May 5, 2011. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Conspiracy-Theories/786136/. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Not everyone believes bin Laden really is dead". Yahoo! News. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110502/ap_on_re_us/us_bin_laden_dna. 
  20. ^ Shot dead 'with money sewn into his clothes': Bin Laden was captured alive and then executed, 'claims daughter, 12'. The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
  21. ^ Yusufzai, Mushtaq (2011-05-04). Bin Laden’s daughter confirms her father shot dead by US Special Forces in Pakistan. Al-Arabiya. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
  22. ^ a b "Former Pakistani intel chief: Obama lying". CNN. May 5, 2011. http://inthearena.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/05/fmr-pakistani-intel-chief-obama-lying/. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b c Kingsley, Patrick; Jones, Sam (May 5, 2011). "Osama bin Laden death: The conspiracy theories". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/05/osama-bin-laden-conspiracy-theories. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "Osama bin Laden killed: conspiracy theories proliferate in wake of raid". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8489304/Osama-bin-Laden-killed-conspiracy-theories-proliferate-in-wake-of-raid.html. 
  25. ^ a b "Iran’s reaction to Osama death ranges from skepticism to conspiracy theories". International Business Times. May 4, 2011. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/141350/20110504/iran-us-osama-israel.htm. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Iran can prove Bin Laden was dead long before US raid – Iranian minister — RT". Rt.com. https://rt.com/news/osama-dead-raid/. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Bin Laden was a US prisoner before being killed: Iran". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Bin-Laden-was-a-US-prisoner-before-being-killed-Iran/articleshow/8354870.cms. 
  28. ^ a b "Bin Laden's sea burial fuels conspiracy theories". kwch. http://www.kwch.com/la-fg-bin-laden-conspiracy-20110503,0,1392179.story. 
  29. ^ Geraghty, Jim (2011-05-02). Cindy Sheehan: ‘If you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid.’. National Review. Retrieved 2011-05-02.
  30. ^ a b "Osama photo decision fuels conspiracy theories". International Business Times. May 4, 2011. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/141402/20110504/osama-photo-decision-fuels-conspiracy-theories.htm. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  31. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (02-05-11). "Cindy Sheehan, Grieving Mother and War Critic, Doesn't Believe Osama Bin Laden is Dead". The Village Voice. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/05/cindy_sheehan_osama_bin_laden_facebook_conspiracy_theories.php. 
  32. ^ a b Davis, Richard (May 3, 2011). "Alex Jones claims Bin Laden ‘mission’ is a fake". Economic Voice. http://www.economicvoice.com/alex-jones-claims-bin-laden-mission-is-a-fake/50019671#axzz1LOEJW1a7. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  33. ^ Wax, Emily (May 2, 2011). "Report of bin Laden’s death spurs questions from conspiracy theorists". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/report-of-bin-ladens-death-spurs-questions-from-conspiracy-theorists/2011/05/02/AF90ZjbF_story.html. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  34. ^ Paul Joseph Watson. "Question For Time Magazine: Are The Assertions of a Top Spymaster Who Worked Under 5 Different US Presidents "Black Helicopter Fantasies"?". PrisonPlanet. http://www.prisonplanet.com/question-for-time-magazine-are-the-assertions-of-a-top-spymaster-who-worked-under-5-different-us-presidents-black-helicopter-fantasies.html. 
  35. ^ a b c "US seeks to Balkanize Mideast". Press TV. May 5, 2011. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/178338.html. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Right-Wing Media Figures Ask For "Proof," "More Evidence" Of Bin Laden's Death". Media Matters for America. May 2, 2011. http://mediamatters.org/research/201105030016. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  37. ^ Doocy: Bin Laden Death Deniers Won't "Believe DNA" Evidence, "That's Just Numbers On A Piece Of Paper", Media Matters for America, May 2, 2011
  38. ^ Schneider, Matt (03-05-11). "Judge Napolitano On Bin Laden’s Death: Is Obama ‘Pulling A Fast One’ To Save ‘Lousy Presidency’?". Mediaite. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/judge-napolitano-on-bin-laden-is-obama-pulling-a-fast-one-to-save-lousy-presidency/. 
  39. ^ "Conspiracy theory: NDP deputy leader Mulcair doubts U.S. has bin Laden photos". The Canadian Press. May 4, 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gsjUBZTF0SjtjJdJ_aD4_7gqlbEQ?docId=6758076. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  40. ^ a b Kaszor, Daniel (04-05-11). "NDP MP Thomas Mulcair questions Bin Laden pictures". National Post. http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/05/04/ndp-mp-thomas-mulcair-questions-bin-laden-kill/. 
  41. ^ Press, The Canadian (04-05-11). "Conspiracy theory: NDP deputy leader Mulcair doubts U.S. has bin Laden photos". Toronto Star. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/985972--conspiracy-theory-ndp-deputy-leader-mulcair-doubts-u-s-has-bin-laden-photos. 
  42. ^ Payton, Laura (04-05-11). "NDP deputy leader doubts bin Laden photos exist". CBC. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/05/04/pol-mulcair-osama.html. 
  43. ^ Ibbitson, John (04-05-11). "NDP’s deputy leader doubts existence of bin Laden photos". Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ndps-deputy-leader-doubts-existence-of-bin-laden-photos/article2010535/. 
  44. ^ a b c Caroline Gammell. "Osama bin Laden dead: time for the royal wedding conspiracy theories". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8488472/Osama-bin-Laden-dead-time-for-the-royal-wedding-conspiracy-theories.html. 

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