The photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse are not published for an obvious reason. The United States was in a tough spot, despite they just accomplished a more than decade manhunt after the world’s most wanted terrorist. The elite Navy SEAL Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden in operation Neptune Spear, but the administration knew that nothing they did would satisfy everybody.
It was decided that to parade Osama bin Laden’s body (in any way, even in photos) would be considered highly disrespectful given his religion. There’s a rule that has been largely beaten into the heads of the American military: be vicious in combat, magnanimous in victory.
Why did America not show Osama Bin Laden’s body?
To the people who loathe the US or who need to cling to conspiracy theories to compensate for whatever they lack elsewhere in life, that will never be sufficient. The US is evil, Zargon’s insectoids from Tau Ceti are controlling the minds of the government and Bin Laden is planting lilacs in upstate New York. Something, something, something, “super-thermite”.
But it violated every principle of the standard military procedure to permit a picture of Osama Bin Laden to be paraded. He was dead. There was no point in rubbing dirt in it and giving those who revere him another rallying cry (“See how they disrespect a Muslim, even in death!”).
A disposal method was selected that was (a) in keeping with the policy that his grave could not be used as a shrine, (b) that didn’t put the countries like Saudi Arabia in a tough spot (they didn’t want his body) and (c) be somewhat appropriate to his religion (quoting of scripture and burial at sea is not without precedent).
“Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed,” the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. “The deceased’s body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag.
“A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the sea”.
The people with a “need to know” were able to see the video footage and the pictures (and there were a LOT of people, including many US allies). Al Qaeda was sufficiently convinced that the US killed him that they used his killing as an attempted rallying cry.
There are pictures of him as he lay there dead obviously taken by one of the raiders. People need to know though that a person who is dead from a gunshot wound to the head does not look the same as he was when alive. Blessed are the believers. As for the non-believers…screw them. They don’t matter.
Why was Osama bin Laden buried at sea?
Osama bin Laden’s body was buried at sea soon after his death for a number of reasons. There are suggestions that no country was willing to take his remains, that the US wanted to ensure that his burial place wouldn’t become a shrine for his followers and that they wanted it done as soon as possible.
Had Bin Laden been buried on land, there was a 99.9% chance that his place of burial would have turned into a shrine and a place of propaganda. This could have proved very detrimental for the stability of the region and the acts of terrorism could have turned into more vicious attacks on non-combatants.
What we have heard is that Osama’s body was accorded proper respect and he was given a Muslim burial service before his body was laid to rest. It is important to note that the same burial method (weighted down sheets) was used for US Navy servicemen who died in combat at sea during World War 2. This was in no way disrespectful.
Certainly nowhere near as disrespectful as leaving relatives with nobody to bury as thousands of New Yorkers experienced in 2001.