White House split over release of gruesome pictures of Bin Laden’s mangled corpse

Posted: May 4, 2011 in US News

Oliver Tree and Neil Sears
Mail Online
May 4, 2011

  • Taliban demands to see proof of Al Qaeda leader’s death
  • White House may also release video of his burial at sea
  • Three sets of photos taken – during raid, at Afghanistan airbase and at sea
  • U.S. used ‘multiple means’ to identify Bin Laden
  • One report said he had a ‘massive head wound above his left eye, with brains and blood visible’

    The White House was today split on whether to release the gruesome pictures of Bin Laden’s corpse as conspiracy theorists and the Taliban questioned whether the terror chief was actually dead.

    President Barack Obama is reluctant to make public images of the body because it is bloodied and badly wounded, and a perceived lack of respect for the dead could lead to a backlash.

    But CIA Director Leon Panetta says there has never been any doubt that ultimately a photograph of the Al Qaeda leader would be released to the public.

    In the absence of any pictorial evidence that Bin Laden is dead, some have claimed that he was not killed at all.

    Signalling that an intense internal debate was under way, the White House insisted no decision had yet been taken and emphasised the graphic nature of the imagery.

    ‘It’s fair to say that it’s a gruesome photograph,’ said White House spokesman Jay Carney, appearing to refer to an image of Bin Laden taken shortly after a U.S. strike team killed him at his Pakistani compound.

    ‘I’ll be candid. There are sensitivities here in terms of the appropriateness of releasing photographs of Osama Bin Laden.’

    The disclosure of images could provide further closure to Americans nearly a decade after the September 11, 2001, attacks that he masterminded. It could also disprove those who doubt the death of Bin Laden, who was shot in the head and chest at a fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

    But critics say such photos are distasteful and if the Obama administration releases them, they could offend Muslims and be exploited by extremists.

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