Osama Bin Laden: Photos will not be released - Obama

President Barack Obama: 'There is no doubt that we killed Osama Bin Laden' - Footage courtesy CBS News, 60 Minutes

President Barack Obama has decided that photos of the dead Osama Bin Laden should not be released.

US officials had been discussing whether to publish pictures of Bin Laden's body to counter conspiracy theories that he did not die.

But Mr Obama believed the images could inflame sensitivities, saying: "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies."

The al-Qaeda leader was shot dead in a raid on Monday by US special forces in northern Pakistan.

He had claimed the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania as well as many other atrocities.

On Thursday, Mr Obama will visit Ground Zero, the site of World Trade Center in New York, to remember victims of the attacks.

A spokesman said he would lay a wreath and meet emergency workers and relatives of those who died, but would not be making a speech.

Senators split

Mr Obama revealed his decision on the photographs during an interview with CBS television's 60 Minutes programme.

Analysis

If this was a tough decision for the White House, the president's spokesman didn't give much hint of agonising debate. The photos' release had been expected in order to prove definitively that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Much the same desire was behind the release of photos of Uday and Qusay Hussein, after they were killed in a shootout with US forces in 2003.

On the other hand, there was concern the photos might inflame anti-US sentiment. There has been almost no triumphalism from the Obama administration - great pains were taken to detail the respect with which Bin Laden's body was treated.

That could all have been undone with the release of photographs, and many doubters in any case would have found reason not to believe in their authenticity. The White House, and most Americans, believe they got their man. So, says Jay Carney, does al-Qaeda. That was clearly enough for Mr Obama.

"There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you won't see Bin Laden walking on this Earth again," Mr Obama said.

"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence," he added.

"I think that, given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk."

Mr Obama's decision prompted a mixed reaction from US politicians, some of whom were shown the photos.

Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House of Representatives, said he shared the president's view.

"In my opinion there's no end served by releasing a picture of someone who has been killed," he said, quoted by CNN.

But senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the decision was a mistake.

"I know Bin Laden is dead," he said. "But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world. I'm afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate."

The US president's decision came a fter CIA director Leon Panetta had said the photos would be released at some stage.

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Mardell's America

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There is the suspicion that the US never wanted to take Bin Laden alive”

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The decision came as US officials began to comb through computer hard-drives, mobile phones and USB sticks found during the US Navy Seals raid on the compound in Abbottabad where Bin Laden was hiding.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Washington expected to add more names to its terrorism watch-list as a result of data seized from the compound.

Two telephone numbers and 500 euros ($745; £450) were also found stitched into Bin Laden's clothing, there in case he needed to make a quick getaway.

Critics have raised concerns about the legality of the operation, after the US revised its account to acknowledge Bin Laden was unarmed when shot dead.

But Mr Holder said Bin Laden was a lawful military target, whose killing was "an act of national self-defence".

He told lawmakers in Congress: "Let me make something very clear: The operation in which Osama Bin Laden was killed was lawful.

"It was a kill-or-capture mission. He made no attempt to surrender."

US Attorney General Eric Holder: "His killing was appropriate"

Three other men and one woman also died in Monday's assault, while one of the al-Qaeda leader's wives was injured.

The 54-year-old Bin Laden - America's most wanted man - was buried at sea from a US aircraft carrier, say US officials.

Mr Obama, who monitored the progress of the raid from the White House, saw his approval rating jump 11 points to 57% in a New York Times/CBS News poll on Wednesday.

The compound where the operation took place is just a few hundred metres from the Pakistan Military Academy.

In unusually frank remarks, Mr Panetta told Time magazine: "It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission. They might alert the targets."

Pakistan rejected the US suggestions it could not have been trusted in advance.

Some US lawmakers are calling for billions of dollars in aid for Pakistan to be reduced or stopped altogether.

Map of Abbottabad
Diagram of the compound

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