Bin Laden death: Images could pose 'US security risk'

 

President Obama told CBS: 'There is no doubt that we killed Osama Bin Laden'

President Barack Obama has said publishing photos of the dead Osama Bin Laden threatens US national security.

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

The al-Qaeda leader was killed by US special forces in northern Pakistan on Monday. His body was buried at sea.

On Thursday, Mr Obama is to visit the site of the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York, one of many Bin Laden claimed to have masterminded.

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, as a propaganda tool. That's not who we are."

The US administration has been monitoring world reaction - amid conspiracy theories about the al-Qaeda leader following conflicting accounts given by US officials.

"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.

On Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir again dismissed allegations his country's secret services had links to al-Qaeda, and said the investigation into the presence of Bin Laden in Abbottabad would reveal what failures there were.

Legality question

Mr Obama's decision - revealed during an interview with CBS television's 60 Minutes programme - prompted a mixed reaction from US politicians, some of whom were shown the photos.

At the scene

The compound has had lots of people around it over the past 24 hours; the police have been moving people away sporadically, closing the area and opening it again. But while it is open, a lot of locals have come round.

Of course, they have been stunned by what has happened. They are very curious about this place, and a lot of those people are talking about these pictures. A lot of people have been saying right from the start that they still can't quite believe that Osama Bin Laden was living in their midst and that he was killed here.

They want some kind of proof, even though the Pakistani authorities have been very categorical about the fact they say he has been killed.

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 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 living.

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

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".

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

Survivors

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

Mardell's America

Start Quote

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

End Quote

The Pakistani military is holding the survivors of the US special forces operation. They are being kept at secret locations in the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

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, CIA director Leon 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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  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 536.

    Obama is correct. He has tried at all times to release as much information as possible even to the point of admitting he initial information was wrong. Is this the action of someone with something to hide? Bin Laden is dead. He deserved it and will not be missed. He did not give any of his victims an opportunity to surrender so why should a soldier take any risk at all. Killing was justified.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 512.

    @104
    Why be sensitive to those who hate us? They are not going to stop hating us. Those who want to do us harm will continue to try.

    because you end up alientaing more & more people, acting with compassion & honour enables those who oppose you to at least have the option of respecting you & creating a route to peace rather than perpetual war.

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 271.

    It doesn't matter what Obama does, if he releases nothing the conspiracy theorists will say he's still alive and if they do release photos they will say they are faked, just like they do with 9/11, 7/7 and the Holocausts.

    Don't you think if they hadn't of gotten him Al-Qaeda would quickly release evidence showing otherwise, instead they are planning revenge attacks

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 119.

    I think that the idea that the photos must be shown to confirm his death are utterly unfounded. This should have been clear as soon as Obama questioned the integrity of the Pakistani government thus damaging their relations. Politics isn't just a game where you can fake the death of Bin Laden and then accuse a country of being slack in their fight against him and Al-Qaeda.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 104.

    65% of Americans want to see the photos released. It's not because they do not believe him dead. When Obama says it's not who we are he's expressing his own opinion rather than that of the average American.

    Why be sensitive to those who hate us? They are not going to stop hating us. Those who want to do us harm will continue to try. Showing fear of retaliation will only encourage.

 

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