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Why did they bury bin Laden at sea?

The disposal of bin Laden’s body in the north Arabian Sea fuels the critics and the conspiracy theories


 
Why did they bury him at sea?

Jason DeCrow/AP

On May 2, shortly after 1 a.m., Osama bin Laden’s body was washed and wrapped in cloth on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. A military officer read out prayers, his voice closely echoed by an Arabic translator. A few moments later, the bundle was eased into the north Arabian Sea. A rather dignified—albeit inglorious—end for the world’s most wanted man.

Judging from Pentagon briefings, the handling of bin Laden’s burial was as smooth an operation as the 40 minutes of action that led to his killing. The decision to dispose of the body at sea, experts say, came out of a concern that a gravesite might become a shrine to the terrorist who masterminded the 9/11 attacks. Besides, U.S. officials said, no country seemed eager to become the final resting place for bin Laden’s remains. Even his native Saudi Arabia is reported to have refused to accept what was left of him.

And though the decision to dispose of him at sea was dictated by pragmatism, according to the official narrative, the burial did not neglect cultural sensitivity. Though Muslims usually lay their dead to rest in the ground with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca, U.S. officials say that bin Laden’s body was washed and shrouded according to the Islamic rite, and the burial occurred less than 24 hours after death, as prescribed by tradition.

Yet toeing the line between practicality and political correctness has landed the White House at the centre of criticism. Soon after details of the burial began circulating, a slew of Muslim clerics and scholars were shaking their heads in disapproval. A burial at sea “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs,” said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque. Others rejected the notion, circulating on several Western news outlets, that a Muslim’s burial at sea is acceptable in extraordinary circumstances, and the Obama administration’s inability to find a country to take bin Laden’s remains constituted one of those exceptions. That isn’t the case, said Mohammed al-Qubaisi, Dubai’s grand mufti. Some even warned that the handling of bin Laden’s body is an insult to Muslims, and could possibly be grounds for retaliation against American targets.

John Esposito, a professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, dismisses any such criticism as “ultra-conservative” and “legalistic.” He predicts that any hardline response will likely have little impact on the Muslim world. Even the very small minority of Muslims who had once been attracted to bin Laden had grown increasingly alienated from him, he says, after al-Qaeda killed hundreds of Muslims in attacks in Iraq and Pakistan. Rather than focusing on the minutiae of religious rites, adds Esposito, “American Muslim groups were very quick to deal with this in the way this incident should be dealt with—to talk about the fact that they were pleased that this kind of person was finally caught, and, because it was necessary, was killed.”

Yet, even in the U.S., some Muslims were questioning the White House’s pretense of propriety. Maher Hathout, a retired physician and a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a civil rights advocacy group, wasn’t sorry to see bin Laden go, nor concerned that he was dumped into the sea. “Without him, the world is a safer and better place, and Islam is less vulnerable to the tarnished image he imposed on it,” says Hathout, calling the burial “pragmatically savvy.” But he rejects the claim that things were handled according to Islam. “From dust we came, to dust we go back,” he says, recalling the Islamic belief, “and from dust we are resurrected on the day of judgment.”

Edward Turzanski, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank in Philadelphia, worries that the speedy, almost sly disposal of bin Laden’s body will fuel conspiracy theories and turn the story of his killing into the counterterrorism equivalent of the moon landing. A few photos and DNA samples taken by U.S. agents before the burial might not be enough to dispel doubts, says Turzanski. The disbelievers are already at work. A Facebook page called “Osama bin Laden NOT DEAD” launched almost immediately, and now counts 925 registered fans. And demands to see bin Laden’s death certificate became a favourite joke on the Web. “I wonder if the people that created Obama’s birth certificate will be the same ones that create Osama’s death certificate,” wrote one blogger.

Turzanski recalls that when the U.S. killed Uday and Qusay Hussein, sons of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, their bodies were held for 11 days before being released for burial. And the administration even summoned international media to take photographs, so that it could be established that the two were, in fact, dead. Bin Laden’s burial, he says, should have been handled the same way. “The problem with the conspiratorial mind,” says Turzanski, “is that lack of proof is, in fact, proof.”


 

Why did they bury bin Laden at sea?

  1. The clerics are shaking their heads at the 'incorrectness' of burying bin Laden at sea. Do they shake their heads at the arbitrary beheadings, throat slashings and body dumpings of non-muslim 'infidels'?

    • Edward Turzanski, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank in Philadelphia, worries that the speedy, almost sly disposal of bin Laden's body will fuel conspiracy theories and turn the story of his killing into the counterterrorism equivalent of the moon landing. A few photos and DNA samples taken by U.S. agents before the burial might not be enough to dispel doubts, says Turzanski. The disbelievers are already at work. A Facebook page called “Osama bin Laden NOT DEAD” launched almost immediately, and now counts 925 registered fans. And demands to see bin Laden's death certificate became a favourite joke on the Web. “I wonder if the people that created Obama's birth certificate will be the same ones that create Osama's death certificate,” wrote one blogger.

  2. Pakistan is a terrorist contry going by history since the time of Alli Butto to General Zia and Benezar Butto . nobody can fight for God or defend God.

    • Some people seem to think they can. Although you can argue that they are not fighting for a god or defending it. They are simply using it as a pretext/subtext/context/excuse to cater to their baser instincts.

  3. From dust we came, to dust we go back,” he says, recalling the Islamic belief, “and from dust we are resurrected on the day of judgment.”

    There is dust on the bottom of the sea. It is just wetter than the dust on land.

    • that gave me a good laugh.. thx ColdStanding..

  4. We Americans showed Bin Laden MORE RESPECT than he and his RADICAL FOLLOWERS [and now outspoken critics] has shown his VICTIMS; of any faith or nationality…………….SO SHUT UP AND MOVE ON, PEOPLE.

  5. .
    It's just that piously burying it within 24 hours sounds like a pretext that avoids the more serious issue on not burying it in the ground. Read carefully the text: the Saudis reportedly didn't want the body. A few days wait would have established before the whole spectrum of Muslim opinion that, in fact, nobody wanted the corpse, and the sea was the only option.

    I think the U.S. plain and simply didn't want a 'martyr's' grave somewhere.

    In any event, good riddance.
    .

    • Why are we wasting time talking about Bin Laden burial?

      The Muslims complaining about his burial are terrorist sympatisers.

      The muslims happy he is at the bottom of the sea are normal people.

      Enough said!

  6. I agree with Phil. Nothing we do will ever be appropriate. He was treated with the same dignity that the deaths on his hands were. And threats of retaliation, gosh WHAT A S UPRISE! THEY JUST WANT EXCUSES TO JUSTIFY THEMSELVES. GET OVER IT!

  7. Religion i causing more problem than solving it…….no one can fight for God…………the whole world should rally around 1 belief and let the sleeping dog lie.

    • no beliefs would be more sane and immensely safer

  8. Where is the American christian belief of forgiveness in all of this . Christ said to forgive our enemies not chase them with stealth bommers.

    • The only ones criticizing Bin Ladens burial are hypocrits and terrorist sympathyzers.

      Move on !

      This isn't even funny!

    • I believe the Christian concept of forgiveness is contingent on the sinner's sincere repentance.
      From his actions as we know them, I don't believe Bin Laden repented or even admitted that he was a sinner.
      Thus there is no basis in Christian Theology for forgiveness of Osama Bin Laden.

      • You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
        —Matthew 5:38-42, NIV

        No contingency on repentance there. Definitely no seeking of vengeance. Just sayin'…

        • I agree in principle. But only in principle.

          Still response depends on the situation/circumstances.

          • Indeed. I wasn't passing judgment or suggesting policy; I was strictly refuting MHL's incorrect view of Christian theology. That's not to say there aren't plenty of Christians who are very Old Testament, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth' types. The selective use of biblical quotations is often employed to justify a wide range of beliefs and behaviours.

            MHL is conflating God's forgiveness of the individual for his/her sins in weighing that individual's fate after death with the responsibility of Christians to forgive others who have sinned against them. Similar but separate concepts.

  9. "Some even warned that the handling of bin Laden's body is an insult to Muslims"

    Someone should write a book on what insults muslims… oh wait that would be 1000 pages long, maybe it's easier to write one on what isn't an insult to muslims.

  10. Can anyone testify that obl did or didnt repent? being a life long religious person i was told God is forgiving but you cant fool him! So yes he and YOU and I have done wrong so i think God will enjoy the ability to judge. say your prayers and continue to smile that america is trying to keep us safe and free. may God bless the world and especially the less fortunate.

  11. "The disposal of bin Laden's body in the north Arabian Sea fuels the critics and the conspiracy theories."

    I agree. Better to have published a photo of the corpse with a bullethole through the forehead than to let people think he might have been brutally tortured or that he's not dead or whatever.

  12. Those politically correct should be happy with this decision as it is recycling at its best – from corpse to fish/shark food. Bon Appetit!

    • I pity the fool fish that get to eat that. I predict lots of sick, contaminated fish. Mercury poisoning will be more acceptable in the near future.

  13. Amazing they would treat scum like that with such dignity. They should have sent him over the side with the rest of the garbage. Food for the sea creatures probably would have been the only useful thing he did in his miserable existence. Ahr matey, it's to Davy Jones ye go.

  14. Bin laden must have taken alive , he has lot of intelligence which can be used to win the war against terror , and even if he was accidently killed in the fire fight , i am very sure his body was not buried the next day , a postmortem must have been conducted to check his kidneys if required dialysis , did he had kidney transplant . this will lead to many from Pakistan govt .

    • waat u taaking!?

  15. Let us ask our Muslim brethren: How do you think Allah, praised be He, received the soul of Osama Bin Laden into His Holy Presence and do you think He welcomed him (Bin Laden) into Paradise, or did He direct him to the Muslim equivalent of what we call Hell?
    And regarding Bin Laden's physical remains, do our Muslim brethren believe that the Americans' treatment of those remains will have a significant bearing on the judgement which Allah, praised be He, will pronounce on the life and deeds of Osama Bin Laden or whether or not he will be judged worthy of Resurrection?

  16. Why should his body be treated with such dignity and reverence, while the thousands of deaths he is responsible were shown no respect. On 9/11 many human beings were simply vaporized. No compassion, no respect, no service for the souls of the departed.
    It's simply amazing that Iman's held in such high religious regard and esteem be so critical of the respectful burial of a coward and villain, and yet hold no sympathy for the thousands of Muslim and non Muslim alike whom lie dead and scattered.
    Shame.

  17. When my youngest daughter phoned my wife Sunday May 1, 2011 – stating President Obama had killed, Osama bin Laden, my absolute first and sudden reaction to this TV story, came out of my mouth Bullshirt ( without the r ), I knew this was propaganda that is being fed to my family, I knew from previous news media and high ranking officials, politicians, previously admitted Osama's, “Not so well being”:
    In 2003, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she suspected then U.S. President George W. Bush knew the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and was waiting for the most politically expedient moment to announce his capture. http://www.Cheechandchongfan.blogspot.com
    In February, 2004, Iranian state radio claimed Osama bin Laden had been captured in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan “a long time ago.” Pentagon and Pakistani officials denied the report. Infowars.com
    Re: http://truthiscontagious.com/2011/05/02/flashback

  18. Part 2
    It is also known that Osama was on dialysis and is said to have died of Renal Failure.!
    In death, by Arab custom, their corpses are to be buried in the ground head facing toward Mecca!
    The only time it is allowed for them to be buried at sea, is, if the body is decomposing from having been at sea too long after death!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1EXwjFOa0&fe
    "If You Believe The Newest Death Of Osama Bin Laden YOU'RE STUPID!" Cindy Sheehan http://www.massdevice.com/news/did-bin-laden-have
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/foreign-poli

    Paul Revere and Mark Bartok http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQRIpMND6pw&fe

  19. The Soviets also made sure that the're wouldn't be a shrine for Hitler either. The mausoleum/shrine to Che Guevera in Cuba is an example of how the spirit lives on. I was scolded by a Cuban attendant for not removing my hat in the presence of Guevera's ashes.

  20. Obama: "We've done our duty in spreading democracy..by KILLING THIS BASTARD IN COLD BLOOD"

    Americans: "USA! USA! USA!"

  21. I remember as a boy the bombing of the Montreal Stock Exchange in 1970. I think I must have felt as Jesus did when he realized that Jerusalem was doomed to destruction by the Romans. We have been fortunate that terrorists haven't driven an airplane into the CN Tower or planted bombs on Parliament Hill. We have been fortunate that a series of bombs haven't gone off in the Metro in Toronto or the Souterrain in Montreal. Let's be glad that the U.S. hunted down Osama bin Ladin like the wild dog that he was.

  22. I knew Paul Revere, and you sir, are no Paul Revere. More like Donald Trump.

  23. Turzanski recalls that when the U.S. killed Uday and Qusay Hussein, sons of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, their bodies were held for 11 days before being released for burial. And the administration even summoned international media to take photographs, so that it could be established that the two were, in fact, dead. Bin Laden's burial, he says, should have been handled the same way. “The problem with the conspiratorial mind,” says Turzanski, “is that lack of proof is, in fact, proof.

  24. Turzanski recalls that when the U.S. killed Uday and Qusay Hussein, sons of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, their bodies were held for 11 days before being released for burial. And the administration even summoned international media to take photographs, so that it could be established that the two were, in fact, dead. Bin Laden's burial, he says, should have been handled the same way. “The problem with the conspiratorial mind,” says Turzanski, “is that lack of proof is, in fact, proof.”

  25. On May 2, shortly after 1 a.m., Osama bin Laden's body was washed and wrapped in cloth on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. A military officer read out prayers, his voice closely echoed by an Arabic translator. A few moments later, the bundle was eased into the north Arabian Sea. A rather dignified—albeit inglorious—end for the world's most wanted man.

  26. Yes – but is he really "dust" or hidden away somewhere by the US? DNA is very easy to get hold of and no proof of death itself.

  27. A one world religeon Mr.Orwell?????

  28. They should have given him a Vikings funeral, a raft of wood turned into a funeral pyre,along with the garbage from the aircraft carrier. That way, the enviromentalists would be happy about not having to landfill it, of course, the people worried about the CO2 emitted from this fire would then be upset, so….Help me out people! Can anyone be happy with the way any thing is handled?

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