WASHINGTON: A conservative political group in the United States has launched a campaign to force the Obama administration to release the photos of the Abbottabad raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The Judicial Watch claims that the administration is refusing to release the pictures because it wants to hide something that may cast doubt on President Barack Obama’s greatest achievement: eliminating Osama.
This week, the group claimed uncovering “smoking gun evidence that the Obama administration's efforts to keep these photos secret included an order by a top Pentagon official to destroy them.”
In this email, dated May 13, 2011, the then head of the US Special Forces, Vice Admiral William McRaven, orders the commandos who participated in the operation to destroy all the pictures they might have taken.
“One particular item that I want to emphasise is photos; particularly Osama's remains. At this point, all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them, destroy them immediately or get them to the (redacted).”
The order to purge the photos came 11 days after Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the US Department of Defence for “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama Bin Laden taken during and/or after the US military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011”. Judicial Watch is seeking the photographs and videos to prove if it was actually him.
The US administration had announced after the May 2, 2011 operation that they had buried OBL at sea because they could not find a country that would bury him within 24 hours, in accordance with the Muslim custom. They also avoided burying him on land because they feared that Osama’s grave would become a shrine for his followers.
Later, President Obama explained that he had decided not to release the pictures for similar reasons. “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,” he told CBS News.
The refusal encouraged rumour mongers to insist that it was somebody else, and not, the Al Qaeda leader, who was killed in the raid. The rumours, which had subsided, resurfaced this week after Judicial Watch released Admiral McRaven's email message.
This forced US officials to release another denial, saying that there was no question who was killed in the Abbottabad raid. Along with being visually identified on the scene by US operatives, Bin Laden was identified by name by a woman believed to be one of his wives, they argued.
CIA specialists compared photos of the body with known photos of Bin Laden, determining with 95 per cent certainty that they were one and the same, the officials said.
The denial, however, did not satisfy the rumour mongers who are once again busy spinning out all sorts of theories.
They claim that Osama arrived at the American hospital in Dubai on July 4, 2001 for renal processing or a Kidney Dialysis and left on July 14. While at the hospital, he also met a person in charge of the CIA.
He came to Dubai on July 4 by plane from Quetta and was immediately transferred to the hospital for a renal processing.
The rumours mongers use such reports to prove that Osama had a serious kidney problem and needed regular treatment. After, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he could not get this treatment and died of kidney failure.
An American anti-War activist Cindy Sheehan wrote that those who believed the government's claim that Osama was killed in the raid were ‘stupid.’
“Just think to yourself, they paraded Saddam's dead sons around to prove they were dead, why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of Osama at sea?”
US officials dismiss these claims as “figments of someone's wild imagination” that better be ignored but this does not discourage rumour mongers from claiming that Osama did not die in the raid.