It’s not that hard to see why conspiracy minded folks are suspicious about the assassination of bin Laden in a Pakistani villa. A ten-year search for the alleged terrorist master-mind ends with his body dumped at sea and no photos of the corpse or reality close-ups of the military operations. Mind you, even if genuine photos did surface, some would still say they were fake.
“The potential is tremendous,” says Barna Donovan who is a New Jersey professor and the author of a forthcoming book A Tour of Dark Places in the American Consciousness. Indeed, the first doubts were fuelled by the US military’s disposal of the body at sea within 24 hours as dictated, so officials said, by Muslim practice. Yet the US has not always abided by this tradition. The bodies of Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, sons of Saddam, were held for eleven days before being released for burial. Conspiracy theorists say there was no need to rush the dumping of bin Laden’s corpse.
In Pakistan, still smarting from a US helicopter mission that bypassed their security, residents said the US was just fibbing. A local lawyer said that it was nonsense to suppose that bin Laden had lived amongst them for five years: the locals would have known for sure. Senior officials in Islamabad, on the other hand, postulated that bin Laden had been captured alive but then shot to death in the complex’s garden in front of his young children.
Yet a senior official of the Pakistani special services put forward an alternative view – that kidney disease had killed bin Laden years ago, but the US kept the news secret until a politically convenient time. That time was now as president Obama wanted to fire off his first salvo in his bid next year to be re-elected American president. In 2007 former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto said in an interview with Al Jazeera that bin Laden had been murdered “years before”.
Not surprisingly, conspiracy theories are thriving in Iran. One Iranian MP has said that bin Laden was actually working with the US during the war on terror. “He was just a puppet controlled by the Zionist regime to justify Christian attacks on Arab countries after the September 11 attacks.” Another Iranian MP said that bin Laden had served his purpose for the Americans and now needed to be silenced lest he spill the beans in public.
Meanwhile, conspiracy theories have raged on Facebook. One blogger argued that the death hoax was necessary to deflect questions about president Obama’s citizenship or to boost his approval ratings in public opinion polls as the US economy remained in the doldrums.
Another claimed that the supposed DNA match was done suspiciously quickly, or that the real bin Laden had been kept frozen in ice for ten years to be rolled out when convenient.
On Fox News, a host said that bin Laden’s death could not be verified and suggested that Obama was using the supposed death to save his “lousy” presidency. As regards DNA evidence, that’s just “numbers on a piece of paper”. Although al Qaeda has publicly stated that bin Laden was killed in the US raid of early May, some sources remain unconvinced. Thus the Taliban has stated it’s odd that the Americans never showed bin Laden’s corpse as they did produce publicly the earlier footage of the killing of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban’s chief military commander.
It goes on and on. The announcement of bin Laden’s death was delayed so as not to clash with the festivities surrounding the wedding of prince William and Catherine Middleton. Or the announcement of bin Laden’s death was timed to punish Donald Trump for questioning the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate and taking his TV programme Celebrity Apprentice off the air.
Or could it be that William and Catherine delayed their honeymoon so that their love life wouldn’t restrict the publicity given to bin Laden’s demise? Still others point to the fact that both Adolf Hitler and bin Laden were declared dead on May 1 (US time), leading to the idea that the Illuminati sacrificed them on one of their holiest days. It’s even possible to go through May 1 in history and show what a disastrous day it has often been: in 1957 there was a terrible air crash in Hampshire UK, in 2009 same sex marriages were legalized in Sweden (bad idea according to some) and in 2011 ex-pope John Paul the Second was beatified. The elder president Bush was said to be especially nervous of May 1. May Day, it has to be admitted, has much to answer for.