Debate: Was Osama really killed in Abbottabad?

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Yes, Osama bin Laden was killed during a raid that occurred on May 1, 2011 in Abottabad, Pakistan. One argument made in opposition is that there are no photos, so how can we prove he's dead? The same people who advance this talking point fail to show any real evidence that he is either alive somewhere, or died years ago.

One example is the claim that Benazir Bhutto told BBC in an interview that he was murdered in 2007. However, in an interview a day later, when asked where bin Laden is, she told CNN that General Musharraf knew where bin Laden was and was hiding him. She also spoke of bin Laden being alive to Greta Van Susteren in November 2007 after the BBC interview, to NPR, and to the BBC again. I believe the explanation that there was an error in translation, or she simply misspoke, as Bhutto was actually referring to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's murder of Daniel Pearl. Besides, if I was interviewing someone and they told me that they knew bin Laden was murdered, I certainly would ask follow-up questions or investigate further. You're also assuming that multiple media outlets across the world colluded together to "hide the truth."

Furthermore, if he is dead, where have the movies and recordings been coming from where he mentions current and ongoing events? Granted, he could have pre-recorded a message of his that was released on the 60th anniversary of Israel prior to his death, but in another, he mentions the election of Barack Obama. That assumes he was at least alive until 2007-2008. Additionally, these tapes have been verified as bin Laden, not only by the American government, but a variety of governments worldwide.

If he is still alive, where is he being held? What good does it do to keep him alive? Sure, you could get plenty of intelligence out of him, but there were stashes of computers and data found in his compound.

Now, I could understand and question if the United States threw a missile at his compound, reduced it to rubble and claimed he was dead. But, in saying that he's not dead, there's an implication that the US Navy Seals and the Obama administration are colluding to deceive the American public. Besides, there isn't any benefit, other than a temporary bump in the polls, that Obama could receive from lying about bin Laden. As of yet, he hasn't called for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, nor has he declared the War on Terror over. The elections are still 18 months away, a lifetime in politics, and there is no major legislation that the administration was trying to pass that needed a bump in support that an operation like this would provide.

In a case like this, I believe that the burden of proof really resides on the deniers. The only news sources I could find that discuss whether or not he is dead mainly poke huge holes through the deniers' stories and dismiss them as a fringe movement. Yes, there have been citizens of Pakistan who claim he's not dead, as well as a statement released by his family. However, they are either asking for evidence he's dead, and they don't offer any proof that he isn't dead. If I asked 25 random people on the street what color the sky was, I'm sure at least one would say something besides blue, but I wouldn't use that as evidence that the sky is indeed not blue.

And it's not a liberal media conspiracy either, as conservative news sources, including most of the top conservative news sources listed on this site, have either dismissed the theories or have not provided any support. Additionally, many of the theories concerning bin Laden still being alive require way too many jumps in logic that just aren't backed up by any evidence whatsoever. The only "famous" person advocating these theories that I could find is Cindy Sheehan. Hell, even al Qaeda confirmed he's dead!

Finally, if you did get the pictures, would you be satisfied of his death? I think a vast majority would, but as with the birther movement, there will still be that teeny tiny percentage that will ignore any evidence that contradicts their theory. And if you got the DNA sample, what would you compare it to? Would you know how to analyze it? --MarkN85 15:11, 11 May 2011 (EDT)

That's by far the simplest and most likely explanation given the reactions of all the world governments, the United States, and Al Qaeda themselves. As with the moon landing and 9/11, there will always be debatable trivia (flag ripples, type of collapse, beard color), but it's unconvincing, speculative, and isn't connected to a strong alternate theory (the conspiracy are all more convoluted and farfetched). There's no doubt in my mind that we landed on the moon, that the World Trade Center collapsed because it was hit by planes hijacked by terrorists, and that a SEAL team shot bin Laden. I don't want to get too bogged down on the small points, which other people will argue,but the burial at sea was the most elegant solution --- you don't get accused of parading the body around and lose goodwill, and you don't leave it in Muslim hands where people may make it a shrine. There's not much Obama does well, but this time he did all right because he basically took the advice of his security advisors who knew much more than he did about fighting Al Qaeda and didn't stick to the misguided ideas from his campaign. Some day there will be books describing the campaign in detail and I'm sure it will be clear that the hardworking, serious people concerned with national security had more to do with it than any politician.KingHanksley 12:34, 12 May 2011 (EDT)

Yes, the fact that Al Qaeda itself has admitted that Osama was killed in the manner the US government said has ended all reasonable doubt. I cannot imagine why anyone would doubt this unless they were masters of the are of cognitive dissonance. --DamianJohn 19:37, 12 May 2011 (EDT)
Just a question for the "no" crowd. In your belief, are the Bush admin veterans such as John Brennan, and the military officers such as William McRaven also lying? KingHanksley 13:16, 13 May 2011 (EDT)
Unfortunately there is no "no crowd" at the moment, just me. But no, I don't think they are lying, Bachmann and Inhofe aren't lying either. I'm not even saying that I'm sure that Obama is lying. I'm just asking why, if he isn't lying, he does not publish proof that can be scrutinized by the public. Or is there a philosiphical implication in your question? Does someone lie when they retell a story, they think is true, but is actually a lie?


In my opinion Osama was not killed in Abbottabad. The governments refusal to publish pictures of his corpse and the "burial at sea", which contradicts Muslim funeral rites leave some very big question marks. The published videos also don't seem satisfactory to me. The fact that Osama coloured his beard is a bit too convenient to explain some Osama tapes, that are speculated to be fake.
I suspect that he was either killed long before Obama became president, or that he was not actually killed at all, but captured by Seal Team Six.--VPropp 13:18, 11 May 2011 (EDT)

@MarkN85: Thanks for participating. You made some interesting arguments. I would like to address some of your points:
Let's start with a misunderstanding. In my very short text, I never once mentioned the thought of a "liberal media conspiracy"; I didn't even mention the media at all. So quite a few of your points are kind of moot.
As for the videos: The videos are to some part, what ignited my doubts. The fact that they just very conveniently explain, why in some videos Osama has a black beard again, irritates me. Why would a muslim man dye his beard? Just for vanity? In the arabic culture a grey beard is a sign of wisdom (not that Osama is/was a wise man). The videos could have been found in another Al-Quaeda hideout, or in the very hideout in Abbottabad, which still does not prove that Osama was killed there. Btw: Did you look at the timeline of the Osama videos and the doubts about their authenticity? In 2007, after three years of video silence, there was a new Bin Laden video, which froze the picture of him, every time he mentioned current events. Could it be that he has/had a voice double?
As for the motivation of Obama to lie about the whole thing: Does Obama actually need a reason to lie? But seriously, there is no direct positive effect for Obama yet, apart from the slight bump in the polls. You're right. But the alleged death of Osama opens up a way to withdraw from Afghanistan and possibly Iraq. Obama will of course wait a bit longer till he drops that political bomb, which will give him more than a slight bump in the polls.
But in the end you're right. I can't proof that Osama is still alive or died years ago. But shouldn't the burden of proof be on the one who makes the claim in the first place? Why does Obama not publish proof that can be understood by the wider public and especially by the arab people?
Btw: How do you explain the burial at sea, when the sons of Hussein were presented in an open casket?
I have no idea why he dyes his beard, but Senator Jim Inhofe and Michelle Bachmann have seen the actual photos at the CIA, agree with the decision not to release them to the public, and his beard is dyed in those photos. --MarkN85 17:03, 12 May 2011 (EDT)
There were many valuable point made. Thank you for participating. I'll deal with them one for one. Please inform me if I forgot something.
As for the moon landing and 9/11: We got evidence of those events. Evidence that was available to the public and could thus be scrutinized by the best of the public. So far the only "evidence" the public got was the oral assurance of the Obama-administration.
Al-Quaeda confirming Osamas death: If Osama was killed/died years ago, or was captured alive by the SEALS, why would Al-Quaeda say so? If Osama died years ago, the Al-Quaeda would have lied to their followers, which would nit be good for them. If Osama was captured, that would be shameful for them, since he didn't die a martyr. It is advantegous for Al-Quaeda to say that Osama was killed (in action). Plus: Messages posted on the internet are not exactly the most reliable source, since they don't have to be posted by the higher up.
As for Inhofe and Bachmann seeing the pictures: I think that is clearly a step in the right direction. BUT are Bachmann and Inhofe specialists in photoshop-technology? Would they be able to tell a well faked picture apart from a real one? I know I couldn't. And that's why I would like to see the pictures published, so they can be scrutinized by experts. Btw: Inhofe would also like to see at least the photos of the washed Osama published.--VPropp 11:55, 13 May 2011 (EDT)