Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is now dead, but his remains will likely never be found because his body was buried at sea.
According to the Associated Press, "After the firefight that killed Osama bin Laden, the U.S. used ‘multiple methods' to positively identify his remains, according to a senior Pentagon official who personally saw a photograph of the corpse.... two Obama administration officials said DNA evidence confirmed the death. The officials claimed the DNA evidence provides a match with 99.9 percent confidence."
Other methods were also employed to positively identify bin Laden, including facial recognition software.
The decision to bury the body at sea served several purposes. First, it demonstrated to the Muslim world that Islamic traditions were respected, even for the world's most wanted terrorist. According to Islamic tradition, deceased Muslims are to be only handled by Muslims and buried as soon as possible in a simple white sheet, which was reportedly done.
Second, the lack of a specific burial site thwarts efforts of those who would make bin Laden a martyr by robbing them of a place to build a shrine.
Grist for Conspiracy Theories
After bin Laden was positively identified, there was no real reason to keep his body, and plenty of good reasons to get rid of it. Still, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are well steeped in conspiracy theory, and bin Laden's death will just be more grist for the mill.
When Adolf Hitler died in April 1945, his body was burned according to his wishes, and the remains later buried (and re-buried) in several locations. Though there was clear evidence from multiple sources that Hitler died, conspiracy theories surfaced claiming that Hitler survived WWII.
Several years ago I spoke with a woman who claimed to be psychic, and I asked her why, with thousands of psychics and psychic detectives in America (and tens of thousands around the world), none had been able to locate bin Laden or tell the military where he was. How did she explain the obvious failure of psychic powers to locate this mass murderer after nearly a decade? Surely at least one psychic could have provided accurate, valid information to help bring justice to families and keep him from killing again.
She insisted that psychics employed by the military had probably located bin Laden years earlier, but that his death was being kept a secret for political reasons. I replied that it seemed very unlikely that the White House would have any reason to hide the fact that bin Laden was dead, but it gave interesting insight into conspiracy theories.
Even if bin Laden's body had been preserved and displayed for some reason, it would not have satisfied the conspiracy theorists, who could have simply claimed that the Pentagon hired a film special effects team to create a very realistic plastic or wax dummy of bin Laden - and that the real bin Laden was still alive, or died in 2001 of kidney failure, or is a restauranteur in the Bronx.
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