The confusion over the details of Osama bin Laden's death has prompted wild speculation and a slew of conspiracy theories. Many Pakistanis believe the al-Qaida leader was not actually living in Abbottabad, while some jihadists are claiming the Americans buried Osama at sea because they had defiled his body.When even one of Obama's favorite bootlickers wants to see the photo, a guy whose staff writes jokes for Obama, it's time to man up and break out the photo.
The citizens of Abbottabad have a lot of questions these days. Was Osama bin Laden truly ambushed and killed in their midst? Was it really the world's public enemy number one, hunted down with great effort and expense, who had been living in their city? And if so, had he been living there for "five to six years" as the White House is now claiming?
"Impossible," says Zubair Gul, who lives a few hundred meters from the house where a US Navy Seals team killed bin Laden. Gul finds it hard to believe that the terrorist leader was killed here. "Abbottabad is in a valley, and you immediately hear every helicopter that flies by. Who can possibly believe that bin Laden was sitting in his house and had no idea that the helicopters were coming?"
Gul, a German citizen, runs two restaurants in Damme near Osnabrück in northern Germany. Originally from Peshawar, he moved to Abbottabad with his German wife in 1998, "because of the good climate and because things were always peaceful here," as he says. The shots that were heard on Sunday night and the ensuing explosion have destroyed this image.
Nazar Abbasi, a pharmacist in Abbottabad, says that he was pleased about the news that bin Laden was dead. But then he was surprised that no photos of the body were released as evidence, and that fake photos were circulating instead. "And when I heard that the Americans had thrown the body in the sea, I knew that all of this was just a big show."
Many in Abbottabad agree with Gul and Abbasi. It's all because US President Barack Obama is running for reelection, people there say. On top of that, they add, the US wanted to harm Pakistan's image. People in this garrison town find it impossible to believe that the Pakistani government knew nothing about the planned raid or may even have helped bin Laden. "Our army and our intelligence service can't be that stupid," says Maqbool Shah, a merchant. "No, it was clearly not bin Laden."
Or maybe it was indeed bin Laden, but the way the raid on the compound was carried out was very different to how it had been described. On Wednesday, the Al-Arabiya television network reported that a 12-year-old girl, supposedly a daughter of bin Laden, had said that her father was captured alive and then shot. The girl claimed to have been present when the building was stormed. The network's source was an unnamed Pakistani intelligence officer.
Given that the ultimate evidence of the death of the al-Qaida leader has not been provided, and that Washington has already had to correct its initial statements on the question of whether bin Laden was armed, speculation is now running rampant. And the conspiracy theorists are loving it.
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