The reluctance of the White House to provide proof that Osama bin Laden is dead inspired increasing skepticism in many parts of the world yesterday.
While even some in Western countries said they would not believe America’s version of events until shown photographic proof, the levels of disbelief were especially marked in the Arab world.
The White House said yesterday that it had used DNA testing and face mapping to establish bin Laden’s identity, and that it was debating releasing images of his corpse, although it had concerns the graphic nature of the image could be inflammatory.
One of the first groups to react was the Afghan Taliban, which said it was not convinced.
“As the Americans did not provide any acceptable evidence to back up their claim, and as the other aides close to Osama bin Laden have not confirmed or denied the death ... the Islamic Emirate consider any assertion premature,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Islamic Internet forums contained postings doubting America and repeating conspiracy theories about the U.S., the West, 9/11, bin Laden and the Holocaust.
Saudi Arabian teens used Facebook to voice doubts: “I had a vague feeling in the morning that something is not alright,” posted Saudi teen Yasin Malaika. “When they announced that he had been buried at sea it only confirmed doubts that there is something amiss.”
“Yes, why would the Americans do that?” replied Malaika’s Facebook friend. “They are hiding something. Where is the proof that he died? Show me the picture. If he were killed which the Americans say he was then it would make immense sense for them to make the body public.”
In Lebanon Mahmoud Tabboush, a shop owner in Hamra, told the Lebanese Daily Star: “Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have only been hearing lies. They say he is dead while other reports were saying he had been dead for 15 years. I have doubts about the whole thing. They have to show the whole world his body and his DNA results [for us to believe].”