Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In Muslim world, many doubters say bin Laden still lives

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(NewsCore) - Across the Muslim world, the killing of Usama bin Laden has unleashed a swirl of conspiracy theories, with many Pakistanis, Afghans and Arabs refusing to believe US assurances that al Qaeda's founder is actually dead, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The US, which deployed a Navy SEAL team to kill bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on Sunday, has not yet released any photographs of the Saudi fugitive's corpse. The body itself, US officials said, has been buried at sea after bin Laden's identity was confirmed through a DNA test.

Afghanistan's Taliban movement, which hosted bin Laden and al Qaeda until the US invasion of 2001, Tuesday night challenged President Barack Obama's account. "The Americans have not shown any credible evidence of Sheikh Usama's death, and his death has not been confirmed or denied by the sources close to Usama bin Laden," the Taliban said in their first official reaction to the killing. 
Related: Pakistan criticizes U.S. raid on bin Laden
In Abbottabad, many locals are arguing that Sunday's raid was a fake designed to embarrass Pakistan and bolster Obama's re-election chances. "They're just making it up. Nobody has seen the body," scoffed Owais Khan, a local lawyer. He argued that bin Laden would never have chosen Abbottabad, a wealthy, army-dominated town just 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Pakistan's capital, for a hideout.
Haji Liaquat, who runs a print shop about two miles from bin Laden's Abbottabad compound, agreed. "It's not the reality that Usama was present over there," he insisted. "This is just a drama to show how Pakistan is protecting Usama."
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, had to confront skeptical questions about the veracity of bin Laden's death during his news conference Tuesday in Islamabad. "I can't answer every conspiracy theory. You can have as many conspiracy theories as you wish," Grossman said in reply, noting that the Pakistani government also confirmed bin Laden's killing. "He's dead. It's good."
Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East, of course, are fertile grounds for conspiracy theories, especially ones that feature the US or Israel as villains. It is still common to hear in Cairo, Kandahar or Karachi that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were carried out by the Bush administration to attain world domination; an alternative version blames the Israeli Mossad.
The reluctance of many in the region to believe Obama's account of bin Laden's death must be seen in this context of pervasive anti-American sentiment, explained Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Center in Doha, Qatar.
"It's not so much about bin Laden as it is about the US," Hamid said. "The US has provided its narrative to the world -- and the natural reaction of many people is to cast doubt on whatever the US says."

Read more: http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/national/050311-doubters-say-bin-laden-lives-ncx#ixzz1LL58734J

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