Confirming Bin Laden’s Death: DNA Evidence Is Real, Photos Circulating Are Fake

By
The image of his corpse circulating is a Photoshopped composite.
The image of his corpse circulating is a Photoshopped composite. Photo: via the Guardian

U.S. officials say that DNA evidence confirms with 99.9 percent accuracy that it was indeed the body of Osama bin Laden shot and killed in Abbottabad yesterday. The DNA match was made by comparing physical evidence from bin Laden's sister. According to the Telegraph, after she died of brain cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital years earlier, the FBI immediately subpoenaed her body so that it could later be used to identify him if he was caught. Her brain was preserved, and blood and tissue samples were taken and used to compile a DNA profile, reports ABC News. Detailed photo analysis as well as matching features and height (he was six foot four) also helped confirm the identity of the Al Qaeda leader. One official said, "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind, this is Osama bin Laden."

Meanwhile, in another coup for Twitter, one of its users revealed that an image of bin Laden's body used by the AP, as well as the front pages of British papers like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, were faked. Ironically, the Photoshopped image — a composite of another photo of a bloodied corpse and one of bin Laden from 1998 — was initially published in April 2009 and has been circulating on conspiracy forums as proof that he had been killed.

The Obama administration has actual photographs of bin Laden's corpse, but officials are still struggling over what to do with them, says ABC News. The White House is weighing the benefits of releasing the photos to combat skepticism around the world about bin Laden's death versus the gruesome nature of the photos. (There are blood and brains visible in the head wound above his left eye.) In 2003, for example, the U.S. government released photos of Saddam Hussein's sons only after they had been touched up. Perhaps the president is just waiting for Donald Trump to ask?

Why that photo of a dead Osama bin Laden is a photoshopped fake [Telegraph UK]
Bin Laden death confirmed by DNA, sources say [CBS News]
Osama bin Laden corpse photo is fake [Guardian UK]
White House Officials Debate Releasing Photographs of Bin Laden’s Corpse [ABC News]
Earlier: How the U.S. Killed Osama bin Laden