It is a year since the US government pulled off one of the most audacious stunts of the 21st century, when on May 2nd 2011 they claimed to have killed Osama bin Laden during a Navy SEAL operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The contemptuously sloppy story spun by the US government, parroted without question by the controlled corporate media, and obligingly swallowed by a largely gullible Western public, was dubious in the extreme.
Many credible commentators, including respected intelligence analysts and heads of state, had claimed years before 2011 that bin Laden was dead. It is widely believed that bin Laden suffered from kidney disease; former President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf stated in January 2002 that he thought the Al Qaeda leader had died of the disease, and after reviewing video footage of a poorly-looking bin Laden from late 2001, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta observed that his "frosting of the appearance is something that people a lot of times associate with chronic kidney failure, renal failure, certainly someone who is requiring dialysis would have that."
Even if bin Laden was still alive in May 2011, events following his supposed killing proved, for the rationally critical, very difficult to swallow. Were we really expected to accept without question bin Laden's corpse being hastily buried in the North Arabian sea, within 24 hours of his killing? US authorities made the absurd claim that in doing so they were following Islamic tradition, which dictates that a body should be buried within 24 hours of death. Whilst this is true, Islamic tradition definitely does not require burial at sea, other than in exceptional circumstances such as when a person dies during a sea voyage - when all effort must still be made to perform a burial in the ground. Sceptics also rightly point to historic examples of the US failing to respect Islamic tradition - when, for example, Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were killed, and their bodies kept for 11 days before being released for burial. It is difficult not to react with incredulity to the manner in which bin Laden's corpse was supposedly disposed; the ultimate proof of his death, prime evidence which would clearly be demanded by many, simply dumped in the sea.
The public were of course prevented from seeing other evidence of bin Laden's death. Video footage of the raid and photographs of bin Laden's corpse, the government declared, were simply too gruesome to publish. The CIA, who claim to have 52 seperate photos and videos of the raid and burial, has fought hard to keep their purported evidence secret. A Freedom Of Information Request for the photos prompted John Bennett, director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA, to claim that releasing the images would pose a grave risk to national security. Last week a federal judge agreed. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said the CIA's "explanation of the threat to our national security that the release of these records could cause passes muster", and that "verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more."
We were initially led to believe that Obama and other members of his administration personally watched bin Laden's killing. White House "situation room" photos featured an apparently shocked Hillary Clinton seemingly watching events live - even though it was subsequently admitted by CIA director Leon Panetta that there had been no live feed during the raid. Several other significant revisions were made to the original account of the raid, in the days following May 2nd. It was initially claimed, though subsequently retracted, that bin Laden's henchmen had engaged Navy SEALs in a fierce gunfight, and that Osama himself had been armed. The propagandistic claim that bin Laden cowered behind his wife when cornered by US special forces also turned out to be false. Some asked why, if he did not pose a physical threat to the SEALs, bin Laden had not been taken alive? It would surely have made sense to capture the world's most wanted man, the supposed leader of a global terror network and an invaluable source of intelligence, alive.
The accounts of locals in Abbottabad also contradicted the official narrative. Whilst US authorities admitted they lost a helicopter during the raid, they said no US military personnel had been injured or killed. Eyewitness Mohammed Bashir, however, lived opposite the compound and claimed to have seen many dead bodies in the crashed helicopter. And whilst officials say none of the SEAL Team 6 members involved in the compound raid were amongst the unit's 22 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in August 2011, some have speculated that the incident was part of a coverup connected to the raid in May. There are other intriguing local testimonies. A BBC journalist who spoke to 50 Abbottabad residents could only find one who believed bin Laden had been living at the compound. One local was adamant that the elderly figure purported to be bin Laden, who appears in a video apparently recovered from the compound, is actually his neighbour - a man he knows "very well" and whose name is "Akbar Khan". It is also odd that the fugitive bin Laden would choose to hide in, of all places, Abbottabad - being as it is a military town home to the Kakul military academy.
The coverup appears to have continued this year, when in February "bin Laden's compound" was totally demolished. On February 27th we reported that "Pakistani authorities began tearing down the house on Saturday night, working under floodlights, with the local population subject to a strict curfew and Pakistan Army soldiers and police personnel reportedly deployed in large numbers", and how the "total destruction of the death scene makes it much less likely independent verification of the official narrative will ever be established".
As the mainstream seems determined to ignore, downplay, or ridicule attempts to verify the official narrative, it is clearly down to us - the alternative, independent media - to try and do so.