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04 May 2011 20:12
United States President Barack Obama has decided not to release a photograph showing the body of Osama bin Laden after he was killed by US commandos, US television networks said on Wednesday.
The White House later confirmed that the photograph would not be released, as President Obama did not want it to be used as a “propaganda tool”.
“The president has made the decision not to release any of the photographs of the deceased Osama bin Laden,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.
In an interview with CBS, Obama stressed it was important to keep photographic evidence from “floating around as incitement or propaganda tool,” Carney said.
“That is not who we are. We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies,” Obama added.
The CBS interview for its 60 Minutes program is due to air on Sunday and comes after US Navy Seals over the weekend stormed Bin Laden’s hideout in a Pakistani compound and shot him dead.
United States officials who have seen the pictures of Bin Laden’s body have described them as “gruesome”.
There are fears that if the photos are released they could provoke anger and trigger a backlash against US personnel in the Muslim world.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were both advising Obama about concerns at the Pentagon and State Department over releasing the photograph, ABC television said.
On Capitol Hill, a number of senators and congressmen said they had been shown the picture.
House Intelligence Committee Chairperson Mike Rogers said he had seen the photo and was reluctant for it to be released, saying he was concerned for the security of American troops abroad.
“The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” Rogers said, saying conspiracy theorists would just claim it was doctored anyway.
“Imagine how the American people would react if al-Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the Internet.
“Osama bin Laden is dead,” the lawmaker said.
“Let’s now focus on continuing the fight until al-Qaeda has been eliminated.”—AFP
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