On May 2, 2011, the United States military killed and buried Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 attacks. U.S. Special Operations troops took him out during a raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where he and some of his family were hiding out.
After identifying his body, the military brought him aboard the USS Carl Vinson and buried him in the northern Arabian Sea the same day.
The U.S. took political, religious and practical factors into consideration when deciding how to bury bin Laden’s body. There was concern that if he was buried on land, his grave could become a shrine for his followers.
There was a need to observe Islamic funeral practices, including the custom of burying a body within 24 hours of a person’s death. And there was the question of whether the U.S. should take photos or provide some sort of visual proof that he was dead.
When U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, who was 54, the U.S. government’s explanations for why it didn’t bury him in the ground were a little inconsistent.
News articles quoted American officials both on and off the record who said that the U.S. didn’t want him to have a physical grave because it might become a shrine, but also because an unnamed country had declined to accept his body. Articles speculated that the country was Saudi Arabia, where bin Laden was born.
“I’m not sure where this rumor comes from, but I would not give it much credence,” says Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University and former Pakistani high commissioner to the U.K. and Ireland.
“The Saudis are inclined toward a form of Islam called Wahhabism,” he says, which rejects shrines of prominent people. The fact that Saudi Arabia wouldn’t want his grave to become a shrine in their country, combined with the fact that bin Laden was extremely critical of Saudi Arabia, makes Ahmed think that if U.S. officials asked the country to receive bin Laden’s body, “they asked out of ignorance.”
According to a U.S. official, in 2004 a prisoner named Hassan Ghul revealed that bin Laden relied on a trusted courier known as al-Kuwaiti. Ghul said al-Kuwaiti was close to bin Laden as well as Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Mohammed’s successor Abu Faraj al-Libbi. Ghul revealed that al-Kuwaiti had not been seen in some time, which led U.S. officials to suspect he was traveling with bin Laden.
When confronted with Ghul’s account, Mohammed maintained his original story. Abu Faraj al-Libbi was captured in 2005 and transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006.
He told CIA interrogators that bin Laden’s courier was a man named Maulawi Abd al-Khaliq Jan and denied knowing al-Kuwaiti. Because both Mohammed and al-Libbi had minimized al-Kuwaiti’s importance, officials speculated that he was part of bin Laden’s inner circle.
Osama bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia. His father was Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire from Hadhramaut, Yemen, and the founder of the construction company, Saudi Binladin Group.His mother, Alia Ghanem, was from a secular middle-class family in Latakia, Syria.
He studied at university in the country until 1979, when he joined the Mujahideen forces in Pakistan fighting against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He helped to fund the Mujahideen by funneling arms, money, and fighters from the Arab world into Afghanistan, and gained popularity among many Arabs.
In 1988, he formed al-Qaeda. He was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1992, lost his Saudi citizenship in 1994,and shifted his base to Sudan until US pressure forced him to leave in 1996. After establishing a new base in Afghanistan, he declared a war against the United States, launching a series of bombings and other violent related attacks.
His involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings landed him on the American Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) lists of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists.
Source: Wikipedia, History.com