Details Of Osama Bin Laden's Secret Burial At Sea Revealed In Military Emails

Burial at Sea

Photo: NASA via Flickr

Details surrounding one of the more controversial details of Osama bin Laden’s 2011 takedown are starting to emerge thanks to an Information Request by the Associated Press.Following the Abbottabad raid on May 1 of last year, bin Laden’s body was whisked away to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in a helicopter crammed with Navy SEALs.

In his book about the raid, Matt Bissonnette says the helicopter that delivered bin Laden to the Vinson was so packed with troops and gear that he sat on bin Laden’s corpse for the entire ride.

That detail and the fact that bin Laden was given a proper Islamic burial were about the only information about the event open to the public. The APs details fill in a few gaps and offer insight into how clandestine the mission actually was.

From The Telegraph:

“Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed,” the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. “The deceased’s body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag.

“A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the sea.”

The letters also revealed that no Navy sailors witnessed the burial and there are no pictures or video of the event.

From the AP:

Although the Obama administration has pledged to be the most transparent in American history, it is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid. In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the defence Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the Vinson.

The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed.

Aside from having great portions blacked out, the emails the AP did receive show Naval officers used code words to avoid mentioning specifics, and in an exchange with two admirals included, “FEDEX delivered the package. Both trucks are safely enroute home base.”

The judicial block on bin Laden’s death photos remains in place and it’s uncertain how much additional information will become available about the raid.

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