Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Osama bin Laden: High Priest of Terror

Initial Reports Inaccurate

The initial reports from the White House turned out to be inaccurate. The original narrative was that a woman who had been used as a human shield during the battle had been shot and killed. The day after, the White House clarified that that woman was identified as being bin Laden's wife and that she was injured in the leg when she rushed the assault team.

And it was unclear whether or not bin Laden himself (or any of the men who were killed) had been armed and resisting, or if bin Laden had been reaching for a weapon.

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan initially told the press: "The concern was that bin Laden would oppose any type of capture operation. Indeed, he did. It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight, and that's when the remains were removed."

He added: "He was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don't know."

There were mixed messages about whether or not there would be a photo released of bin Laden. Though similar post-death photos had been released of Saddam Hussein and his sons, as well as other Al Qaeda terrorists (and even though photos were sold to Reuters of the other three men who were killed in the raid), Obama decided not to release Osama bin Laden's photos because he didn't want them to become a point of contention with U.S. enemies.

"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence — as a propaganda tool," he told 60 Minutes. "The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again."

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