Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

from Photographers' Blog:

Osama Bin Laden is dead – prove it

When news broke that Osama Bin Laden was dead, the Reuters Global Pictures Desk in Singapore could think of only one thing: We have to see the picture of the dead body. The world needed a genuine photo to confirm that the elusive Islamic militant leader was dead. We also knew that the first news agency to publish a picture of his dead body would lead the way on this historic story. Sending out a fake picture could be very embarrassing.

A few hours later a picture was circulating on the Internet. It appeared to be Osama Bin Laden's bloodied face in a video transmitted by a TV station in Pakistan. But was it really Bin Laden?

Some media claimed that the source of the picture was the U.S. military, but editors on the Global Pictures Desk found inconsistencies in the image that made them suspicious. There was odd pixelation and blurring on his face, which was also darker in some areas. The picture also looked familiar. After a quick search of our pictures archive, we found that the bottom of Bin Laden's face was similar to a picture of the al Qaeda leader speaking at a news conference in 1998. After overlaying the 1998 photo with the picture of the dead Bin Laden we had a perfect match. The mouth, ear and beard were identical. It was a fake and the desk did not transmit it.

However, the fake Bin Laden was used by numerous news websites and even appeared in print in Pakistan.

from Russell Boyce:

Osama Bin Laden is dead – prove it

When the news broke that Osama Bin Laden was dead, at the Reuters Global Pictures Desk in Singapore all we could think was one thing: We have to see the picture of the dead body. The world needed the tangible proof of a genuine photo before we could really absorb the idea that the world's most sought and also most elusive Islamic extremist was dead. We also knew that the news agency that was first in sending a picture of his dead body to the world would go a long way to winning this historic story. Sending out a fake picture could be very embarrassing to say the least - a tough balancing act when under such pressure.

A few hours later there it was circulating on the internet: Osama Bin Laden's bloodied face in a video transmitted by a TV station in Pakistan. Under tremendous pressure we could get the picture and fed it into our picture editing system in preparation for transmission around the globe.

  •