Bin Laden ‘eased’ into sea in contentious burial

May 3, 2011

(Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, from which Osama bin Laden was buried at sea somewhere in the north Arabian Sea/U.S. Navy)

He may have been America’s enemy number one, but after U.S. forces killed him, Osama bin Laden was afforded Islamic religious rites by the U.S. military as part of his surprise at-sea burial on Monday.

The U.S. military said preparations for the al-Qaida leader’s burial lasted nearly an hour. His body was washed before being covered in a white sheet and religious remarks translated into Arabic by a native speaker were read over bin Laden’s corpse.

“The burial of bin Laden’s remains was done in strict conformance with Islamist precepts and practices,” said John Brennan, U.S. President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser.

Washington said bin Laden was buried at sea after U.S. forces killed him at a compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad because it was the best option, given tight time constraints.

Under Islamic tradition Muslims need to be buried within 24 hours. Transferring the body to another country for interment could have taken too long, officials said.

A prominent imam in Egypt, Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb, said the U.S. violated Islamic custom by not burying bin Laden on land, a move seen as a U.S. attempt to prevent his resting place from becoming a shrine for extremist followers.

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