Clerics in Saudi Arabia, a staunch U.S. ally and the country of Osama bin Laden’s birth, dismissed Washington’s assertions it observed Islamic rites in disposing of the al Qaeda leader’s body in the Arabian Sea. Bin Laden, shot dead by U.S. forces in a raid on a compound in Pakistan on Monday, was placed in a weighted bag and dropped into the north Arabian Sea from the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, the U.S. military said.
But many Muslims in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf Arab region, including opponents to bin Laden’s militant ideology, said the fact funeral rites were read for him did not diminish their shock at the way his body was disposed of.
“That is not the Islamic way. The Islamic way is to bury the person in land like all other people,” said Saudi Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, an adviser to the Saudi Royal Court.
Washington said bin Laden’s body was treated with respect. He was reported to have been washed and covered in a white shroud in burial preparations that lasted nearly an hour, and religious remarks were recited before his body went underwater.