US officials say they’re 100 percent certain that the man killed during the raid in Pakistan was in fact Osama Bin Laden. They say they used DNA samples and face recognition techniques to make that determination.
But the US announcement that Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea has sparked some skepticism about that around the globe. And so far, no photos of the corpse have been released.
While much of the west is uniform in its belief that, as President Obama has said, “justice has been served,” Pakistanis are more ambivalent. Bin Laden was once an American ally working to build the mujahedeen against the Soviets during the Cold War.
Seher Naqvi, a young woman sitting near a newspaper stall Monday afternoon in Pakistan’s bustling port city of Karachi, woke to find out that the most hunted militant in the world had been killed during the night.
“When we woke up today, we heard the news that Osama has been killed,” Naqvi said. “It was really a shocking news.”
And news that she’s skeptical about.
“Actually I think it’s a fake news and I don’t think it’s real that Osama has been killed,” Naqvi said. “I can’t believe it until I see his picture like he’s dead.”
Naqvi is not alone. Many Pakistanis today were reluctant to believe that Bin Laden had been killed. That isn’t because they support him. It’s because, as one street vendor wryly said, “we’ve heard that before.”
“He’s died before,” the vendor said. “Now he’s died again but it isn’t really confirmed whether it’s him or someone else; that’s why I’m skeptical.”
The last time the world heard that Bin Laden had been killed was in December 2001. Then, he was hiding in Tora Bora, a mountain range in Afghanistan. Despite heavy US bombing, he escaped.
Many believed he’d shifted to the forbidding mountainous territory of Pakistan’s northern tribal areas. But on Sunday night, Bin Laden was ultimately found – and killed – not in the tribal areas, but near a Pakistani military academy in a garrison town called Abbottabad.
Pakistanis didn’t seem especially concerned whether or not their government had any knowledge of the raid.
That’s because many feel they are simply caught in the middle of what was has been the negative consequences of American intervention in the region.
“Well we are used to it (the war in Pakistan),” a Karachi banker said. “This isn’t a change for us. We are hopeless and we’re helpless and there’s nothing we can do.”
And he, like many Pakistanis, assumes that the game will go on.
“What I feel is something that it’s not very important to us whether he’s alive or dead. Al-Qaeda is there,” the banker continued. “Al-Qaeda is a strong organization and they will carry out their activities whether Ayman al-Zawahiri is there or not. I don’t think it’s a blow on the al-Qaeda network.”
Osama Bin Laden’s fortified compound was located on the outskirts of Abbottabad in north-west Pakistan. The compound is a few hundred yards from the Pakistan Military Academy, an elite military training center, which is being described as Pakistan’s equivalent to the US Army’s West Point Academy.