Pictures of Osama Bin Laden’s dead body will not be released said President Obama, citing fears that the death photographs would be used as propaganda by al Qaeda or as “trophies” by jubilant Americans.

Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan on Monday. His dead body was apparently buried at sea, in keeping with Muslim law.

The lack of visual evidence that bin Laden is dead has led some to question it. The US’s backtracking on its original version of events has also fed into conspiracy theories surrounding the death of al Qaeda’s head.

There have been repeated calls for the White House to release pictures of Osama bin Laden’s dead body, but Obama said last night that the photographs would not be made public, in part because of their graphic nature.

The pictures of bin Laden’s dead body are reportedly highly gruesome, featuring an empty eye-socket and brain matter visible through a bullet wound to the skull.

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“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,” Obama said on CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme.

The US president continued to defend the killing of bin Laden after questions have been raised about the legality of the operation.

“The fact of the matter is, this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received. And I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he’s gone,” Obama said.

“But we don’t need to spike the football. And I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk.”

Police stang guard outside the house where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Police stang guard outside the house where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

When asked about those who doubt that bin Laden is really dead, Obama said:

“The truth is that, and we’re monitoring worldwide reaction, there’s no doubt that bin Laden is dead. Certainly there’s no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead.

“And so we don’t think that a photograph is going to make any difference. There are going be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this Earth again.”

Obama said that he had seen the pictures of bin Laden’s body and that they had been analysed to his satisfaction.

“There’s no question that it’s Bin Laden,” Obama said.

Obama’s decision not to release the bin Laden photographs has been criticised by some lawmakers. Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that the President had made a mistake.

“I know Bin Laden is dead,” he said. “But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world. I’m afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate.”

Yesterday, CIA director Leon Panetta said that a photograph of Bin Laden’s corpse would certainly be released at some point.

“I don’t think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public,” Panetta said.

Sarah Palin, the former US vice-presidential candidate also waded in, writing on Twitter:

“Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission.”

Although the pictures of bin Laden have not been released, graphic photographs thought to show the al Qaeda chief’s son and two other men killed in Monday’s raid, have been made public.

The photographs show the three men lying in pools in blood. All are unarmed.

Computer hackers are tapping the public’s obsession with seeing pictures of bin Laden’s dead body and a series of computer scams are in circulation.

Hackers have been able to infiltrate the accounts of people who click links or images promising to show bin Laden’s corpse.

Computer users have been warned to be careful.