A “gruesome photograph” of Osama Bin Laden after he was killed will eventually be made public, the CIA chief suggested.

There are said to be two sets of photos taken of al Qaeda leader Bin Laden after he was shot dead by US Navy Seals who swooped on his hideaway in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Some administration officials believe that the pictures will need to be released to dispel sceptics and conspiracy theorists at home and abroad.

However the White House is concerned the release of one photograph in particular, of Osama Bin Laden just after he was killed, would be seen as distasteful.

There are also concerns that the photographs will be exploited by al Qaeda and other extremist groups.

“It’s fair to say that it’s a gruesome photograph,” White House spokesman Jay Carney, in reference to one of the images.

“I’ll be candid. There are sensitivities here in terms of the appropriateness of releasing photographs of Osama bin Laden.”

“What we don’t want to do is to release anything that might be either misunderstood or that would cause other problems,” White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said on National Public Radio.

One set of photographs was said to have been taken after Osama Bin Laden’s  body was transferred to a hanger in Afghanistan and the second on the USS Vinson before he was buried at sea.

Officials said that bin Laden’s body was washed and he was accorded full Islamic rites before being slipped into the Arabian Sea.

There could also be images taken from the live feed viewed by US President Barack Obama and his national security team as the raid took place.

In an interview with Brian Williams on NBC’s Nightly News, CIA director Leon Panetta said: “The government obviously has been talking about how best to do this, but I don’t think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.

“We got bin Laden and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him.”

The Afghan Taliban has questioned whether the al Qaeda leader is really dead, saying “the Americans did not provide any acceptable evidence to back up their claim”.

While US anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan asked how the US could get such fast DNA results, why the burial was hasty and why no video had been released.

“If you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid,” Sheehan wrote on her Facebook page.

Sophisticated photo recognition techniques were reportedly used to identify the man shot in the head at the compound as bin Laden, before a later DNA tests confirmed the death of the al Qaeda leader.